Christmas Time

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By Prince Coker

People in Sierra Leone celebrate Christmas from December 20 to the first week in January with lots of different activities, such as the NEA Awards, street reveling, festivals at the National stadium and weddings. Many people travel to visit their relatives and friends in provincial towns and cities. Others go to the cemetery to honor the dead. In Sierra Leone, there are many languages, ethnic groups, all have their own traditions, and customs, but Christmas, regardless, is the same for all! The Public Review is one among many sharing with you all, and hoping our readers and subscribers too are joining in with us to celebrate this Yuletide.

December is also the start of the busiest periods at the Siaka Stevens stadium for Trade Fairs in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is one of West Africa’s biggest hosts for trade fairs. Many foreigners and Sierra Leoneans from abroad, come in December. The locals refer to Sierra Leoneans from abroad as ‘JCs,’ meaning, ‘just coming.’ This December is momentous because a Hollywood star, a son of the soil, Idriss Elba (a JC) has come to be honored by the President and the Ministry of Tourism with an Honorary Citizen Award.

Idris Elba

Idris Akuna Elba OBE is an English actor, producer, musician, DJ, rapper, mechanic and singer. He is known for roles including Stringer Bell in the HBO series The Wire, DCI John Luther in the BBC One series Luther, and Nelson Mandela in the biopic film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. He has been nominated four times for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Mini-series or Television Film, winning one, and was nominated five times for a Primetime Emmy Award.

However, Christmas Eve night is the time when the celebrations really start with Church services, carol singing with police bands and parties. Children often put on a Nativity Play or other fun-filled drama. Many different people would sing Christmas songs in their own languages. This makes them feel that God speaks their language. Sometimes these services and parties go on all night long! At the Radisson Blu there is a trade fair that is so magnificent, although there are people who wanted to go, but due to the high ticketing prices, which are beyond what they could afford, they choose to go somewhere else. For instance, many people could go to the Lumley Beach for a stroll, go clubbing all night long or simply go for ice creams.

Other people celebrate Christmas Eve with fireworks, balloons, Christmas hats, playing magic, and partying. On Christmas Day, the Churches are very full. People come out dressed in their colorful traditional contri clothes, best to best, and shouting Happy Christmas ‘Me Nor Die Oh’ to neighbors. After the Church service on Christmas morning, people quickly go back to their houses to start giving and receiving gifts.

Traditional food includes Jollof Rice, Cassava Leaves, Fufu and Bitter soup, and drown them down with cold sodas or beers.

During the Christmas period, children’s parties, employees’ end of year parties, etc. are mostly celebrated in the hotels, at the beaches, school parks and community halls with good wishes for all people on earth. President Maada Bio will be in his village of birth – Bonthe, where he intends to spend and celebrate this Christmas.

Some Sierra Leoneans who are Christians would go to Church on 31 December to thank God for sending Jesus and to pray for a good and safe ‘New Year 2020.’ People may also use that time to remember those who died during the previous year and pray that the difficulties that they may have encountered over the year don’t carry on into the New Year.

What would the Public Review be doing? We want to wish all our readers and subscribers a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2020. And hope you will continue to partner with us throughout the year 2020.

SEASON’S GREETINGS!

Idris Elba Receives Award

By State House Media and Communications Unit

His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has issued the British Hollywood actor and musician, Idris Elba, with a Sierra Leonean Diplomatic Passport and pronounced him a Brand Ambassador for the small resource-rich West African nation. 

During a meeting at the State Lodge on Hill Station, President Bio said that Mr Elba’s visit to Sierra Leone had been long-awaited, saying that he could feel his burning desire to come back home to be welcomed by his country people. He said that the country had gone through a lot with a scarred image, which needed a conscientious effort from everyone to change that perception and create a new narrative.

“We have tried our best to change the narrative but we need more hands on deck. With you, we have a capable hand to join my government in shaping the future of this country – telling the world a new narrative about a Sierra Leone that is ready to grow and a nation that is ready to be the hub for innovation and technology in Africa and a nation that is looking forward.

“We are conferring you a citizenship of this country and to make you a Brand Ambassador of Sierra Leone. We want to tap into your network to be able to tell the world that the little nation they knew for bad things is now a new Sierra Leone. We want to let the world know that Sierra Leone is now ready for business,” he said.

Receiving the passport, Idris Elba said that he was honoured and thankful for the opportunity to become a citizen of his father’s country, noting that it was an honour for his family. He said he had always wanted to come to Sierra Leone and make a mark adding that he was thankful that his career had afforded him and family the ability to come back to Sierra Leone with determination to rebrand the country.

