ACC to Indict Ex- APC Youth Minister

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The Anti – Corruption Commission (ACC) is said to be fixing indictment papers together to drag into its net former Minister of Youths Affairs, and Ambassador to the Peoples’ Republic of Iran in the last All Peoples Congress (APC) government  Hon. Alimamy A. Kamara, a credible source within the Bio led government told Public Review last night.

Alimamy, who last served as Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Iran in the Koroma APC led government  will at least face nine counts charges on various offences including his alleged ’’ failure to declare assets, income and his liabilities ‘’ during his time as minister in the Youth Ministry.  The source noted.

The source said that Mr Kamara; while serving as Minister in the years 2013 to 2016 respectively didn’t make any declaration of all his assets , income; and liabilities to the ACC through the period under review.

Another source at ACC confirmed to Public review that the Ex-APC Youth League president and minister committed similar offences during his tenure as Member of Parliament dating 2007-2013.

A couple of other issues; as in handling of youth projects funds;  while serving as Minister are being looked into by the Commission; ACC source further told Public Review.

His alleged offence (s) is said to have violated section 122(a)of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2009.

S/Leone to Receive $2 Million Worth of Humanitarian Aid from Russia

Following the outcome of the Russia-Africa Summit in October 2019, the Government of the Russian Federation decided to increase Russia’s donation to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for humanitarian aid to African countries starting in 2020.

Understanding the vulnerable economic situation of Sierra Leone worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian Government decided on Directive No. 2382-r dated September 18 2020, to provide $2 million humanitarian aid to the Republic of Sierra Leone through the WFP.

A vessel carrying 445,74 tons of sunflower oil from Russia is expected to arrive at the port of Freetown on July 17 2021. This food assistance will be distributed to the most vulnerable regions affected by food insecurity in Sierra Leone.

H.E. Vadim Razumovskiy, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Guinea accredited to Sierra Leone and Mr Hussein Basma, Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Sierra Leone, will officially hand over the consignment to WFP and the Government of Sierra Leone on behalf of Russian Federation.

The ceremony will take place at the Ministry of Social Welfare on July 16 2021 at 10 am. Delegations of the Russian Embassy and the WFP will be received by the Honourable Minister, Madam Baindu Dassama Kamara, on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone.

Ambassador Mohamed Yongawo is also working closely with the Government of Russia to support Sierra Leone in the fight against COVID 19 after the Russian-made Sputnik vaccine has proven effective in the fight against the Coronavirus.

As a way of further strengthening bilateral relations with Russia, Sierra Leone, through its Foreign Minister Professor David John Francis, and his Russian counterparts, Sergey Lavrov, signed a memorandum of understanding of Visa-free movements for holders of Diplomatic and Service Passports in Moscow, Russian Federation in May this year.

Sierra Leone is among the first African countries that established Diplomatic Relations with the Soviet Union in 1962, and since then, both countries have enjoyed friendly bilateral relations. The two countries will be celebrating the 60th Diplomatic anniversary in Moscow and Freetown respectively.

 

Corruption: ACC Questions FCC Mayor

FCC Mayor Comes Under Pressure to Go for Covid-19 Testing - The Calabash  Newspaper Sierra Leone

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has called on the Freetown City Council Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sowyrr for alleged corruption findings in the 2019 Audit Report.

 ‘’Today, 14th July 2021, I have been invited by the Anti-Corruption Commission to answer questions related to findings in the 2019 Audit Report’’.

‘’Whist I have not been informed about what specific issues will be discussed, I am aware that it is part of on-going routine investigations into the Audit Report findings. Other core members of FCC staff, including the chief administrator and the finance officer, have already gone through similar questioning’’. She said.

She ended ‘’I remain committed to cooperating with the Anti-Corruption Commission to ensure that all outstanding audit issues are cleared’’.

 Revolt of the Underclass…

By Julius Spencer

I recently read an article by Prof. Ibrahim Abdullah titled “Marginal Youths or Outlaws? Youth Street Gangs, Globalisation and Violence in Contemporary Sierra Leone” and it has confirmed my worst fears.

