Alhaji Kanja Sesay Assesses CLSG Preparedness

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By B.W.Bockarie

The Minister of Energy, Alhaji Mansa Kanja Sesay,  on Thursday 8th July 2021 visited the Alpha T & D store where the last consignment of the Rural Electrification Component of the CLSG project in the north were handed over.

According to the General Energy Manager in the Ministry of Energy Dr. K. Dan Kona, the last consignment comprised 100 high voltage tension poles and cables, 100 high voltage transformers among others.

CLSG Updates

The General Project Manager, in a brief background to the CLSG Project, said that the Trans West African Power Pool Project runs from Ivory Coast through Liberia, Sierra Leone and on to Guinea. The transmission to the Mano River substation, from where Sierra Leone would receive supply from Liberia, is yet to be completed. According to him, out of the five substations to be constructed in Sierra Leone, three substations (Tiloma in Kenema District, Bikongor in Kono District, Bumbuna, where construction stops for now, in Tonkolili District) have been completed, adding that by November this year, the remaining two substations in Fadugu and Kamakwie will be constructed. He further informed the Minister and the media that 60% of the civil works on the CLSG is completed. The Minister was pleased with the progress made so far, noting that His Excellency the President Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio sees access to uninterrupted electricity supply nationwide as a fundamental human right. He furthered that the Rural Electrification Project, as a component of the CLSG, will benefit 29 villages nationwide while the bigger towns will directly benefit from the CLSG. He thanked the staff and all stakeholders in the district for their efforts towards making President Bio’s dream a reality.

Energy Minister Promises the North For Interrupted Electricity

As he continue making positive news headlines, the productive Minister of Energy Hon. Alhaji Kanja Sesay, his Deputy Dr. Taylor and some Senior officials of the Ministry last week embarked on a hectic Energy Reformation tour in Northeastern Sierra Leone.

The visit was particularly geared towards assessing components of electricity materials in readiness to be used to connect identified towns in the Northeast that would be benefiting from the CLSG project.

In Makeni City, the Energy Minister, Resident Minister Northeast, Pressmen, the Paramount Chief, the Mayor and Senior district stakeholders visited the Makeni Central Store to assess piles of electricity materials.

The Minister and team took off next to Bumbuna Hydroelectric Dam on saturday on a conducted tour to inspect the dam.The Hon.Minister highlighted some human activities that pose potential threats to the Dam and spoke of relocating some towns or villages to mitigate the growing threats.

Meanwhile, 8 accused persons are standing trial  in Court No.1, Pademba Road for theft of EDSA Cables and Energy Abstraction

ACC EMPOWERS SSN-COVID 19 BENEFICIARIES 

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has sensitized and empowered beneficiaries of the Social Safety Net (SSN) COVID 19 program in Baja Town, Moyamba District and Gardorhun Village, in Sahn Malen Chiefdom, Pujehun District respectively, on the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) component of the SSN program which is superintended by the Commission.

Addressing beneficiaries of the scheme and community stakeholders at the meetings held at the community centres in Baja and Gardorhun, Director of Public Education and Outreach, ACC Patrick Sandi admonished them to make the appropriate use of the funds as they are meant to alleviate their state of vulnerability and poverty. Mr. Sandi dilated on the many gains the ACC has recorded in its support to the SSN program through the GRM. He told listeners that the Commission appreciates their contribution to the fight and encouraged them to sustain the collaboration. Director Sandi outlined the many interventions the Commission has made in ensuring that beneficiaries are fairly and transparently treated. The ACC has recovered over Thirty (30) Billion Leones from the corrupt, secured over 95% conviction rate and made unprecedented upward mobility in local and international corruption perception indexes in three years, Mr. Sandi updated his audience.

In her submission, Christiana Jusu, Public Education Officer ACC, underscored that the expectations of the ACC were clear and not difficult to attain. She implored the beneficiaries to use the monies in a proper and judicious way, mindful that such outcomes will please the donors, the ACC and the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA). Madam Jusu further informed her listeners that the meetings will clarify all the misunderstandings they had in regard the implementation of the program.

Speaking on the role of the Commission in the SSN program, Sinatu Bangura, National Youth Service Corps, performing the role of Public Education Officer, stated that, the ACC’s involvement in the program has added tremendous value to the project with huge display of integrity and transparency, and increased donors and beneficiaries’ confidence. She also said that, the ACC has the role to increase public awareness on the SSN/GRM program, the benefits and impact on beneficiaries and mechanisms available to resolving issues or challenges in the program. Madam Bangura catalogued the many outreach activities the Commission has undertaken, the cases investigated and charged to court and the administrative matters resolved relating to the implementation of the SSN program.

