Paolo’s Conviction Appeal Faces Setback

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By Feima Sesay

The state who is the respondent in Paolo Conteh Appealed case has on Tuesday 24 November 2020, applied for the appeals on sentencing and conviction to be stroke off.

The lead counsel for the respondent (state) Joseph A.K Sesay made this application before Justice Ivan Sesay, Justice Bintu Alhadi and Justice Tonia Bernett presiding over the matter.

He informed the court that the jurisdictional objection starts that on 14 July 2020, the appellant file two notice of criminal appeal 5&6 separately against the conviction and the sentencing and that both set were served on the respondent and that both side file a written synopsis in compliance with the direction of the court.

J.A.k Sesay on that grounds objected for appeal against the  sentence to be heard before the court, and further applied that the purported notice of appeal against the sentence file on 14 July 2020 and all subsequent  writing argument relating to sentence imposed on appellant by the court below be stroke off.

He stated that the argument should be stroke off for the following reasons: firstly he said the appellant in filing the notice about f appeal failed to comply with section 57 paragraph c of the court act 1965 Act No 31 of 1965, noting that leaves was never granted by the court of appeals or a certificate obtained by the court below allowing the appellant to appeal against sentences that were not fixed by law.

He argued further that sentence pass on conviction relating to the offence of keeping greater number of arms and having a loaded small arms in a public place contrary to section 32 (1) with regards to the first conviction, that is on count 10, the regulation provide that a person who contravene that regulation commit an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding Le 5 million or an imprisonment not less than 12 months.

He submitted that both counts are not fix by law but are discretional , he said with regards to the two offences for which the appellant is before the court, they are not fix by law and therefore a trial judge can used his/her discretion.

” If you are appealing against the discretion of a trial judge, it must be done by the leave of the court of appeal”, he said.

Lawyer Sesay argued further that, both sentences cannot be appealed against as of right and therefore refered the court to the ruling delivered by Justice Taylor Kamara in the matter the state vs Jonathan Decker criminal appeal 20/2018.

He therefore applied for the appellant appealed against the sentence and conviction not to be heard, adding that they are intertwined.

He said in as much as the appeal against conviction stands on its own it can be argued as of right, because it effect would touch on the appeal against sentence for  which he submitted that the court of appeal lacks the jurisdiction to listened to.

He submitted further that in the absence of the leave of the court to hear the matter, the appellant applicant be precluded from arguing the appealed before the court and that the appealed be stroke off.

He relied on the provision of section 57 c and that is of the court.

The appellant (Alfred Paolo Conteh) applicant Lead counsel Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara in response  to the application made by the respondent(State) lawyer, he  stated that the appeal are two   different  versions and  stand  and further share equal weight.

He also argued there are two independent grounds of appeals and stand not appellant with each other as they are separate and distinct from each other and stand alone.

He further submitted that there is no correlation between the argument of sentencing and the argument of conviction and the independent argument on grounds 10 which is duplicity.

 He said the argument regarding the two is of no consequence legal concept and therefore inefficacious. He further intimated the court that the crux of the respondent argument is for them to seek the leave of the court of appeal on sentencing and if they failed to do so they should not come before the court, he therefore stated that, that line of argument is completely misconceived.

He further submitted that the construct of fix by law means that the penal provision provides that a judge cannot go above or below the maximum.

J.F Kamara said the argument that exercise that means it is not fix by law is wrong.

He also stated that the conviction of Justice Taylor Kamara are merely observation in passing comments and therefore cannot stand before the court as precedent.

Lawyer Kamara refered the court to regulation 29(2) of the arms and ammunition regulation of 2014 that is fix by law. He therefore argued that discretion is vacuous.

He added that section 57 c is misconceived in that it is not a jurisdictional objection but a procedural one.

In conclusion, Lawyer kamara pleaded with the court to hear the appeal before the court in the interest of Justice.

The matter was however adjourned to the 1st December 2020 for ruling.

Pres. Bio Offers Le9 Billion For Skills Development

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  His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has presented a cheque of over Le 9 billion to the Skills Development Fund to initially benefit over 1,660 citizens in the Kenema and Kailahun Districts, eastern Sierra Leone.  Paramount Chief of Njaluahun Chiefdom, James Sheriff Coker-Jajua, expressed joy for receiving the President, but most importantly for the launch of the skills development fund in his chiefdom that would support middle-level manpower through technical education. “I am humbled to welcome you all to Njaluahun Chiefdom and to tell you that the Free Quality Education has really helped the poor people of this country,” he stated.