A few months ago, the phrase “revolt of the underclass” jumped into my mind and I haven’t been able to forget it since then. I’m not sure, but I believe it was triggered by a conversation I had with my daughter who is now living in Lagos, Nigeria. We were discussing the rising violence in Nigeria and she told me about a personal experience she had driving home in broad daylight one day. A young man was shot a few feet from her car, in the middle of the road. Apparently, he was trying to escape from a group of young men chasing him. He fell to the ground after being shot, struggled to his feet and managed to get to the side of the road. However he couldn’t escape, and using machetes, the group chasing him chopped him to death. According to my daughter, this was a gang killing, something that is becoming rampant in Lagos and a number of other Nigerian cities. Add to this, the activities of Boko Haram in the North of the country and the spate of kidnappings for ransom and abduction of large numbers of school children on a regular basis, and you get a sense of widespread insecurity in Nigeria.

A few years ago, Sierra Leone witnessed what I call the China Nicky phenomenon. A young lady, poorly educated and generally uncultured, captured the attention of the nation and thousands of people mobilised support for her, resulting in her winning the first edition of Big Sister. For most people, what they saw was simply a young lady that made people laugh, and the crowds that came out in support of her were simply people who were impressed with her performance on the show.  I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with growing youth violence in Nigeria.

Well, for me, while for many of those who supported China Nicky, they did it because she was entertaining, there was another large group of young people who saw her as one of them and their support was a means of belittling those who believe they are better than them. In other words, to me, it was a way of them getting back at those seemingly cultured and educated women who generally had a snobbish attitude to those they considered below them. To me, therefore, the China Nicky phenomenon was more than just entertainment. It was in a way an uprising by those who would be considered the underclass in society, determined to show they were not worthless, and could even do better than the well-to-do, if given the chance. In other words, it was a show of resentment.

Sierra Leone, like many other African countries, has a huge youth bulge and unfortunately a large proportion of them are either unemployed, under-employed or unemployable. This has resulted in these youths, particularly in urban areas, finding alternative means of survival which invariable lead to drug abuse and crime.

I lived in Nigeria for about 7 years and I was a living witness to the birth and infancy of what has now metamorphosed into gang violence and widespread criminal activity. When I left Sierra Leone in 1981 to pursue postgraduate studies in Nigeria, things had just started to go bad in Sierra Leone, with the economy contracting and the problems of poor electricity, poor water supply, bad roads, etc starting to rear their heads. When I got to Nigeria, I saw and experienced many things I hadn’t seen or experienced in Sierra Leone, including armed robbery. However, by the time I returned to Sierra Leone for good in 1987, these things that I had first seen or experienced in Nigeria were beginning to happen here.

When I got to Nigeria, cultism was in its early stages and was largely limited to university campuses and “area boys” ruled the streets in the large urban centres. By the time I left Nigeria, cultism had expanded to the wider society and the “area boys” were becoming more of gangs.

Fast forward to today and Nigeria is in the grip of widespread gangsterism and “area boys” have been totally transformed into youth gangs, with reprisal killings taking place on a daily basis. While I was in Nigeria, I made the trip between Ibadan and Lagos, almost countless times via the expressway, either in public transportation or driving myself. Recently I was planning to go to Nigeria and would have needed to travel from Lagos to Ibadan, and my daughter advised me that I would have to travel by air because of the insecurity and the possibility of being kidnapped.

Based on my own personal observation, Sierra Leone has in many ways been stepping in the footsteps of Nigeria in many negative ways. In the 1970s while I was in university in Sierra Leone, we had purely social clubs, fraternities and sororities. Initiation into these clubs fraternities and sororities, was very simple. In fact most social clubs had no initiation ceremonies. Today, both the club and fraternity that I was a member of at Njala University College in those days have been transformed, and their initiation ceremonies bear the hallmarks of cultic practices. During my days as a student, physical violence during student elections was totally unheard of. Today, it is the order of the day in virtually all student union elections. The “blackman” versus “whiteman” phenomenon that came into being long after my time in university, is now not even limited to university campuses. It has filtered down to secondary schools and is present in wider society.

