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…fake degree hammer hits  academic & administrative staff in colleges

Following a joint communiqué on unaccredited universities and award of fake degrees in Sierra Leone on Tuesday 26th April, 2022. All academic and administrative staff in Higher and Technical Education Institutions who acquired their certificates, diplomas and degrees in unaccredited institutions and used same for employment and or promotion in their respective institutions are to resign within the next two weeks, i.e. from 12m May to Wednesday 26th May, 2022.Below is the press release for perusal.

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Orange SL constructs Kindergerteen School…

VP Juldeh Jalloh commissions facility    

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 By Yusufu Sesay

Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, the Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone has on Friday 13th May, 2022 officiated the handing over of Orange’s newly constructed ultra-modern Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre at Petifu Junction, Petifu Section Lokomassama Chiefdom in Port Loko District.

The pre-school was constructed by the country’s biggest mobile operator to support the government free quality education vision.

Speaking at the ceremony, VP Juldeh Jalloh thanked His Excellency the President, Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio for his vision in Education with the introduction of the Free Quality Education programme in Sierra Leone.

He furthered expressed appreciation to Orange (SL) notably the former CEO Aminata Kane for the construction of the pre-school which he said the people of Lokomassama would ever remain grateful to the Ministry of Basic Education and the Company.

VP Juldeh Jalloh who purchased the land where the facility is built also committed to fence the ECD Centre and provide the first set of uniforms for the kids.

The stakeholders of Lokomasama chiefdoms who turned out in huge numbers to grace the event expressed their overwhelming appreciation to the government for the ECD center.

UBA S/Leone appoints new board chairman

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UBA Sierra Leone has appointed a new Chairman, Board of Directors, Dr. Claudius Bart-Williams. This appointment which became effective on the 9th of May 2022 is a befitting succession of the outgoing Chairman, Mr. Abdul Sheku Kargbo who served diligently on the board for six years.

The newly appointed Chairman, Dr. Bart-Williams, who holds a Ph.D. from Brunel University in the UK, is a seasoned Financial Economist that brings to the board over 30 years of experience in education, consulting, corporate advisory and finance in the UK and Africa. UBA Sierra Leone considers Claudius’ appointment as Chairman is a -significant milestone given his record as the Group Chief Executive of Pennarth Greene, the London and Africa-based licensed and regulated advisory and corporate finance firm.

“I look forward to the tremendous value which Dr.  Bart-Williams is bringing to the UBA SL board, especially with his vast technical background as multiple lead consultant roles for several international organisations and financial services institutions including the World Bank, IFC, DFID and UNCTAD as well as major international companies” said Usman Isiaka, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, UBA SL.

Dr. Bart-Williams is also an academic having served as Dean of the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) of the University of Sierra Leone as well as holding several academic posts, including Head of MBA Programmes, in the UK, India, Oman, South Africa and Poland.

“I am deeply honoured and humbled to accept this appointment.  UBA’s rise and reputation for excellence and innovation is well-known and I intend to use my knowledge and experience for the benefit of the bank in fulfilment of the bank’s vision to be a leading and dominant financial services institution in Africa.  I am also very proud to work with the existing board, management and staff, without whom this bank would not be where it is today.  said Dr. Claudius Bart-Williams, Chairman, Board of Directors, UBA Sierra Leone”.

UBA Sierra Leone is a member of UBA Group, a pan-African bank with presence in 20 African countries, the UK, France, and the USA. Our capabilities are derived from our Group’s robust financial strength, proven competence, strategic alliances and commitment, which we combine to professionally drive the benchmark for exceptional value delivery to our customers in all our presence countries.

British High Commission, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary partner to tackle climate change

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Human caused climate change is a serious threat to human health and the health of the planet. How we act now will influence how people and environment adapt to climate hazards, such as increased heatwaves, droughts, and floods that are already resulting in mass extinctions of species. Climate change is putting millions of people at danger of running out of food and water. This is especially true in nations like Sierra Leone, which are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Climate change adaptation must be bold and swift. We must acknowledge the interconnection of climate, biodiversity, and people.

This needs to be done through adopting innovative solutions that can both tackle climate change and accelerate Sierra Leone’s economic development over the medium term. These issues are often seen as a trade-off but they need not be.

Solutions include increasing access to energy that’s renewable and sustainable to avoid dependence on costly fuel imports, strengthening climate-smart agriculture to increase food security and providing quality education that raises awareness of climate and environment.

Solutions also include – like Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary is demonstrating – maintaining healthy ecosystems that are more resistant to climate change and provide life-sustaining services like food and clean water; thus restoring degraded ecosystems and providing a source of income through eco-tourism.