Member of Parliament for Constituency 008, Honourable Wuyata Bernadette Songa, thanked the President for the opportunity given to her people to host the launch for the Skills Development Fund in Njaluahun Chiefdom.

 She noted that such an initiative would go a long way to strengthen and deepen the foundation of the Free Quality Education.

She, therefore, encouraged the people of the district, particularly the youth to take good care of such an opportunity, which she said would help the middleman power.

Minister of Tertiary and Higher Education, Professor Aiah Gbakima, said the project was in partnership with the World Bank and that it would cater for those students who couldn’t get requirements to enter universities and colleges. He said with those skills training centres like carpentry, tailoring, mechanics and others, the development fund would have targeted about 8,000 beneficiaries by 2023.

“This exercise went through extended inter-agency partnerships. I thank all partners, including the World Bank,” he concluded.

Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, told the gathering that it was a government of Sierra Leone owned project, but partnered with the World Bank to implement the first phase in the east of the country.

“The World Bank has seen the political will of this administration to make education accessible to everyone in the country. And this skills development initiative is in line with the 2018 manifesto of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party government,” he stated.

Minister Saffa also noted that the Skills Development Fund had over 120 billion that would span through 2024, adding that the more funding the programme got the more their government would extend the implementation to other districts. 

His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio said that he was happy to be in Njaluahun, particularly in Segbewema, where the people were always very excited to welcome him as one of their own.

“My visit here today is to launch the Skills Development Fund and to show that my government values education. Education should be treated seriously because it is the only means to lasting development,” he said.

He continued by saying that the Fund would incorporate those who could not make it to universities and colleges, thereby making them very useful for nation-building. He admonished the youth of the district to take their education seriously because he believed that education was a universal key that would unlock every door.

“Education is good for nation-building and for personal development. Therefore, I urge you all to make every effort to support this programme. The future ahead of us in very challenging and it is only education that will prepare us all for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I now have the honour to launch the Skills Development Fund, to help foster education,” he concluded.

 

ACC Conducts Interview With Ernest Bai Koroma

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The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has on Monday 23rd November, 2020 informed the general public that it has commenced and proceeded with the interview of the former President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, in relation to investigations into allegations of corruption, whilst he was President of the country, from 2007 to 2018.

The said interview took place at one of the Commission’s secured “Safe Houses”. The interview will continue on another date agreed between the ACC and former President Koroma’s lawyers.

In this light, the Commission wishes to reassure the general public of its determination to continue discharging its mandate as provided for in the Anti-Corruption Act No. 12 of 2008 as Amended in 2019. 

However, a similar press statement has also emanated from the Leadership of the All Peoples Congress (APC) informing its members, supporters and the public that the Chairman and Leader of our party, former President of Sierra Leone, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma availed himself for the much anticipated interview with the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The interview was conducted in a respectful, dignified and amicable environment and despite all efforts to complete the interview on a single day; it could not be completed due to time constraints.

The former President is cooperating fully and intends to continue in that vein and the interview will continue on a date to be agreed upon by the parties.

The Chairman and Leader had always insisted on his willingness to be interviewed and his commitment to transparency and accountability, and continue to reassure the public of this commitment.

The party urges all members and supporters to continue to remain calm and abide by the laws of Sierra Leone.

The statement continues that the former President is not under arrest or facing any constraints. He is in good spirits and extends his thanks and appreciation to his supporters and well-wishers for their support and prayers.

 

 

 

Orange Money “Shoki Love” Dashes 55Million To 12 Winners

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By Feima Sesay

In a bid to fulfill it promises in continuing to put smile on the faces of their valued and esteemed customers across the country, orange money which is one of the reliable offer of Orange SL has on Saturday 21 November 2020 dashed out Le55 Million to twelve winners in the fifth sets of winners of their “Orange Money Shoki Love” promotion at a live TV event hosted by Martha and Saio the comedian SLBC New England Villle Freetown.