“This is my first visit to Sierra Leone but will not be my last. I will love to bring with me the new energy that President Bio is so focused on. I am very excited for this honour and I want to take this honour to make the President and people of Sierra Leone proud of me,’’ he said.

Elba’s father, Winston Elba, migrated from Sierra Leone to the United Kingdom in the late 1960s where he met with his Ghanaian mother, Eve Elba. He is also a producer and director continually securing his place as one of the most versatile performers in Hollywood. He is a winner of several accolades for his distinguished service in the field of entertainment. In addition to his Golden Globe win, he is the first male actor to receive dual Screen Actors Guild awards in one evening.

First Lady Congratulates Africell

The First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Fatima Maada Bio has commended Africell for supporting the cause of combating and raising awareness on the negative effects of gender and sexual related offenses including rape, teenage pregnancy, early marriage through the “Hands Off Our Girls” Campaign since awareness campaign commenced.

In her statement during a dinner hosted by the Maada & Fatima Bio Foundation to launch the “free sanitary pads for school-going girls” at the Bintumani Conference Centre, the First Lady disclosed how Africell is the first company that willingly agreed to support the campaign and even took the bold stride to organize the first-ever Hands Off Our Girls Press Conference which, according to her, is a clear manifestation of the company’s determination to take the campaign far and wide.

The First Lady applauded the Management of Africell for going beyond her expectations by providing important items needed to launch the campaign nationwide. “Africell is indeed a force to reckon with,” she showed appreciation.

A Certificate of Appreciation was awarded to the Management of Africell and she declared the company as a ‘Champion’ of the Hands Off Our Girls Campaign.

Other entities like AYV, the Sierra Leone Police Force, the Military, the Chinese Embassy, the Ministry of Social Welfare and UNFPA were also recognized for their unwavering support to the campaign.

The President, Dr. Julius Maada Bio, was also crowned as the ‘Godfather of the Hands Off Our Girls’ Campaign.

VP JULDEH JALLOH CROWNED IN KENEMA

The Vice President Hon. Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh today Thursday 19th December, 2019 acclaimed with one of the highest traditional titles as the people of Small Bo Chiefdom, Kenema district crowned him with the title ‘Paramount Chief Mohamed Nyagoba I’.

The symbolic coronation of VP Juldeh Jalloh according to Blama traditional leaders was in recognition of his contributions in supporting President Bio deliver on the New Direction campaign pledges in 2018 election.

Residents expressed satisfaction that President Bio had been successful in making tremendous strides on the Free Quality Education programme across the country as a result of the active support he enjoys from his principal assistant, VP Jalloh.

The VP who was on his way to Kailahun on a ‘meet the people tour’ was accorded a rousing welcome at Blama town, headquarter of Small Bo Chiefdom.

Making a statement, VP Juldeh Jalloh expressed delight to be crowned as a chief stressing that it was a day full of very pleasant surprise in his life as he was not expecting such honour from the residents of the chiefdom.

“As from this day Blama has got another son in the chiefdom and to demonstrate that I will ask the chiefs to provide me with a piece of land to build a house in one year. Blama will be my second home,” he averred.

He further reiterated that Blama has a special place in their family history. “After the 1967 general elections my father was forced to migrate from Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom, Port Loko district and settled in Blama before he finally proceeded to Kono district,” he concluded.

Pres.Bio Commissions TVET Institute in Kambia

By State House Media and Communications Unit

 His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has on Wednesday 18th December, 2019 officially commissioned the Government Technical Institute in Kambia Town, Northern Sierra Leone with part funding from the Islamic Development Bank. 

Chief Bai Shebora Yek II, Paramount chief of Samu Chiefdom said that they were pleased by the government to constructed such facility to enable their children to acquire technical skills without moving out to other places. He said they would stand with the government for that and were ready to support its programmes.

Professor Aiah Gbakima, Minister of Technical and Higher Education, said that because of the massive skills gap that he inherited, the government decided to construct ten technical-vocational institutes with plans for more in other parts of the country.

 He said that his ministry was grateful to the President for the support and also expressed appreciation to the Ministry of Finance for their effective collaboration on the project.

In his keynote address, President Bio said that he was pleased to commission the institute as part of his government’s promise to increase access to technical vocational education in the country, adding that the project was part of his government’s human capital development agenda.