This can accelerate progress toward sustainable development, but adequate finance and political support are required to achieve this goal. Therefore, governments, the business sector, and civil society must collaborate in decision-making and investment, including at the global stage. By hosting the climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow, the United Kingdom convened nations globally to agree progress on tackling climate change collectively.

The Sierra Leonean delegation attended COP26 and signed up to an important and ambitious set of commitments. By signing the Forest and Land Use Declaration,

Sierra Leone pledged to end deforestation by 2030 alongside 140 other countries. Sierra Leone has also committed to strengthening climate-smart agriculture, climate education, resilient health systems, and to putting gender at the fore front of climate action. This is an ambitious set of commitments, and it is important these are implemented through a whole-of-society approach.

Implementing Climate Change Commitments

On Thursday, 12 May 2022, the British High Commission together with Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary held a reception at the High Commissioner’s Residence as part of Tacugama’s Chimpanzee Week. This brought together the Minister of Environment and Forestry, other leading government representatives, private sector and civil society to honour progress and set out the ambitious pathway to implement these commitments.

Lisa Chesney MBE, British High Commissioner, stressed that we must all work together for a greener, cleaner future, and that it is essential to find a path for a long- term sustainable economic growth.

“Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges of today and is one that needs collective action from all of society. The UK is a key ally in this cause, and we will support Sierra Leone to implement the ambitious COP26 commitments by bringing together the whole of British expertise – UK aid funding, civil society and the private sector – in Sierra Leone.”

Bala Amarasekaran, Founder of Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, emphasised his team’s efforts towards awareness, sensitisation and advocacy for climate change, of which the launching of the current National Animal Campaign is an integral part. He highlighted the following important actions

  • “Natural forest regeneration and assistance to it by planting trees that are appropriate for Sierra Leone’s ecosystems;
  • Preventing further loss of the existing canopy by strengthening coordinated patrols and continuous bio monitoring of our various ecosystems, both terrestrial and maritime;
  • Expanding Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary environmental education program, which aims to address the root causes of land degradation and deforestation with the goal of finding a sustainable and permanent solution; and
  • Strengthening the efforts to offer alternative livelihood support to communities with the aim of permanently changing behaviours that are detrimental to our environment and our assumed commitments.”

The scientific evidence leaves no space for doubt: climate change is a real threat to human life and the well-being of our country in particular, and the planet in general. If we want to secure a liveable future for us and for the next generations, the time to act is now.

LEGAL LINK secures Freedom for “Blacka”

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Christian Lawyers Centre hereinafter referred to as LEGAL LINK is pleased to announce that it has today, Friday 13th of May 2022 secured a discharge verdict for Blacka at the Magistrate Court No 4, holden at Pa Demba Road Freetown, presided over by Magistrate Rashid Jalloh.

It could be recalled that Mohamed Mansaray ( alias Blacka) together with one business woman Kadiatu Yankaday were both charged with one count of Public insult and provocation contrary to section 2 of the Public Order Act of 1965.

Arraigned before Magistrate Rashid Jalloh of Magistrate court No 4 Holden at Pa Demba Road Freetown, the police alleged in their Particulars of Offence, that on diverse dates between January 1 and April 23, 2022, in the presence of Mohamed Fofanah, the accused persons made insulting remarks against the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr Julius Maada Bio with intent to provoke him to commit a breach of the peace.

Both accused pleaded not guilty to the offence. Lead Defence lawyer at the time, C. Pujeh Esq made an application for bail for Blacka on the grounds of him being a mental health patient. But notwithstanding this however, the Magistrate refused the application for bail for both accused persons and sent them on remand at the Pa Demba Road prison.

Following the outcry on social media over this malicious prosecution of a mental health patient by the state, the case was called up the following day with bail granted to Blacka ( mental health patient) and the other accused person charged alongside with him.

As an organization that  defends the rights of vulnerable groups in Sierra Leone, LEGAL LINK took interest in this case and decided to join the Defense lawyers with Rashid Dumbuya Esq, Executive Director of LEGAL LINK, taking over the matter as the lead defense lawyer for Blacka.

In making his application  for a discharge before the Magistrate Court in two of the court sittings,  Lawyer Rashid Dumbuya opined that this case has no merits as the prosecution has not been able to lead any witness after taking about four adjournments in the matter.

He further averred that Blacka, being a mental health patient, had no business to have been charged by the police in the first place but rather kept in a mental home.