The fifth sets of winners comprises of 7 male and 5 female. These  twelve lucky  winners for this fifth  edition were Fatmata who won Le 2 Million, Aliya Amira student from Metchem Goderich won Le 5 million, Alusine from   Rutile won Le 4 million, another Alusine from Kenema won Le 4 million, Osman Kargbo from Kono won Le 1 million, Mustapha from Pujehun won Le 10 million from the “Orange Money Shoki” box, Lucy Conteh a charcoal seller from Congotown  won Le 4 million, Martha a student from Bo won Le 9 million from the Shoki box, Jona Kanu from Makeni  also won Le 5 million from the Shoki box, Abdul from Kabala won Le 3 million, Isatu from Madina Tonkolimba won Le 3 million whiles Mamoud from Bo town won Le 5 million.

The “Orange Money Shorki Love” promotion is part of the company’s end of year promotion that is offering 3 Billion Leones as prizes including 5 Brand New Cars to be won by customers.

Orange SL is one of the reliable telecommunication company in the country that cares for its subscribers and is very determined to change the lives of its customers in order to give them improved standards of living. “It against such a backdrop that the company decided to launch such a promotion with the strong belief that it will be helpful during these COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Therefore Subscribers are encouraged to grab the opportunity in order to do transactions using Orange Money which will qualify them to win the Le 3 Billion worth of prizes on a weekly basis including 5 cars to be won as a grand prize at the end of the promotion. Therefore in order for subscribers to win these prizes from the weekly draw, they must be registered with Orange Money and also do transactions using Orange Money by sending money, cashing in, paying for EDSA or DSTV, buy airtime or data bundles from 15th October 2020 to January 2021 which will put them at the advantage positions to get a chance to win those attractive prizes.

RCB & Govt to Construct Bus Station in Kailahun

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His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio together with the Managing Director of the Rokel Commercial Bank (RCB) has turned sod for the construction of a bus station in Kailahun Town, eastern Sierra Leone.

Welcoming people to the occasion, Paramount Chief of Luawa Chiefdom, Sama Kailondo Banya, said that they were gathered to witness an important development for the construction of a bus station. He noted that because government should cater for the need of its people, the Sierra Leone People’s Party government was truly governing in the interest of the people.

“Your Excellency, Kailahun has suffered for a long time but under your leadership we are beginning to see development not only in Kailahun but in the whole of the country. Your government has given school buses for our children. If the township develops, cost of living will reduce in the district,” he said.

Managing Director of Rokel Commercial Bank, Dr Walton Ekundayo Gilpin, said that they were glad to partner with the Sierra Leone Roads Transport Cooperation for constructing the bus station in Kailahun.

He said he saw the political will in transforming the country under the leadership of President Bio, adding that was why the bank partnered with SLRTC to deliver on the bus station.

“Rokel Commercial Bank will continue to work with the government in its development drive,” he assured.

Director General of SLRTC, Ken Green, thanked the people of Kailahun for providing a piece of land for the construction of a bus station in their district, noting that the move was because every citizen of the country should benefit from national and local development.

Mr. Green also thanked the management of the Rokel Commercial Bank for partnering with them to ensure that decentralization of infrastructure is achieved.

He told the audience that his cooperation was working very closely with the Ministry of Transport and Aviation and that they had signed an agreement for the procurement of 200 buses that would be in country before April of 2021.

“The World Bank has also provided the government of Sierra Leone with a $50 million grant for the transport sector. The Ministry of Transport and Aviation will also procure additional 100 buses. So, by the end of 2023, 300 buses will be available with the cooperation and that would drastically reduce the constraints on the transport sector,” he noted.

In his short statement before the turning of the sod, President Julius Maada Bio said that development was a huge milestone in the history of Kailahun, adding that the bus would ease the problems of accessing public transportation.

He further stated that the country had long suffered from the lack of access to public transport system, but assured that his government would continue to put people at the centre of their development agenda.

“The country has for a long time lagged behind in matching up with modern developments. Transportation is very important but to access it there should be the requisite infrastructure to make it available. I am happy for this move, it is a right step in the right direction,” he noted.

President Bio also commended the initiative of SLRTC to partner with Rokel Commercial Bank in making sure that they ameliorate the transportation constraints of the people of Kailahun.

He therefore urged the people of Kailahun to embrace and cooperate with the management of such a development.

“To the two institutions, I thank you for doing what I expect of you to deliver to the people. I especially thank the leadership of SLRTC for giving life once more to the institution that was only functional in Freetown,“ he noted.