He said that he wanted to train a highly-skilled workforce that would trigger off local entrepreneurship and job creation for youth, regardless of gender. He noted that to that end his government had sought to review the Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) curriculum and build national apprenticeships and internships into the programmes.

“Our national policy on TVETs aligns with several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – providing quality education, decent work and economic growth, and, industry, innovation and infrastructure. It is also a key enabler for a number of other goals,” he said.

He also expressed hope that they could train a skilled labour force that would serve in agriculture and agribusiness, tourism and hospitality, fisheries and marine resources, engineering and infrastructure, mining, small-scale manufacturing services and information communication technology.

Govt officials counter Auditor General’s Report

It’s now more than twenty-four hours, since the Sierra Leone Auditor General Report 2018 went public. There have been mixed reactions to the findings of the report, especially key highlight showing that One Hundred and Forty One Billion Leones of government cash (about $14 million) cannot be found.

Supporters of the current SLPP government say that the Bio-led government cannot be held responsible for all of the missing cash, after being in power for only seven and a half months out of the twelve months audited.

But the fact remains that the present government must take ownership of the 2018 Auditor General Report, and held accountable for the missing cash.

Responding to this charge levied at the government, the Anti-Corruption Commission this afternoon published a statement, saying that it has started studying the report and will soon take appropriate action to investigate what happened to the missing Billions. This is what the statement said:

“ACC COMMENCES EXAMINATION OF AUDITED REPORT ON THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS OF SIERRA LEONE

“The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to inform the general public that it has commenced examination of the Auditor General’s Report for the Financial Year ended 31st December, 2018 conducted by the Audit Service Sierra Leone and tabled before Parliament yesterday.

“The ACC notes and welcomes the ongoing public interest and debates on the said Report on the management of public and donor funds in Sierra Leone.

“As the institution charged with the responsibility of enforcing Accountability in Public Life,  the ACC is now examining the aforesaid Report with a view to ascertaining any breaches of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 or needs for intervention by the ACC at this stage; and/or identify system lapses within the audited institutions for appropriate action. The Commission is also cognizant of the role of Parliament regarding this issue and it shall be collaborating with same in the interest of prudent financial management of the country.

“The ACC attaches utmost importance to the judicious use of monies and other resources meant for the People of Sierra Leone. Therefore, it wishes to make it abundantly clear that anyone found wanting shall face the full force of the law as will be appropriate with no exceptions.

“In this regard, the public is therefore encouraged to exercise patience while the Commission does a cursory and careful review of the Report and commence taking steps within the shortest time possible as may be expedient. The ACC shall continue to update the public as and when necessary.

The public is reassured that transparency and accountability in the management of Public Funds shall continue to be of paramount interest to the ACC.” END.

But, if anyone can help the ACC and the government find out what really happened to the missing Billions, it is the government’s Financial Secretary – Sahr Jusu and the Minister of Finance – Jacob Jusu Saffa.

Writing on behalf of the Ministry of Finance today, this is what Financial Secretary – Sahr Jusu said:

“I would like to present on behalf of the Minister of Finance, Hon Jacob Jusu Saffa (Photo), and the Economic Management Team, our profound gratitude to the Auditor General and her Team for submitting the 2018 Annual Audit Report to Parliament on time, as stipulated by the Constitution and the Public Financial Management Act.

“We are most gratified that the Public Accounts of 2018 has been given an UNQUALIFIED Audit Opinion. An unqualified audit opinion on the financial statements of an institution or government provided by certified Auditors represents a professional and independent opinion that the financial statements as presented gives a True and Fair view of monies received and expenditures undertaken during the course of the year.

“In the Auditor General’s Statement, she warmly recognized and stated  “I would like to acknowledge the Government for its commitment to the continuous public financial management reforms which are aimed at further enhancing same in Sierra Leone”.

“Thus, commending the Government for its continued effort in improving the basis for which public officials are spending and accounting for use of tax payers money and raising concerns of public interest is demonstration of the Auditors fairness  and independence in assessing government financial management.

“Despite these efforts, the Auditor General, like in many other institutional audits – particularly audit of public accounts across the world, has raised serious concerns of loss of revenue of Le140.9 billion (about $14.0 million or 0.02 percent of the total 2018 Budget).

“We commend the Auditor General for bringing these and other issues to the fore and we (as fiduciary agent of the Government) will work with Parliament and key stakeholders, including the individual persons and Ministries, Departments and Agencies, to implement the Auditor General’s recommendations and address all salient issues raised.