He ended by letting the court know that the very fact that the prosecution has not been able to lead any witness after four adjournments is a testament that they are only here to persecute Blacka and not prosecute him. According to Rashid Dumbuya, Blacka’s constitutional rights to fair trial as guaranteed under section 23 of the 1991 constitution and other international frameworks to which Sierra Leone is a party must be respected and upheld by the courts. In the given circumstance, lawyer Rashid Dumbuya appealed that the Magistrate discharged Blacka of the offence for which he stands charged for want of prosecution.

Magistrate Rashid Jalloh upheld the application of lawyer Rashid Dumbuya and discharged Blacka as well as Kadiatu Yankaday accordingly.

In making his ruling, the Magistrate asserts that  “no case can be determined against a man when no evidence has been proffered against him.” He added that a discharge verdict is not a bar to further prosecution and that the police can always come back when they are well prepared to conduct their case.

Various lawyers apart from lawyer Rashid Dumbuya were also in court this morning to represent Blacka. Chief amongst many of them were:, L.Dumbuya Esq, I.S.Y Kamara Esq ,F.R. Conteh Esq, A. Mansaray Esq, A. R Thuray Esq, and  S.Bangura Esq

Special thanks to all of the above lawyers and especially C. Pujeh Esq for being the first Defense lawyer to have represented Blacka in this matter.

Outside of the court building, lawyer Rashid Dumbuya did a short interview with the media in which he made a clarion call to the public to stop using Blacka as a political stooge and puppet, thereby putting him in arms way with state authorities and their die- hearted political supporters.

He also made an urgent call on the police through the Inspector General to provide compensation to Blacka for the malicious, frivolous and vexatious proceedings instituted against him for which his fundamental human rights were violated in the process. At a time when the issue of mental health rights has taken the centre stage within the United Nations and other regional integration frameworks, it is suicidal to say the least for such stories of torture and victimisation to be happening against mentally – illed patients in the country, Rashid opined.

But looking beyond the BLACKA incident, a legitimate question that comes to mind is: are their adequate, effective and robust laws, policies and institutions in Sierra Leone to protect the rights and welfare of mentally – illed patients like BLACKA? The answer is certainly a big NO.

While a colonial Lunacy Act does exists, it is quite clear that such statute does not adequately address the needs of mental health patients in the country.

The few institutions also established to take care of mental health patients are largely under- supported and constrained in terms of expertise to deal with the special needs of these patients.

Ironically however, Sierra Leone has signed up to many international and regional frameworks that guarantee mental health rights. Such treaties and conventions include the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the United Nations Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental illness and the improvement of Mental illness and Mental Healthcare and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights to name but a few.

Therefore, to not  adequately guarantee the rights of mental health patients at the domestic level would amount to a violation of international law.In the locus classicus case of PUROHIT VS THE GAMBIA, a matter that was decided by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights concerning the

inhumane treatment of mental health patients in the Gambia, the African Commission ruled that “the Gambian government has violated the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights by her refusal and failure to have effective laws, policies and institutions in place to protect the rights and welfare of mentally – illed patients in the country.”

The significance of the above case at the African Continent has revealed that states in Africa including Sierra Leone are under a duty to ensure that the rights and welfare of mentally retarded persons are adequately addressed either through legislations and or care institutions and not neglected at will.

Unfortunately in Sierra Leone, apart from the acute absence of  legislations that comprehensively protect the rights of mentally- illed patients in the country, there are still a large number of mental health victims roaming about the streets of Freetown aimlessly, unattended to and uncared for.

Mental health legislation, policies and institutions are necessary for protecting the rights of people with mental disorders who are amongst the most vulnerable section of society.

While we wholeheartedly condemn any attempt by anyone to show disrespect in whatever form to the office of the president, it should however be noted that in this exceptional situation, Blacka was  merely a victim that was being exploited by wicked and unreasonable people for selfish gains.

It is our candid view that if the police were to take any drastic action, such should have been done against these people for aiding and abetting the commissioning of the crime.

It is certainly not Blacka that video himself when such uncomely words are being said by him. People do the video recording as well as the sharing which clearly constitutes an Offence under the Cyber Crime and Security Act of  Sierra Leone. The police must therefore ensure to go after them and treat Blacka as a mere victim and a mental health patient that needs help.

In conclusion, given all the injustices that have been meted out against Blacka, a mental health patient in this entire criminal case, as a legal advocacy group that defends the rights of vulnerable persons in Sierra Leone, we call on the Sierra Leone Police, through the Inspector General of Police to provide adequate compensation to Blacka over the malicious and vexatious proceedings instituted against him.

We strongly aver that where compensation is not paid, LEGAL LINK would explore the option of approaching the Supreme Court and/or the ECOWAS Court for appropriate redress.

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