 NEC Discusses 2020-2024 Electoral Cycle Strategic Plan

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Mohamed Konneh, Chief Electoral Officer and NEC Chairperson

National Electoral Commission (NEC) has presented and discussed the Commission’s Strategic Plan for the Electoral Cycle 2020-2024 validation with stakeholders last week at the New Brookfields Hotel, Freetown.

Mohamed Konneh, Chief Electoral Officer and NEC Chairperson remarked to participants including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Political Parties and partners that the Strategic Plan was an action-oriented practical guide that sets out what and how the commission wants to achieve in the next five years.

He demonstrated the strategic goals of the Strategic Plan that, it seeks to ensure NEC mandate is delivered in a legally sound environment, provide a pathway for a sustainable funding of elections and election related activities, ensuring the commission to operate efficiency and effectively and ensure transparent and accountable to its stakeholders and donors.

The NEC Chairperson also explained that the theme of the Strategic Plan was to ‘Strengthening Electoral Processes for Maximum Performance’ that urged NEC to collaborate with stakeholders to advocate for the establishment and effective management of a NEST (National Elections Sustainability Trust)-Fund including a legislation on the effective management of the fund.

The European Union Ambassador to Sierra Leone Tom Vens encompassed NEC for such validation and submitted that NEC has set its vision to be “an independent, credible and well-resourced institution which promotes democracy and good governance by continually administering credible elections that meet international standards and practices.”

He said the EU remains committed to supporting the roll out of this Strategic Plan with the current governance technical assistance programme they are already collaborating with. 

NEC Officer admonished political representatives, CSOs that as NEC intends to conduct Bye-Elections, and it has recognized some election tensions from some politicians, he is kindly calling on political parties that “let’s conduct elections, let’s going to the polling stations, while the kids will be playing on the street.”

NEC does not create the environment for violence, it does not have the security at disposal, instead elections are being conducted with stakeholders involve in the process, and the responsibility of every stakeholders is to take the message of peace and hope that the result in the process of free and fair elections that will be accepted by all of us.

Rashid Dumbuya Esq, Executive Director of Legal Link called on NEC and the Sierra Leone Police to collaborate in order to bring Justice about those who perpetrate elections violence, before going to another electioneering process. 

Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusus Saffa, reaffirmed government commitment that Ministry of Finance will engage the management of NEC and partners to support the commission, and the government has agreed to establish “a special election fund,” to avoid delays in disbursement resources to NEC.

Tamba Sandy, National Chairperson for the Coalition for Change (C4C) encouraged NEC to be looking the Legal Reforms when it comes into electioneering process.

 

Home Love Film Production Calls on First Lady to Revive Movie Industry

By Foday Jalloh

The Home Love film production, a film production owned by a young sierra Leonean, Mohamed VBB Kabba is requesting on the first lady, Madam Fatima Bio to step in and help in boosting the Sierra Leone film industry.

According to the executive producer for the home movie production, Mr Kabba says that they are making this call because they see the love and passion from the first lady and that through her intervention, the film industry can in the country. He maintains that the first lady before reaching that peak she has been acting so many standard movies which portrayed a lot of good messages to the world.

We are making this request further because we have seen many other countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and many others which have heavy support from the government are thriving and their film industries are highly appreciated in the world. Therefore, if we too can have the support from our first lady, the film industry will be another form of employment for sierra Leoneans, more especially the youths that are crying for jobs. He stated.

The executive producer further maintained that if Sierra Leone movie industry has the necessary support from personalities such as the first lady, there is a believe that many other private investor players will throw their weight into the film industry. Sierra Leone has so many young talented people who can act very good films.

Under the little sponsor of this young Sierra Leonean being the executive producer mr Kabba they have able to produce many films as some are on the market others are on their way, the producer ended up saying that the first lady has been an actress before being a first lady.

First EU/PMU Technical Committee Meeting In Freetown

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A high powered technical team form the European Union( EU) including the EU First Counsellor and Head of Cooperation, Gerald Hattler, has held their first successful meeting with District Council Authorities from 4 local councils, Bombali District Council in the North, Kambia District Council in the North-West, Kenema District Council in the East and Pujehun District Council in the South on the EU supported project, “Support to Civil Society and Local Authorities to promote local development in Sierra Leone”. The meeting which was held at the Country Lodge Hotel in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on Friday 20th November 2020, was facilitated by members of the Project Management Unit (PMU), which is tasked with the implementation of the project.