As Prof. Abdullah outlines in his article referred to earlier, the “raray boys” of the 70s and 80s no longer exist and, like the “area boys” in Nigeria, have metamorphosed into cliques and gangs. Below is a quote from the article.

“This research reveals that gangsters make their living hawking drugs in public spaces they control/ ‘govern’. This development mirrors the situation in South Central Los Angeles and Chicago. What is palpably missing here is an expanding, profitable and captive market for drugs. The limited market has limited the potential for deadly turf wars and reduced competition for control of markets as is the case in other countries. If and when it gets to that stage, violence, or which groups can muster the muscle power to exclude others from selling in the territory they claim to ‘govern’, will be the deciding factor. If enough is at stake, it is likely that firearms will be procured to defend illegal markets, with clandestine godfather figures lurking in the background.

 Gangsters in Sierra Leone are not as local as most people would like to imagine; they could also be deadly global in their thinking and experience. The country’s gangsters are already beginning to advertise by placing photographs of themselves on websites. As gangs become more institutionalised and determined to defend their turf and livelihoods, they could potentially become a part of trans-national, even continent-wide networks.”

Chew on that till I bring you part 2 of this article in a couple of days.

Whispers about Dr. Bala Usman

-By Okello Oculi

Dr. Bala Usman and I first met at Essex University, located one-hour by train, from London. He had come to see a peace-research activist who was on the faculty. When we greeted, I quickly asked if he was from the southern Sudan or Rwanda for he was as tall, straight, and self-assured as the cattle-rearing Dinka, Shilluk of Sudan or the Tutsi of Rwanda. He almost took offence, but quickly enjoyed his Pan-African status, through the geography of physiologies. I gave him a copy of my first literary work, ORPHAN, which had just arrived and been splashed, rather lavishly, across the wide glass walls of the university library and also simultaneously reviewed, with tender gloves by Jean Franco, the professor of Latin American literature in the campus newspaper. The year was 1967.

My next contact with him was through his name being circulated among scholars of African studies in North America. I had told Professor Crawford Young that I might accept a teaching job at Ahmadu Bello University in northern Nigeria. He was greatly alarmed. One of his protégés, Professor Paul Beckett, had been physically assaulted in 1975 following the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed. Deeply angered admirers of Murtala had apparently assumed that a dance party held by expatriates later that same day was in celebration of a plot by British and American intelligence agencies to terminate a regime which was popularly regarded by Nigerians as revolutionary and Pan-Africanist. Murtala had rebuked President Gerald Ford for writing letters to African leaders commanding them not to give diplomatic recognition to the socialist MPLA government in Angola, as well as refused to receive Professor Henry Kissinger, Ford’s secretary of state. Kissinger was apparently so infuriated by this humiliation that he smashed plates on his aircraft. There was concern that the phobia against “expatriates” might also bash me on the head on arrival in Zaria.

I arrived in Zaria and met Dr. Okwudiba Nnoli who was on campus for a meeting of Nigeria’s socialists. He introduced me to Dr. Bala Usman who instantly recalled our meeting in Essex. When he was severely injured in a motor accident on the Zaria-Kaduna road, I took him a copy of Dr. Augustinho Neto’s collection of poetry. I had learnt about the vigorous role he had played in shaping General Murtala Mohammed’s foreign policy and decision to support the MPLA government in Angola. Augustinho Neto, a medical doctor turned leader of a revolutionary armed struggle, was the founder and leader of MPLA which he led to victory and independence against a fascist colonial Portuguese military dictatorship in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. Dr. Bala travelled to Mozambique, as a correspondent of the New Nigerian newspaper, to report on the anti-colonial armed struggle in that country.