“Overall, we commend the role of Parliament in their oversight in ensuring that public funds are used rationally with the principles of equity, transparency and accountability. This is also clearly stated in the Auditor General’s report that “In my effort to use the knowledge gained through audit engagements to improve public administration, I sought and developed strategic relationships with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and other parliamentary oversight bodies, providing them with insight and information to enable them execute their respective mandates”.

“We commit to remain a Transparent and Accountable Government in the management of State resources, ensuring fiscal discipline, probity and accountability for Human Capital Development and job creation. Have a wonderful 2019 Christmas and New Year festive season.” END

The parliament of Sierra Leone will examine the Report when it returns from Christmas break in January. In the meantime, the Anti-Corruption Commission has started ploughing through the 389 page report, to find out what happened to Fourteen Million Dollars of public funds.

Parliament Approves Finance Bill 2020

Following debates in the Parliament of Sierra Leone this week, MPs on Wednesday 18th December 2019, approved the government’s Finance Bill entitled: “The Appropriation Act 2020” with major amendments, including the removal of a Clause intended to set the president’s foreign expenses into law.

The Appropriation Act 2020, gives authority to the government to spend from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the 2020 financial year and to provide for other related matters.

In passing the Bill, Parliament granted the sum of Le8.6 Trillion to President Julius Maada Bio to run his government next year,   starting from 1st January.

According to the finance minister JJ Saffa, the government’s Budget for 2020 is aimed at addressing what he refers to as “bread and butter” issues, through job creation; micro-credit financing; raising the minimum wage to Le600, 000; providing salary increase for some public sector workers in April 2020; recruiting more teachers, health workers and police officers; start of salary payment to mayors and chairpersons of local and district councils, their deputies and core staff.

The government says that, overall, the 2020 Budget is seeking to consolidate and improve human capital development in the country.

Also in Parliament this week, MPs discovered that the Minister of Finance – Jacob Jusu Saffa, has overspent his ministerial budget by a whopping Le13 Billion (Leones) from the consolidated fund without the approval of Parliament.

This discovery was announced in parliament by the opposition APC MP – Lahai Marah.

Also, parliamentary proceedings came to a halt as the Speaker of Parliament abruptly stopped the debate, when  Dr Kandeh Yumkella MP, showed that the budget proposal of the Ministry of Finance was mysteriously increased from Le 58 billion to Le 82 billion without supporting documents.

Critics are saying that the Minister of Finance who requested unaccountable imprest for the President which has now been thrown out by MPs, now wants his own unaccounted expenditure of US$3.5 million without supporting documentation.

Watch the proceeding below as reported by Abdulai Gbla:

MPs also threw out President Bio’s directive to place a ceiling on his Non Accountable Imprest Clause:

Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella spoke to Gbla TV Online reporter – Abdulai Gbla , about the reasons why Parliament didn’t blindly follow the directive of President Bio that MPs should include a clause in the Finance Bill making provision for his Non Accountable Imprest:

Also this week, the Bill entitled: “The Public Order (Amendment) Act 2019” was introduced and read the first time in Parliament. It was presented by the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray.

The Bill is seeking to amend the Public Order Act of 1965 (Act No. 46 of 1965) by repealing Part V of the Act which deals with defamatory and seditious libel.  MPs have asked the Minister of Information and Communications to hold wider consultations with relevant stakeholders about the proposed amendments.

The Parliament of Sierra Leone is now adjourned to the 30th January 2020 for its Christmas and New Year’s break.

SLPP National Cleaning exercise teeming with corruption

The national cleaning exercise imposed by President Maada Bio when he came to power in 2018 is fraught with rampant corruption, as exposed by the Auditor General’s 2019 Report.

Though President Bio had a good intention for imposing the cleaning exercise, he could not however stop it from becoming another flashpoint of the massive corruption his government has been accused of  by the Auditor General’s Report.

READ THE REPORT BELOW BY THE AUDIT DEPARTMEN

NATIONAL CLEANING EXERCISE

In a presidential press release of 9th April 2018, the National Cleaning Day was declared and scheduled for the 1st Saturday of each month, between 7 am – 12 noon. The 1st National Cleaning

Day scheduled by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation was Saturday, 5th May, 2018.

The cleaning exercise, as proclaimed by government, is to help minimise the risk of contagious diseases prone to unhealthy environment that are major causes of different health related cases in our society; ranging from cholera, malaria, typhoid, etc.