 

EU First Counsellor and Head of Cooperation, Gerald Hetler, said he was impressed by the seriousness that is being given to the utilisation of the funds provided by the EU to support and improve sustainable local economic development through decentralisation by strengthening the capacity of selected civil society and local councils to respond to the COVID 19 pandemic, mobilise local revenue and deliver services that will contribute to improved well-being of local citizens.

“From what I have seen today, I am of the strongest conviction that what is happening here is a clear manifestation of the synergy we want the PMU to build between the local councils and civil society organisations the EU is supporting with this grant. It is best to know what is known locally and to bring all the actions together to improve the situation. We expect to see great results that will make great impact and leave good legacies for the future” he said.

Team leader for the PMU, Dr. Julius Muthali, said that the 23 Million Euro EU support to local authorities and CSOs project cannot be done without engagements such as the Technical Committee meeting where all the experts in the PMU and the beneficiaries from the Districts would share unique experiences and have open and frank discussions on what can and will be done to ensure results with maximum impact are achieved throughout the lifespan of the project and beyond it.

“We think we have the utmost responsibility to ensure that we all agree that we do what is best for the local councils and CSOs who are benefiting from this project. We believe that by working together, we will be able to provide them all the support and guidance they need to succeed in their aspirations for meaningful and sustainable development” Dr. Munthali said.

The PMU Human Development and Capacity Building Experts, Mr Sulley Felix Mintiegmah and Dr. Henry Mbawa, respectively, spoke about the proposed programme approaches from the PMU perspective in their presentations.

Several other speakers, including the Monitoring and Evaluation Manager from the Decentralisation Secretariat, Colina Macauley, and the Director of Fiscal Decantralisation Division, Ministry of Finance, Adams Bangura, also spoke about their own specific roles in the implementation of the project. Colina Macualey emphasised her Secretariat’s firm commitment to the Project, while Adams Bangura outlined the framework of engagement they have designed for the implementation of the project and how they plan to commission a study on Chiefdom Finance to look at all the funding issues on a case by case basis.

Presentations on achievements against plans by different Chief Administrators of District councils present, showed that the problems they had with issues such as weak capacity, entrenched interests, political will, conflicting policy and legal environment, weak enforcement and lack of trust that used to be obstacles for development at the District council level are now being addressed and the District Councils are now able to identify and articulate the impact of their projects at the community level.

Chief Administrator, Kambia District Council, Edward Alpha, said that the opportunity provided by the project for them to work with Civil Society Organisation in furtherance of their development aspirations has opened a new chapter in the development environment at the District level. The same sentiment was expressed by all his other counterparts in the meeting.

 ‘We are of the conviction that such working relationships would not only minimise overlaps and white elephant projects, but would engender a meaningful relationship between all the development actors and ensure sustainable development at the local level” Chief Administrator, Ahmed Koroma, from the Kenema District council emphasised.

According to the EU representatives and members of the PMU, the next step will now be to organise a Project Steering Committee Meeting, which will bring together all the major players, including Government Ministers and Local Council Chairmen.

 

PARLIAMENT COMMENCES DEBATE ON 2021 BUDGET

The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Monday 23rd November 2020 commenced debate on the Bill entitled: “The Appropriation Act, 2021” themed “economic recovery for job creation and human capital development”, delivered by the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa in the Chamber of Parliament on Friday 13th November 2020.

The Bill is seeking authorization of expenditure from the consolidated fund for the services for Sierra Leone for the year 2021 and other related matters.

Speaking to the motion, Hon. Francis Amara Kai-Samba, Chairman of the Finance Committee appreciated the work of the Ministry of Finance for holding the economy together, cognizant of the negative effects of COVID-19 on many economies in the world. He described the budget as “a fine one”. He also said that the policy on public debt has serious consequences on economic growth of in country and noted that the government is pursuing more grants than loans to develop the nation. He acknowledged government’s efforts aimed at improving education, health, marine, tourism, water, infrastructural development and youth empowerment.

Submitting, Hon. Sallieu Osman Sesay, Chairman of Agriculture Committee commended the Finance Ministry for allocating huge budget to the agriculture sector and believed that such a budgetary allocation would yield dividends for the nation in respect of local processing and production of food. Calling on the government to lay premium on the growth of agriculture by putting proper modalities in place, it would result in boosting the economy of the country. Speaking on challenges in the agriculture sector, he called on the government to do more especially by concentrating and strengthening the various divisions in the agriculture sector.