In their presentations at the two engagements, on the overview of the SSN/GRM program, District Monitors of Moyamba and Pujehun Districts, Jonathan Bassie and Thomas Sahr Tamba respectively, said the SSN program otherwise known as ‘hep fet po’ is aimed at ameliorating the current sufferings of the people occasioned by the COVID 19 pandemic. They said, the Government of Sierra Leone and the World Bank are providing the funds, NaCSA is implementing, Rokel Commercial Bank is giving the cash, and the ACC ensuring that the entire process is free of acts of corruption and bribery.

Earlier, in the meetings, the Town Chiefs of Baja and Gardorhun, Joseph Bunduka and Brima K. Fabah respectively, expressed their appreciation to the Government of Sierra Leone and the World Bank for the direct cash support to their people, noting that there are still communities in their chiefdoms that are yet to benefit from the support. They assured the Commission of their unwavering support to the fight and pledged to work closely with the beneficiaries for a better and more responsible utilization of the monies received.

The SSN which is a $35 Million Government of Sierra Leone social relief program, sponsored by the World Bank, provides direct cash support to the poorest and most vulnerable people in communities across the country. It is jointly implemented by the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Statistics Sierra Leone, and Rokel Commercial Bank, and targets thirty five thousand (35,000) households nationwide, where beneficiaries will each receive the sum of One Million, Three Hundred and Nine Thousand Leones (Le 1,309,000.00) for each quarter.

Similar SSN/GRM outreach events will be replicated in Mattru Jong, Bonthe District on Wednesday 14th July, 2021, and in Gondama Town, Tikonko Chiefdom, Bo District, on Thursday, 15th July, 2021.

PARLIAMENT RATIFIES ECONOMIC AND INFRASTRUCTURAL TREATY

The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Tuesday 13th July 2021 debated and approved with unanimity a treaty on the establishment of the Dakar-Abidjan Corridor among the Governments of the Republic of Cote D’Ivoire, the Republic of the Gambia, the Republic of Guinea, the Republic of Guinea Bissau, the Republic of Liberia, the Republic of Sierra Leone and the Republic of Senegal for the economic development and advancement of Sierra Leone and the other countries in the West Africa subregion.

The following treaty was ratified by Parliament:

Treaty on the establishment of the Dakar-Abidjan Corridor among the Governments of the Republic of Cote D’Ivoire, the Republic of the Gambia, the Republic of Guinea, the Republic of Guinea Bissau, the Republic of Liberia, the Republic of Sierra Leone and the Republic of Senegal.

Presenting the Treaty for ratification, the Minister of Works and Public Assets, Peter Bayaku Konteh recalled the origin of the Treaty and said that it would include the construction of a 6-Lane Highway aimed at connecting these countries in the subregion. He also said that it would reduce barriers to trade, and it would provide for railway infrastructural development and air transportation among countries constituting the corridor. He said that the project would be implemented by the ECOWAS Commission and that Sierra Leone and Liberia were yet to ratify the Treaty. Speaking on the cost of delay in ratification, he said once the project is ratified and implemented, it would immensely benefit women, children, traders and agricultural activities in the subregion.

Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh spoke about the importance of the corridor relative to trading and other economic benefits. He also noted that Sierra Leone has done a lot with regards to infrastructural development. Speaking on sea and land in light of transportation, he said the implementation of the project would provide a huge relief to the country from being indebted to improve on its road infrastructure.

Hon. Hindolo M. Gevao underscored job opportunities from the project, particularly for women and youth, and added that such a connectivity is necessary for regional development. Speaking on the safety of trade along the corridor and revenue mobilization, he recalled how the international market at Koindu was generating additional revenue for Government.

Hon.  Abubakarr Fonanah  from Kenema spoke on security and the necessity of the Treaty and called on colleague MPs to speedily approve it to improve on trade and transportation in the subregion.

Leader of C4C, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina said the Treaty is not controversial and recalled how some similar documents have been approved by Parliament. Speaking on the significance of the ECO, the proposed single currency and its role in promoting trade in the subregion, he agreed with Hon. Gevao’s point that, it would help greatly in the area of revenue generation for Government.

Hon. Hassan Sesay also underscored the importance of regional trade and likened it to the  necessity of the West Africa Power Pool’s  connectivity through energy. Speaking on the need of land transportation, he said such a corridor would foster regional trade and it would also enhance and promote economic cooperation and integration.

The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Chernor R.M. Bah said that the project is highly considered by ECOWAS for the promotion of trade and regional integration. He noted that ECOWAS is yet to have the funds for implementation, but it would use the visibility document to source funding in light of ratification.