Every month, the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Finance disburse funds to Local Councils nationwide for the National Cleaning Day exercise. In addition, the Ministry also disbursed additional funds to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to facilitate the operations of the National Coordinating Committee for the cleaning exercise. 345

Funds allocated to councils were for the purchase of chemicals, protective gears and tools, provide incentives for the youth, hire of machinery (trucks, bulldozer, front liner, excavator, fire engine, transporting bin. etc.) as well as for supervision and coordination of the activities during the exercise.

In as much as there are successful stories around the cleaning exercise since its initiation, we identified during our review of selected councils that:

(i) Cleaning tools and protective gears were inadequate.

(ii) It was not clear which youth group was entitled to incentive payment. We interviewed some youth groups on selected cleaning days, and there was no evidence of incentive payments to the youth groups on the day of the cleaning, even though the group participated regularly

(iii) We also noted, on average, that national cleaning funds were not remitted on time into the council’s accounts. (iv) There was improper waste disposal due to lack of ideal dumpsites

(v) Some companies or business entities operating within the locality of the councils provided trucks to collect garbage to identified dumpsites. However, we noted that there was no proper coordination between the councils and the business entities. (vi) Provisions on the use of public funds as stipulated in the Public Financial Management

(PFM) Rules and Regulations, and the Public Procurement Laws and Regulations, were in most instances not observed in the disbursement of funds allocated for the cleaning exercises. There were instances where items were procured without following the provisions in the procurement laws and regulations, withholding taxes not deducted, store items not taken on ledger and some payments without supporting documentation.

MYSTERY: Tiff Tiff God Laugh

…Hahaha

Fellow living and non living things; my name is Auditor Game Don Babala.

Today, I have an interesting story to narrate to you. It happened over five hundred years ago. It was during that period that the adage: ‘Tiff Tiff God Laugh Hahaha’ was invented.

I am a citizen of the village that never existed in real life – the Mystery Village. While the citizens of this village were also not captured in the world population census, there stories continue to amaze the real world.

Now let me narrate the story to you.

After two hundred years in power, the most corrupt regime ever in the history of the mystery village was removed from power and a not-too clean political party was elected with the hope of changing the narrative of the village. Indeed the election of Uncle Mr. Soja Man ushered in the dawn of a new era – leakages were blocked, saboteurs sacked, corruption attacked head-on and thieves ran helter skelter to save their lives.

An anti illiteracy campaign was immediately launched to ensure the citizens attain enough knowledge to be able to cause rudeness against the non-dictatorship regime, which was desperate to clean its not-too clean image of the past.

As all of this was happening and in my capacity as Auditor Game Don Babala, I was busy compiling evidence of past, present and even future corruption, because my instinct tells me that corruption will never die in the mystery village.

After my findings, I was faced with a tough choice. I normally release annual audit reports covering January to December. But I noticed that thieves I have captured, named and shamed over thirty years ago, had still not settled their outstanding refunds. And I can’t let them go unpunished. So I have to do something to remind the new regime that their were old thieves with significant amount of money to refund to the village. Also, since this annual report was going to cover the power transition period of which the most corrupt regime was still in power for for the first thirty (30) months of the year and the new not-too clean regime had served for the remaining ninety (90) months in the period to be covered by the annual report, it was going to be tough for the citizens to know who the real thieves of the year were. And it was also going to be impossible for the citizens to know the total amount separately stolen by the new and old regimes.

At the end of it all, I decided to capture the outstanding balances of the old thieves over a very long period of time, in addition to the annual thirty months long looting of the old corrupt regime and the ninety days introductory thievery of the new regime. So what I did was to name and shame the individuals and institutions, indicating what and when they looted the village and calculated all of the present and past looting and announce the grand total figure looted. I was hoping the genius in mathematics will carefully compile the list of past thieves and separate their figures from the list of the new practitioners. For example, I was expecting them to know that the loud mouthed press attache thief of the past regime was not a member of the new regime and I was not expecting them to mix his loot or calculate it as a loot of the new regime. The thousands of dollars he stole in the name of allowances for kids that do not carry his blood was supposed to be calculated in the list of old thieves.

(Press Attache Interrupts)

…But who told you I am a thief? And who told you my family secret that those kids do not carry my blood? Are you a member of my family? Are you my wife? Are you a DNA expert? How would you know that the kids I presented and received allowances on their behalf are not my kids? Are u trying to make me doubt my kids? Do you know the effort I exerted to bring these kids to the world? Do you think my wife will ever cheat on me? Don’t you know I would have divorced the mother of those kids if I had realized that she cheated on me? Or is that why I actually divorced her? What are you trying to say really? Or did I really know that they were not my kids but I needed to make them my kids so I can scoop money from the mystery village? Well let me make this clear to you, as long as I have collected plenty money on behalf of those kids, I hereby fully adopt them as my government kids for better or worse, till death do us part. My new wife will say amen to this.