 

Hon. Shiaka Musa Sama, Independent MP from Pujehun District said there are very impressive things in the budget. Commending the Finance Ministry, he urged his colleague MPs to be more constructive in their debate than to criticize. He also spoke on the need for effective parliamentary oversight on MDAs to ensure that they deliver on the policies and programmes of government. He lauded the efforts of government for improving the education sector and for capacitating chieftaincy administration in the country.

Contributing, Hon. Paul Saa Sam of C4C described the budget as “a good one that caters for human capital development”. He commended the Ministry of Health for the provision of ambulance services in the country. On agriculture, he applauded the government for purchasing 250 tractors to enhance the agriculture sector. He called on government to lay emphasis on the education sector and that Parliament should establish an ad-hoc committee in collaboration with the Education Committee in Parliament to investigate the latest and massive failure in WASSCE in the country due to the results recently released by WAEC. He disclosed that none of the pupils who sat to WASSCE in Kono District was able to get requirement to enter university.

In his submission, Hon. Moses Edwin said the Minister and his Team are on the right trajectory to move and shape the economy of Sierra Leone. He praised the ministry for salary increments of service personnel working in the security sector and described the budget as “a people-centered budget”; whilst acknowledged the tremendous strides that have been made by the government for the development of the country’s economy.

Hon. Abdul Muniru Lansana commended government for putting premium on the education sector and praised the Ministry of Education for recruiting 140 school monitors. He also thanked government for actions taken to improve infrastructure and measures adopted to capacitate the youth such as youth farms, youth-in-fishing and a drastic reduction in maternal and morbidity rate in the country.  

Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara said the reduction of maternal mortality rate is the hard work of the previous government and decried the way and manner in which funds were administered to persons with disability to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on them through NaCSA. He said that this administration is not serious about diversifying agriculture by giving private sector the opportunity to invest in agriculture through local farmers.

Hon. Dr. Ibrahim Bun Kamara opposed the slow space in the agriculture sector and called on government to put greater efforts to improving the said sector.

Hon. Dominic Tshombe challenged the statement made that government is not serious about agriculture. He said through government support and its international partners, agriculture would boom by expanding and strengthening its divisions. He referred to the budget as holistic and good for economic recovery. 

Other MPs who spoke to the motion called on government to strengthen local council administration and the creation of linkages between Freetown and the riverine areas for economic development.

The debate continues tomorrow and representatives of MDAs are required to attend and on time.

 

Pres. Bio Turns Sod for the Construction of an Ultra-Modern Hospital in Jojoima

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 His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has turned the sod for the construction of an ultra-modern hospital in the Jojoima Township, the chiefdom headquarter of Malema Chiefdom in the Kailahun District.

Welcoming the entourage, Paramount Chief Lamin Pamly Ngevao thanked President Bio for visiting, adding that that particular visit was so historic that his people in the chiefdom would live to appreciate and celebrate it in many years to come.

He also thanked Bintu Jibao, founder and coordinator of the Women In Agriculture project in the district, for helping his chiefdom by bringing in the initiative that was now providing job opportunities for many of the young women in that part of the country, thereby complementing government’s efforts at prioritising agriculture.

Giving an overview of the hospital project, Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr Thomas Samba, disclosed that the structure would be an ultra-modern 45-bed facility with a unit to cater for pregnant women and lactating mothers and their children and a laboratory unit for tests, a blood bank unit, a surgery and an isolation unit that would be used in an event of an emergency outbreak.

He continued by saying that the hospital would have a morgue facility and staff quarter that would host doctors and nurses.

“This is a project that will support the President’s agenda in human capital development,” he noted.

Minister of Health and Sanitation, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, commended the people for their willingness to own the project, stating that the people of Jojoima were very progressive. He noted that the hospital would serve all purposes, just like any other hospital in the big towns and cities.

Before the turning of the sod, President Bio said that he was happy to be with the people of Jojoima, adding that he was particularly appreciative of their support for his government and their belief in the New Direction agenda. He said he was excited to turn the sod for the construction of the hospital for people in that part of the country.

