As Family Mourns Drowning of Bread Winner…Vimetco Shifts Blame to Nectar SL Bulk Terminal

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The late Mohamed Koroma was an employee of the Stevedores Company, under hire by Sierra Minerals Holdings Limited operating at Rutile in the Bombali District.

According to our investigation the late Mr. Koroma was recruited by Nectar Sierra Leone Bulk Terminal (NSBT) in 2019-2020 to render service as a Cook for Vimetco Bauxite mining workers.

Vimetco is the largest bauxite mining company operating in the Moyamba District, southern part of Sierra Leone.

Sources revealed that the late Mr. Koroma was sitting on the barge close to the Ocean-Going Vessel (OGV) when the mooring swung and tossed him into the sea on Monday 7th June, 2021.

Information gathered from the community members revealed that the barge named Corenelia and the Ocean-Going Vessel (OGV) belong to the Vimeto Bauxite Mining Company.

Our sources further revealed that the late man was drowned at sea for 3 days without any active moves to search/rescue or remove the corpse from the sea.

Our investigation further revealed that due diligence was not taken at the time he fell overboard and drowned until three days after the corpse appeared, floating on the sea.

Reliable sources disclosed that there was no sea ambulance neither an emergency rescue team activated and that there was no proper supervision at the moment the incident occurred.

Speaking with Alieu Mansaray the Operations Manager of OTP Shipping Group, he asserted that their company does not have any hands in relation to the drowning of the late man, adding that their key function is to provide services for Vimetco Bauxite.

He noted that since the incident occurred there was no report given to them by the ship’s captain and they only received an internal document from Vimetco to hand over to NSBT.

He pointed out that this medium should also contact NSBT and Stevedores Company for more information about the circumstances leading to the death of the late man.

Public Review tried several times to reach Vimetco Bauxite for their side to no avail. However, a formal letter asking questions about the incident was fruitful.

In response to our letter, they stated clearly that the Gondama Push Boat and Barge Cornelia came alongside the ocean-going vessel (OGV) MV Concaran where the late man “fell overboard sank, and from the moment of landing on the deck.”

The Vimetco response added that the late man “fell into the sea close to where he was sitting and submerged without any trace.”

The letter also stated that the deceased was sitting on an open deck (bollard of Cornelia) with no personal floating device at the time when the rest of the crew were on board the vessel.

It further noted that the mooring line that was just at his back, got tension from the swells moving the barge away from the vessel and that the mooring rope swung from the bollard and tossed the late man into the sea.

The letter also mentioned that Sierra Minerals Holdings Limited (SMHL) sells its bauxite on a FAS basis and not on a FOB basis rendering the Stevedores activities outside the scope of SMHL operation.

It added that the Stevedores Company and the late man were hired by NSBT and they (Vimetco) believe that any issue regarding their maintenance or welfare rests solely with the NSBT. The Vimetco management in its letter however stated that efforts were made to rescue the late man but were unsuccessful.

In other words, Vimetco is clearly denying/ responsibility for the late man and shifting blame/responsibility to Nectar Sierra Leone Bulk Terminal Sierra Minerals, to our investigations.

Meanwhile, family sources say the late man was a father of 3 children and came from an extended family in which he was the breed winner. The family said news of his death came as a shock because the late man was in Freetown on Sunday 6th June and departed in the evening hours for Rutile. They are however urging the company that is responsible for the death of the late man to pay all his benefits.

As He Applauds Internal Scoring System…

Mallam O. Set To Bow Out of Njala University

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Njala University’s outgoing Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Alimamy Osman Sankoh, has commended the University’s internal scoring mechanism for Academic Appointment and Promotions.

Mallam O. made this complimentary remark while chairing a Special Appointment and Promotions Committee on Thursday 24th June 2021 at the University Secretariat, Njala Campus leading to the appointment of three new Associate Professors in the persons of Professor Adolphus Johnson, Patrick Sawyerr, and Rashid Ansumana from the schools of Agriculture and Food Sciences and Community Health.