(AUDITOR CONTINUES)

…I was hearing a very loud noise around but I can’t comprehend what the speaker was saying, so let me move ahead with my testimony.

As I was saying, I also did not expect the mystery citizens to calculate the $500,000 donation loot by that old Embassy to be mixed with the new regime’s loot. But because politics has drained all the great brains in the mystery village, I was not too surprised to see certain mystery citizens claiming the total amount of loot was exclusively undertaken by the new regime.

Now let me analyse the looting of the new regime…

(NEW MONEY SECRETARY INTERRUPTS)

Excuse me Mr Auditor Game Don Babala even before you say anything about us. On behalf of my Rich Money Minister, I hereby announce that we have read the content of your report with keen attention and noted all your concerns and observations in good faith. As a government that prides itself with zero tolerance on corruption, let me assure you that our President, Uncle Mr. Soja Man will promptly act on your findings and rid this government off any corrupt element. So no cause for alarm. We got this fully under our control. I thank you all.

(AUDITOR CONTINUES)

…What a brilliant intervention there by the new regime. Well, since you have assured us that action would be taken, I will not say any further.

However, the way the new and old thieves attacked themselves on the social media during that period to the extent of even branding themselves as ‘AYAMPI’ and ‘SUPER AYAMPI’ forced the neutral thieves to manufacture the adage: TIFF TIFF GOD LAUGH. Story go, story cam

US Cautioned Citizens as police lack capacity to respond to serious crimes in Sierra Leone

The ineptitude of the police to a large extent has only exacerbated the situation making it worse for peace-loving people in the country to go about their daily routines without fear of being robbed. No wonder the United States government has intervened to caution its own citizens while in Sierra Leone. (Photo: The US ambassador to Sierra Leone Marie Brewer pose with President Julius Maada Bio).

Reports say the American Embassy in Freetown has rightly cautioned US citizens traveling to Sierra Leone and those already in the country to be very alert and to avoid creating the situation to attract thieves on their persons while commuting in the country.

The dressing down of the Sierra Leone Police is a serious embarrassment for the government. A press statement issued by the US embassy in Freetown did not mince words about the present situation. “The local police lack the resources, capacity, and training to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents,” the US Embassy states.

Dated on 16th December 2019, the US press release on State Department Travel Notice warned all United States citizens to exercise increased caution in Sierra Leone due to crime. The press statement reads below:

Country Summary: Violent crime, such as armed robbery, and assault, is common. Local police lack the resources, capacity, and training to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.

The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside Freetown at night as U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling outside the capital after dark. (Photo: The outgoing Sierra Leone Police Chief Dr Richard Moigbe is leaving the post in a poor state).

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page. If you decide to travel to Sierra Leone:

▪Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.

▪Do not display signs of wealth, such as expensive watches or jewelry.

▪Use caution when walking or driving at night. Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location.

▪Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

▪Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.

▪Review the Crime and Safety Report for Sierra Leone.

▪Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Last Update: Reissued after periodic review with minor edits, the press statement ends.

Courtesy: US Embassy in Sierra Leone

“Today, I announce that following a thorough, independent and objective assessment of all reliable information available to my Office, the preliminary examination into the Situation in Palestine has concluded with the determination that all the statutory criteria under the Rome Statute for the opening of an investigation have been met. Given the unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation, namely, the territory within which the investigation may be conducted, I deemed it necessary to rely on article 19(3) of the Statute to resolve this specific issue […] It is necessary for this specific matter before the Chamber to be resolved without undue delay so that my Office can take the appropriate next steps accordingly in the independent and objective exercise of our mandate.”

Yeah

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda concludes preliminary examination of Palestine situation, seeks ruling on scope of Court’s territorial jurisdiction. Read full statement ⤵

Credit ICC FB page

MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION

The Ministry recruited 12 outreach officers and paid them total salaries of Le396,613,626.00

for August and September 2018 without prior approval from the Office of the President as mandated by the Executive Order No. 2 of 25th April, 2018.

There was no evidence to substantiate that

the recruitment process for 12 outreach officers was competitive and transparent.

Furthermore, justification for payment of salaries totalling Le396,613,626 to the 12 Outreach Officers, for August and September 2018 was not submitted for verification. Therefore, the

issue remains unresolved.