“As a leader of this great nation, I am of the view that the handwork of my government should be felt in every district of the country. I am doing so because you the people are at the centre of my leadership. This is why I am here today to turn the sod for the construction of a hospital that will be of great help for the entire chiefdom and even beyond,” he said.

President Bio also encouraged them to embrace the free quality education programme that his government was providing, noting that more emphasis should be placed on the girl child.

“Parents should allow their children to go to school and should discourage their communities from giving them into early marriages. When a girl child is educated there will be rapid growth in the development of that community or locality,” he urged.

 First Lady Launches Women in Agriculture Project in Woroma

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Her Excellency First Lady Fatima Maada Bio has launched the Women in Agriculture Project in the township of Woroma, Kailahun District in the east of Sierra Leone.

According to the founder and coordinator of Women In Agriculture Project, Bintu Jibao, the initiative started in 2018 when she saw the need for women in the chiefdom to support President Bio’s effort at investing in the agriculture sector to deliver on a food sufficient nation.

She maintained that the project had already empowered women to farm, process, sell their produce and become self-reliant.

“Your Excellency, this project has also helped 18 primary schools with teaching and learning materials and has helped 4,512 pupils and students with educational materials. The project has also implemented adult literacy programmes to help the women in this community to be able to read and write. There are 150 women currently enrolled in this school and are ready to learn,” she noted.

She further stated that the project was targeting 79 women groups that grew a variety of crops that were now been sold even beyond the district.

Acting Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr Abubakarr Karim, said that he was happy for the display of the agricultural initiative by women of Malema Chiefdom, noting that his ministry would support women in the agriculture sector.

“This is a laudable venture. These are some of the projects that the ministry looks forward to supporting with machines in order to increase productivity among women farmers not just in the chiefdom or district, but also for the entire country,” the minister said, adding that he was encouraging the women and people of the district to continue farming.

He said if everybody was involved in farming it would save the country over $ 200 million of annual import of rice alone.

Delivering the keynote address, First Lady Fatima Maada Bio thanked the women and people of the chiefdom for what she called a development infrastructure in agriculture, stating that she was amazed at the initiative of empowering women.

She promised the project coordinator that she would lobby the central government for endless support to complement the efforts of the women in that part of the country.

“This is a unique project and I think the ministry of education should support this project with vocational training schools to make sure that adults education is really efficient,” she said, adding that she would want to admonish the project manager to continue with the good initiative and to continue to invest in the women of the district.

“Having said these words, I am so humbled to be here today and to launch this laudable venture,” she concluded.

 

Windfall for Sierra Leonean Students in Russia

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 His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed Yongowa on Tuesday addressed Sierra Leonean Students in the Russian Federation, which followed receipt of their allowances for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 Academic Years.

He used the occasion to reaffirm President Julius Maada Bio’s unflinching commitment to education, describing him as a listening leader who is always ready to answer to the calls of his citizens at any time, no matter where they may be.

“Two weeks ago, I had a virtual meeting with you and I reaffirmed the government’s commitment in ensuring that you receive your stipends and evidently this promise has now become a reality”, Ambassador Yongawo said.

He continued: “When I went to Freetown a month ago, I met with all the line Ministries and made them understand that you need this money. As the Embassy responsible for your welfare, we inherited two outstanding academic-year allowances which we have now paid”. The ambassador also reiterated that this act “demonstrates the government’s continued commitment to support Sierra Leonean students across the world”.

Ambassador Yongawo explained how he met with various Universities in Russia and appealed for more scholarships. That effort, he added, is now yielding positive dividend, as there has been an increase of 40 students who have already gained admission to different Universities for various courses.

”Times are hard right now; even the biggest economies are suffering but our government is doing its level best to meet the demands of every sector including education which is its priority,” the Ambassador maintained.

“I carry the title Ambassador but you should all also think of yourselves as Ambassadors representing Sierra Leone; your behaviour here is very significant for our image and to other students who may wish to acquire foreign education not only in the Russian Federation but all over the world”.

Sixty-two students received their allowances for the 2018-20219 Academic Year and thirty-nine for the 2019- 2020 Academy Year.

The students expressed their gratitude to President Bio and his government and Ambassador Yongawo for the prompt response, especially when the winter season is about to start in Russia.