Dr. Bala Usman told me the following story. As a student in Lancaster University, he often went to London to attend parties by Nigerian, African, and Caribbean students all buzzing around together. On one such trip, he saw a book on a raft at the railway station. The author was FRANTZ FANON. The title intrigued him -BLACK SKIN, WHITE MASK. He sat on a plank and started reading it. He finished reading the book at 7 a.m, twelve hours later, without leaving his seat. The railway officials and the police were obviously so fascinated by the sight of this young African getting so engrossed in what he was reading that trains passed and arrived without him moving an earlobe. They refrained from interrupting a genius in ecstasy.

He had never read anything like it. He was convinced that the book was placed on that rack at that railway station specifically for him to see it. Its words took him back to Barewa College where he had been taught by British teachers; and to relationships he had witnessed between British colonial officials and traditional rulers in northern Nigeria, including his own father. As he read the book, a deep fury began to swell and swirl in his mind and soul. His British teachers and colonial officials had related to him and his father’s class WITH A BIG LIE. They had pretended that they respected him and his social class, while they deeply despised them and treated them as tools of exploitation. The notion that they were regarded “always AS FRIENDS”, as Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa had said so eloquently in a speech at a public function, now came to him as a grand-lie. He was furious. He turned his fury into an intellectual war for building the true power of northern Nigeria, Nigeria and Africa – freed from the grand-lie which had the British plot to exploit them and keep them perpetually weak.

This point is important to emphasise. Bala Usman, the African student in England, did not climb on the shoulders of Karl Marx, Engels or Lenin to see the mountain top of a liberated authentic African nationalism. He came through the clinical writings of FRANTZ FANON, a medical doctor of African ancestry, via the Caribbean. He did not need European thinkers to turn him against European colonial and post-colonial (neo-colonial) capitalism in Africa. And this went very well with his ancestral pride as a Sokoto Caliphate aristocrat turned radical nationalist. In the 1980s, his younger Marxist critics at Ahmadu Bello University would accuse him of not being a “true Marxist”, a theological uniform Dr. Bala Usman saw as another form of slave mentality crawling for parental adoption by European foster parents.

The primacy he would give (as the Head, Department of History), to research by scholars from northern Nigeria on the histories of their own peoples- (Okwede on the history of the Igala; Ohiare on the history of the Igbira; Mahadi and Sule Bello on Kano; Tukur on Colonial rule in northern Nigeria; Mangvwat on the Jos-Plateau; Mohammed on the Royal Niger Company/UAC in northern Nigeria; Oyedele on the urban history of Kaduna town etc) – all came from this passion for true self-knowledge as the road to intellectual and political freedom. From Franz Fanon, he had experienced first-hand the liberating power of Pan-African intellectual production. He was convinced that northern Nigeria, Nigeria and Africa needed its own army of academic mind workers to tell their true story if they had to defend freedom and achieve genuine roads to independence. He knows that universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, and Stanford were all intellectual military weapons for empires.

He was well-endowed with the tools for this mind work. Aggressive with stacco of words, which rolled out with the power of machine gun rattle, he had the intellectual brilliance to carry that energy. He read voraciously and was as utterly impatient with intellectual laziness as with official behaviour and slave mentality which injured Africa’s development and freedom.

On a personal note, I named our son after him probably as revenge for his famously gentle way of urging me to marry the young lady he saw me with; and later losing his patience with my antics by taking off his cap and fixing it on my head on my wedding day under his loudly proclaimed law that ‘You don’t wear Kaftan without a cap; it is just not done!”

I couldn’t be sure then whether it was the Dinka, Shilluk or Tutsi cattle-rearers in him that had reached out to hug me. I do hope that he will judge my efforts kindly in supporting the intellectual war he pursued at Ahmadu Bello University with so much devotion, integrity, abrasively radical commitment to African human dignity, freedom and development.

May his soul refuse to let us rest in the fight and labour for freedom all across Africa.

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