(Audit Report 2018)

100 YEARS FROM NOW

100 years from now will be the year 2119. By then, every single reader of this piece will be underground, our bodies having become part of the soil. During that time, our fate in respect to paradise or hell would have been made known to us.

Meanwhile above the soil, our houses that were left behind would have become either homes for others or demolished for better structures. Our clothes would have become destroyed or rags for others and replaced by more recent trends; our cars will be on display as historical artifacts by others or recycled for more advanced technology. But for us, we will be, for the most part, never thought about by anyone again. Think of it, how often do you think about your great grandfather? How often does your great grandmother cross your mind?. You see!

Our presence here on earth today, that presence that we make so much noise about and shed so many tears for, was preceded by countless generations before us and shall be followed by countless generations after us Jesus tarries. Every generation that passes through this world barely finds the time to take a glance at the world, before needing to bid it farewell and handing over the baton, having not fulfilled even a fraction of their ambitions. Our lives are, in reality, far shorter than we imagine.

In 2119, every one of us will realise from wherever just how worthless this world actually was, and how trivial those dreams were that we centred on.

In 2119,some amongst us will be wishing that we had dedicated our lives to great matters of GOD, doing His bid, and devoted ourselves to doing good deeds, particularly those things that will continue to benefit us after our death.

In 2119, some reading this piece will be screaming out, but in vain:

“Lord return me! Give me another chance, so that I may have another opportunity to live for you ..”

The response to this request, however, shall be

“No!  and behind them is now a barrier until that Great Day.”

In 2119, many will be in regret, saying:

“I wish that I had prepared for life after my journey on earth.”

Let us reappraise ourselves, for surely what happened to those we talk of, heard of and read of will surely happen to us. Let us take advantage of today while it is called TODAY. Tomorrow is not yours yet until it comes. Pls don’t FORGET that “whatsoever a man sows on this planet 🌎, that must he surely reap”.

I hereby humbly appeal to every honorable member of this noble platform to use this opportunity to share this important message to your contacts as part of your personal EVANGELISM. and live your life on this planet earth wisely, May the Almighty God help us, and may “you workout your salvation with trembling and fear”

*Please do not FORTET; *WE WILL ALL DIE Someday*

Chad: ‘More than a dozen killed in Boko Haram attack’

More than a dozen people were killed in a Boko Haram attack on a fishing village in western Chad on Tuesday, a government official has said.

“There were 14 dead, five wounded and 13 missing in the attack” near the village of Kaiga on the shores of Lake Chad, Imouya Souabebe, the prefect of the region, told AFP news agency on Wednesday.

More:What’s behind the upsurge in violence in the Sahel?Chad declares emergency in east after ethnic killingsOver 20 Chadian soldiers ‘killed in Boko Haram raid’

Kaiga lies in marshland in a remote, sprawling region where the borders of four countries – Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Nigeria – meet.

The village is about 60km from the border with northeast Nigeria, the springboard for Boko Haram raids and kidnappings in neighbouring countries.

“We know that there are always Boko Haram elements moving around the (border) area, so they are behind this attack,” Souabebe said.

“The attackers first came in a small group and then brought in reinforcements to attack the fishermen,” he added.

The region’s governor, Noki Charfadine, gave a toll of at least nine dead.

He said the attack had taken place in a “red zone, where fishing is forbidden.”

Boko Haram launched its armed campaign in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, killing tens of thousands of people and causing millions to flee.

The spread of violence to Chad, Cameroon and Niger has prompted the formation of a regional military coalition, the G5 Sahel force, to fight the armed group.

French President Emmanuel Macron recently postponed a key summit focusing on France’s military operation in the Sahel region until the beginning of next year, after rebel fighters killed at least 71 soldiers in Niger last week.

The summit had initially been scheduled for December 16 in the French southern town of Pau with the participation of the heads of state of Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Mauritania.

France has a 4,500-strong force dubbed Barkhane supporting the five countries fighting against the armed group.

How the price of bandwidth can be cut in African countries

All over the world, the internet has provided extraordinary socioeconomic opportunities to businesses, governments, and individuals. But less developed countries still face numerous obstacles to maximise its potential. The problems range from obsolete infrastructure, the nonavailability, non-accessibility, cost, power fluctuations, policies and regulation.