The Acting Leader of Government Business, Hon. Bashiru Silikie said the treaty is essential and that ECOWAS would use this ratification to raise the necessary funding for implementation. He also spoke on the benefit Sierra Leoneans living around the corridor would derive from the implementation of the project and called for the speedy ratification of the Treaty.

In another development, the Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Tuesday 13/07/2021 extensively debated and committed the Bill entitled: “The Breast Milk Substitutes Act, 2020”, to the Legislative Committee for further scrutiny and consultations.

The Bill is being piloted by the Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Augustine Sandi.

The Bill is aimed at providing for safe and adequate nutrition for infants and young children by promoting breastfeeding and regulating the market of breast-milk substitutes and for other related matters.

Members of Parliament who contributed to the debate deemed it as non-controversial and considered it as a good initiative by Government necessary for sanitizing safe breastfeeding of infants and young children in Sierra Leone

UNFPA commemorates World Population Day

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sierra Leone, in partnership with the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and Statistics Sierra Leone, celebrated this year’s World Population Day on Monday 12 July on the theme: ‘My body is my own: Claiming the right to autonomy and self-determination.’

This year’s celebration, which took place at the Atlantic Hotel in Freetown, focused on popularizing and raising awareness of the State of the World Population-SoWP Report; the International Conference on Population Development-ICCPD commitments & Demographic Dividend; the National Population Policy (NPP), and the 2019 Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey (2019 SLDHS). These are critical to providing data for the status of women’s health and rights.

UNFPA’s global statement on the subject underlined that many justifications and theories had been put forward to justify depriving women and girls of their rights and choices and for making their bodies subject to the whims of others. It also stressed that “If these excuses are allowed to continue, none of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals will be achieved by 2030. And that means the potential for human, social and economic progress envisioned by the international community in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would go unrealized to everyone detriment”.

Jocelyn Fenard underscored that making Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights a reality would require the establishment of a new partnership amongst the Government, the United Nations, development partners, Civil Society and the private sector to promote the rights of all women and adolescent girls. This is the main purpose of our presence here today.

The UN Resident Coordinator, Babatunde A. Ahonsi in his statement, said every woman had the right to make their own choices about their sexual and reproductive health. “What leads to healthy and productive societies is when women can make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health, and when they have access to services to support their choices. A woman who has control over her body gains not only in terms of autonomy but also through advances in health and education, income and safety. She is more likely to thrive, and so is her family. However, whilst the theme of this year’s World Population day commemoration is “My body is my own”, the question still lingers on how many women and girls can freely make that claim.”

The Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Jonathan Titus-Williams, said government had been working in addressing the gender challenges, mostly those related to reproductive health and rights, and improving population planning and management. He called on partners working on population and development issues to support and work towards addressing challenges facing the reproductive health and right of our young and women, and to strengthen the national capacity for improving the awareness of population issues with sound policies

Launching the SWoP Report the Minister of Gender and Children Affairs, Hon. Manty Tarawallie, said the theme was aligned with the National Population Policy; the 2019 Demography and Health Survey; the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Africa Union Agenda 2063. Government, she said, remained committed to fulfilling the overall goal of ending gender based violence and harmful practices, ending unmet need for family planning services, and ending preventable maternal deaths by 2030.

At the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population Development in Nairobi, Sierra Leone  committed to reduce the unmet need for Family Planning from 24.8% in 2019 by 20% in 2025, reduce the maternal mortality of 1,165 per 100,000 live births by 50% in 2028, enact the Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill which will criminalize child marriage for all types of marriages by the end of 2020, and to provide an inclusive platform for a broad range of stakeholders to come together around the universally applicable principle of rights and choices for all.

According to the 2021 SoWP Report, half of the women living in 57 developing countries are denied the right to choose their sex partners and to decide when to bear children by making use of contraceptives. They also lack the power to make a decision about their body, without the fear of violence.

Moderating this year’s event was Ms. Spencer-Coker, a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of Sierra Leone and an inspirational advocate for the empowerment of women and girls always willing to serve in their interests.

 

8 Accused in Court for Theft of EDSA Cables

By E.Sannoh

8 accused; Osman Sesay of No. 7 Upper Easton Street in Freetown, Kadiatu Kamara of No. 15 Lima Street in Makeni Town, Hassan Kamara of No. 45 Azzolini Highway in Makeni, Abass Maligi Kargbo of No. 18 Wusum Street, John Benso Sesay of No. 4 Back of Tecko Road in Makeni, Issa Bangura of 33 City road Wellington, Alhaji Kargbo and Mohamed Samura of Kuntolo in Wellington have appeared before His Worship Magistrate Sahr Keikura for various counts contrary to the National Electricity Act No. 6 of 2011.