He expressed his deepest satisfaction that the external assessors had certified and given a clean slate to the work of the internal scoring committee returning brilliant and commendable remarks on the contributions of the new Associate Professors in the fields of academic research and publications, mentorship, and community service.

Professor Sankoh commended the scoring committee especially its’ Chairman, Professor Koroma, and his Special Assistant, Mr. Alpha Jalloh for consistently putting pressure on the external assessors to deliver their reports on time.

The Njala University Internal Scoring Committee which was chaired by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Njala Campus and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Njala University, Professor Bashiru Mohamed Koroma had completed the process in record time of three months culminating in the further recommendation of the applicants to credible and prominent external assessors in their respective fields of study.

The reports of the external assessors read by the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal were quite satisfactory and given a clean bill of health to the three applicants who according to them met all the requirements for promotion to the next level.

The Special Appointment and Promotions Committee meeting endorsed the report of the external assessors making the three applicants appointable.

Dr. Patrick Sawyerr one of the newly appointed Associate Professor is the current Head of the Soil Science Department, School of Agriculture and Food Science, and joined Njala University in 1987 as Lecturer one. He rose to Senior Lecturer and Head of Department in the last six years and has served Njala University for the past thirty years.

Dr. Sawyerr is the current Principal Lead researcher of the National Comprehensive Soil Survey supported by BAFFS/EU and supervised by the National Authorizing Office (NAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture.

He expressed his joy over his appointment and recounted that it is an opportunity to mentor the younger ones in academia.

Professor Adolphus Johnson is Head of the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology School of Agriculture and Food Sciences. He entered Njala University in 2012 as Lecturer One and later rose to Senior Lecturer and Head of Department.

He has brought a number of research grants to the University and also facilitated a number of collaborations between Njala University and other academic institutions.

He was appointed as Director of Academic Planning and Quality Assurance quite recently by the outing going Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal. The Administration is highly hopeful that he would use his extensive academic experience to consistently develop systems to support quality assurance across the programs of the University.

Dr. Rashid Ansumana who also appointed as Associate Professor is the current Dean of the School of Community Health Sciences. He joined Njala University in 2007 as Lecturer II and rose to the rank of Senior Lecturer in 2016.

He has sixteen publications to his credit mainly in reputable journals and has contributed hugely to the training of medical and health practitioners in Sierra Leone.

Dr. Ansumana is very pivotal in the current efforts at building systems to ensure that his School is transformed into the second medical school in the country. He is also very instrumental in wooing research grants to Njala University in the past years and his influence with the Ministry of Health and other reputable and international medical and research-based institutions had brought a lot of recognition for Njala University.

Over Compulsory COVID-1 Vaccine:

LEGAL LINK Lashes NaCOVERC & SL Commercial Bank

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Christian Lawyers Centre also known as LEGAL LINK has taken judicial notice of the public notices issued by NACOVERC and the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations and the public outcry and reactions over this blatant violation of their right to freedom of movement and their right to make informed decisions regarding issues of their health.

In a press release, LEGAL LINK stated that “As an organization that defends the rights of religious communities and vulnerable groups in Sierra Leone, we make bold to say that the public notices issued by NACOVERC and the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank are not only wrong and misplaced but poses clear and present danger to the enjoyment of fundamental human rights within the state.”

The release added: “While we acknowledge the good work that NACOVERC has done and is still doing regarding the fight against the Coronavirus, we at LEGAL LINK however take the greatest exception to NACOVERC’s forceful way of administering the Covid 19 vaccine and call upon both NACOVERC and the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank to withdraw their public notices forthwith and further do an open apology to the public regarding same.”

In the press statement, LEGAL LINK raised 10 robust, cogent and convincing arguments as to why Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination is a wrong path to take by NaCOVERC in dealing with Coronavirus.

Listed below are LEGAL LINK’s arguments:

1) Sierra Leone is no longer under a state of Public Health Emergency where fundamental human rights maybe limited at will and without deference for due process.