Many countries on the continent still have bandwidth as low as 64 kilobits. This is in contrast to the 270,000 megabits per second in the US. Data also shows that downloading a 5GB movie took 734 minutes in the Republic of Congo, 788 minutes in Sao Tome, 850 minutes in Ethiopia, 965 minutes in Niger and 1,342 minutes in Equatorial Guinea. Singapore is the fastest, taking about 11 minutes and 8 seconds to download a typical 5GB high-definition movie. In certain situations, bandwidths for the entire country is less than what is available to an individual residential subscriber in the US.

Similarly, African countries are listed among those with the lowest internet speed yet with the most expensive communication and internet cost in the world.

Africa is on record to have had the fastest growing mobile telecommunication market over the years. But the continent still has the lowest mobile penetration. And developments in Africa’s telecommunications sector happen in cities and urban centres. Service providers argue that it’s not economically feasible to roll out a network to cover an entire country .

But various advanced technologies are emerging to reduce the cost of internet provision and to increase accessibility. They also offer the possibility of developing communication networks in a way that does less harm to the environment.

The approach is called resource virtualisation, where multiple telecommunication services can be provided by less physical infrastructure. Since the chunk of the cost transferred to the end-user comes from the cost of power and infrastructural management, this approach can reduce the operational cost, improve accessibility and cut the cost to the end user.

Rethinking how masts are sited

Like every architectural work, telecommunication masts must meet specific constructional requirements, including choice of location and risk analysis. But unregulated construction is typical in many parts of Africa. Even where regulatory bodies exist, many media and communication masts are sited within very short distances and hilly grounds in big cities.

This is true in Ghana too where in an urban environment it’s possible to see 10 masts within close proximity to one another. This does not necessarily guarantee quality service. In addition, it poses a severe environmental and physical risk.

Masts are also expensive to put up.

It stands to reason, therefore, that having fewer masts, hence using less energy and doing less damage to the environment would be the optimal way forward.

I have been involved in developing a framework along with other colleagues that can help policymakers demarcate, and zone major cities – or the whole country into zones. Each zone takes only one mast, owned by an infrastructure provider and shared by multiple service providers.

I focused on telecommunications, but the principle can be applied to TV and radio signal towers too.

My proposal involves a three-level architecture that includes a provider who owns and manages the infrastructure.

At the upper level is a Cloud-RAN macro-base station. A provider like the state regulator, can own and manage the data from the base station.

The macro base station is responsible for managing the system’s energy, bandwidth allocation, and flow management, including the handover in intra and inter mast zones. At the middle level, service providers focus on providing tailored and quality of service to their users. The service providers will not have to spend their resources on managing the infrastructure they only have to deal with how to satisfy users. The user on the third level has to only deal with the service providers.

This framework will bring an end to uncontrolled mast deployment seen in many African countries. It would allow for power and bandwidth sharing among multiple service providers and would reduce the need for multiple masts. Traffic would be scheduled over limited masts or access points that reduce the system energy consumption and improve efficiency. The general impact on the environment would also be reduced.

Service providers could then focus on end-users and not on infrastructures.

Africa News

18/12/19

*Zambia orders  pro-gay US Ambassador to leave*

Weeks after Zambian president openly rejected the United States ambassador’s pro-gay stance in a recent court judgment, the government has reportedly asked that the envoy leaves the Southern African country whiles it awaits diplomatic response from the United States.

The rift between Zambia and Ambassador Daniel Foote was ignited when the latter said he was “horrified” by the 15-year jail term handed to a gay couple. He went on to publicly criticize the government and defend his pro-gay stance.

But Zambia’s Foreign Minister in a strongly worded statement asked the ambassador to refer to ongoings in Washington where president Trump was pushing pro-family and anti-LGBTI policies.

At a church event over the weekend, President Edgar Lungu made reference to a diplomatic démarche between the two countries. Lusaka had written to Washington concerning the ambassador’s comments.

A December 15, 2019 statement from the presidency read in part: “State House will like to clarify that the president was not referring to any new démarche but the same one issued by Foreign Affairs.

“Therefore the Zambian government is still waiting for a response from the United States government concerning the complaint.”

The President has stood by his nation’s strict anti-homosexuality laws stressing in an interview with Britain’s Sky News that homosexuality was “unbiblical and un-Christian,” going further to liken it to bestiality.

“We know that there could be people who are homosexual in Zambia. But we don’t want to promote it, because we frown upon it, the practice. Most of us say it’s wrong. It’s unbiblical, un-Christian and we don’t want it.

“Even animals don’t do it. Why should we be forced to do it because we want to be forced to do it because we want to be seen to be seen to be smart, to be seen to civilised and advanced and so on.

“If there are such countries which will allow bestiality, let them do it. But not here,” the president added.

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