Kadiatu Kamara of No. 15 Lima Street in Makeni Town, Hassan Kamara of No. 45 Azzolini Highway in Makeni, Abass Maligi Kargbo of No. 18 Wusum Street and John Benso Sesay of No. 4 Back of Tecko Road in Makeni are currently before the Principal Magistrate, Court No. 1 at Pademba road to answer to four (4) counts of dishonestly abstracting electricity supply contrary to section 68 of the National Electricity Act No.6 of 2011.

According to the particulars of offence, the four accused on Monday 21st day of June, 2021 in Makeni, Bombali Judicial District in the Northern Province of the Republic of Sierra Leone dishonestly abstracted electricity supply.

Issa Bangura of 33 City road Wellington, Alhaji Kargbo and Mohamed Samura of Kuntolo in Wellington were brought before the Court to answer to three (3) counts. The Particulars of offence revealed that on Saturday, 15th May, 2021 in Wellington, Freetown Judicial District in the Western Area did conspire together with other unknown to commit a felony.

Osman Sesay of No. 7 Upper Easton Street in Freetown who made his maiden appearance on 23rd June 2021 for reportedly stealing electric cables contrary to Section 74 of the National Electricity Act No. 6 of 2011 was represented by I. Macfoy.

The eight accused pleaded not guilty. They were all denied bail. The matter was adjourned to Monday, 12th July, 2021.

The Electricity Offenders’ Court was set up by the Hon. Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards to address growing cases of persons committing electricity offences such as cutting cables and vandalization of electricity equipment among

others.

Court of Appeal Dismisses Miatta Kargbo’s COI Appeal, Orders to Pay Le.100,000,000

The Court of Appeal presided over by Hon. Justice Ansumana Ivan Sesay (JA) has today dismissed all grounds of appeal made by Madam Miatta B. Kargbo, former Minister of Health and Sanitation, against the findings and recommendations of the Judge-led Commissions of Inquiry (COI)  

The empanelled Justices-Hon. Justice Ansumana Ivan Sesay (JA), Hon. Alhaji Momoh-Jah Stevens (JA) and Hon. Adrian J. Fisher (J) ordered the Appeallant to pay the sum of one hundred million Leones (Le100,000,000) as cost for the appeal.

The said sum is to be paid forthwith while interest shall be awarded at a rate of 10% per annum until the full payment.

The Appellant’s (Madam Kargbo) appeal emanated from matters that were the subject of the Commissions of Inquiry, set up by His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, upon his assumption to office in 2018 to investigate allegations of widespread corruption and abuse of office by former government officials under former President Ernest Bai Koroma’s administration.

In his twenty-one grounds of appeal, Lawyer Melron Nicol Wilson who represented the Appellant, argued that the Sole Commissioner erred in law and wrongly misdirected himself that the Appellant was Minster of Health and Sanitation from 2013-2015.

He went on to argue that the Sole Commissioner erred in law and misdirected himself, when he held that based on the account balances and financial transactions of the Appellant at Zenith Bank, the Appellant maintained a standard of life above that which was commensurate to her official emoluments.

He stressed that the adverse findings and recommendations relating to the Appellant in respect of the Ebola investigation are against the weight of the evidence presented at the proceedings among others.

Representing the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Lawyer Robert B. Kowa, argued that because the Appellant served as Minister for 18 months between February 2013 and August 2014, which falls within the period of the investigation (2007 -2018), the Sole Commissioner didn’t work outside his mandate.

He went on to argue that there are sufficient breaches of the procurement rules as well as evidence of monies paid out without supporting documents, accounting for funds over and above her official emoluments.

Lawyer Kowa stressed that notwithstanding the tenure of office of the Appellant, there were infractions during the management of Ebola funds, which led to financial loss to government even after the Appellant had left office.

He said among other things, there was evidence that the Appellant acted wilfully in a manner which caused loss to government and that there were wilful acts of corruption under her watch while she had direct control and authority over government finances.

Delivering the judgement on the leave of the presiding judge, Hon. Justice Fisher stated that, “it is inherently clear that the findings of the Sole Commissioner against the Appellant are not just mere comments but reasoned findings, based on the evidence adduced before him.” “There can be no argument that the findings of the Sole Commissioner which are properly referenced with the evidence contained in the transcript of proceedings are adverse findings against the Appellant which will result in loss of penalty, forfeiture or loss of status,” Hon. Fisher stressed.

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