2) No precedent exists especially in the US or UK, (two progressive democratic nations that have been worst hit by the Coronavirus) supporting mandatory vaccinations or restriction of people’s movement’s into public  and business places unless they show proof of being vaccinated. If these countries that have been worst hit by the Coronavirus still have the proclivity to respect the fundamental human rights of their citizens, how much more Sierra Leone that have not even witnessed up to 300 deaths since the  Coronavirus outbreak?

3) The World Health Organization and the US Centre for Disease Control have never supported mandatory vaccinations. Their Covid -19 health guidelines have always referenced the need to secure the patient’s reasonable consent or that of his guardian if such consent cannot be practically obtained from the patient before vaccination is administered.

4) The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to which Sierra Leone is a party puts responsibilities on Businesses to respect human rights. The move therefore by Sierra Leone Commercial Bank to limit the movement of its staff and customers into the bank unless they show evidence that they had taken at least one dose of the vaccine amounts to a clear breach of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. That decision by the bank may not only harm businesses but further pose a clear and present danger to the socio- economic and security wellbeing of the state.

5) Mandatory Vaccination by the state will create the likelihood for violations of the right to health of citizens. The state has an obligation under international human rights law to respect the rights of its citizens. This simply means that the state must refrain from interfering and / or curtailing the enjoyment of the rights of its citizens within the state. Getting the consent of citizens, before administering the COVID- 19 vaccine shows respect for their fundamental human rights. On the contrary, issuing bogus threats to limit movements of people into public buildings and banks if they refuse to take the vaccine shows outright disrespect for their right to make informed decisions regarding their health.

6) Invoking the exception under section 18 of the 1991 Constitution regarding the right to freedom of movement as a defense may be untenable outside of a State of Public Health Emergency and/ or Parliamentary approval. While it is true that the Freedom of movement guaranteed under section 18 can be limited on grounds of public health, it is vital to hastily pinpoint that there’s an exception to the exception under section 18 of the 1991 which reads thus: except in so far as that provision or as the case may be the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.

This means that for one to rely on the exceptions under section 18 as a defense, the thing done ought to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.

In our candid opinion as well as those from the majority of the public supported by international best practices, forcing COVID -19 vaccines on people against their wish or consent is an act that is unreasonable and unjustifiable in a democratic society. Hence, the exception under section 18 cannot be relied upon in this given circumstance by NACOVERC as a defense.

7) The Public Health Ordinance of 1960 only allows for restrictions of movement of persons into an “infected area”…The operative word in the Ordinance is “Infected area”. If public buildings and banks are not scientifically proven to be infected areas, then it will amount to a blatant violation of the fundamental human rights of citizens where such buildings and business places are restricted from people unless they show proof of being vaccinated.

8) The administration of health vaccines must always go with individual consent so that persons who take the vaccine may own up to the consequences should there be any side effects in the future on their health.

9) It is undisputable that the current COVID-19 vaccines are all on trials and have not been confirmed of being100 percent bullet proof against the virus….so why the fuss then? Or why try to force it on people if it is clear that it is not a bullet proof against the coronavirus?

10) It is anathematic and uncharacteristic of Democratic nations to roll out mandatory vaccination policies and programs without due process, approval and consent of its citizens. It is authoritarian systems of government that forces vaccines on their citizens within deference to their informed consent. *Free, prior and informed consent is one of the cherished hallmarks of a democratic society and since Sierra Leone is a democratic nation and not an autocratic one, the government must therefore respect its citizens’ rights to make informed decisions particularly on issues related to their health.

In summary and based on the above points raised, the press release issued by LEGAL LINK “calls on NaCOVERC and Sierra Leone Commercial Bank to recall their public notices restricting access to public buildings and business places without proof of COVID-19 vaccination forthwith; and take steps to openly apologize to the public over this grave error of judgment and miscalculation.”

The release further noted: “If the above is not adhered to, LEGAL LINK will be left with no option but to institute legal actions both within and outside of the jurisdiction of Sierra Leone for violation of the fundamental human rights of citizens.”

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