The Students’ Union representative, Ishmael Khadri Kamara said: “We are grateful to Ambassador Yongawo and His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio for his outstanding leadership in Sierra Leone, particularly his priority on Human Capital Development. But please consider the increment in our allowances because we are committed to learn and make our nation proud.”

Ambassador Yongawo was a former Students’ Union President in Moscow, and he is highly respected by his colleague Diplomats for his extraordinary stance for the African continent and Sierra Leone in particular.

 

President Bio Launches Disaster Management Agency

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His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has launched the National Disaster Management Agency, NDMA, and expressed hope that the agency will use science, innovation and data to predict, anticipate, plan for, and report on the full disaster management cycle.

“I have already identified new technologies that can be used to great effect. I am also challenging this agency to work with the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation to develop a robust, Sierra Leone made disaster management digital system.

“I also believe that mitigation and climate change resilience must be done in close collaboration with communities. Communities must have a vested interest in and must participate in dialogues on disaster preparedness and management. Youth and women must be accorded a central role in your work. Close collaboration with local government and the private sector will be particularly useful to your work. So I expect you to develop strategies and structure well-defined and sustainable relationships,” he said.

He noted that the UN Resident Coordinator and World Bank Representative have suggested opportunities for global partnerships, adding that he expected the agency to leverage bilateral and multilateral cooperation in that area.

“Innovative partnerships with other disaster management agencies are possible. As a country, I also believe that we can identify innovative ways of funding disaster management that will be less onerous on our limited budget. I expect this agency to develop those forward-looking and effective policies and also guide the Government on how to plan investments in disaster management,” the President said.

In his welcome address earlier, Chief Minister Prof. David John Francis, credited for the establishment of the agency, said the occasion was in fulfillment of commitments in the New Direction manifesto to set up the agency and in the Medium-Term National Development Plan, with cluster 7 addressing vulnerabilities and building resilience.    

“First, the Office of National Security (ONS) has an existing Directorate for Disaster Management, so the new National Disaster Management Agency will hit the ground running because ONS will provide the institutional home for core expertise to help the operationalisation of the Agency.

“Second, we have indication of committed and enthusiastic bilateral and multilateral donors who are on standby, I understand, to support the operationalisation of the Agency,” he said.  

World Bank Country Manager, Gayle Martin, said the role of any disaster management agency was multi-disciplinary and cross-cutting in nature, adding that it was, therefore, relevant to all sectors of the economy.

“Managing disaster risk requires a high level of coordination and convening power to work across a variety of stakeholders and sectors. The NDMA, therefore, requires the authority and ability to activate, or cause to activate, national emergency measures at the time of a disaster. It is also required to convene MDAs across sectors at the highest level— both during times of emergency, as well as in disaster prevention and preparedness.

“In the roll-out of the NDMA we are supporting the government to develop two key timely activities: Firstly, the National Disaster Risk Management Policy is being updated to reflect new institutional arrangements and realities on the ground. Secondly, an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan will be developed to ensure operational procedures and standards are in place in advance of future disasters,” she said.

United Nations Resident Coordinator, Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, said the Sierra Leone office was ready to build the capacities and capabilities of the agency to rapidly and robustly respond to disasters, build skills in information management, coordination, operational readiness and response.

“The 2017 landslide response was a testimony of the strong partnership between Government and the United Nations and we look forward to continued partnerships with the National Disaster Management Agency and the Office of National Security,” he said.

Director-General of the National Disaster Management Agency, Lt. General (Rtd.) Brima Bureh Sesay, said their approach would be scientific, especially in the development of assessment tools, risk identification, analysis, indexing and interpretation, hazard mapping, vulnerability and capacity assessment, coordination, building knowledge.

“The Agency will strive towards accomplishing various targets and indicators encapsulated in the Sendai Framework agreed by the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction, ensure implementation of the African strategy for disaster risk reduction and work towards effective enforcement of the National Disaster Management Act 2020,” he assured.

 

 

Bar Association Elects New President

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By Elkass Sannoh

The newly elected Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA) President, Madam Michaela Eddinia Swallow, was born in Freetown and started her early education at the Freetown Secondary School for Girls. In pursuit of higher education, she gained admission to study Law at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone.

In 2006, she graduated with Bachelor of Laws with Honours (LL.B. Hons.). She further enrolled at the Sierra Leone Law School in 2007 where she also graduated with the Bar Final Certificate (B.L), Utter Barrister.

As a multifaceted person, she also acquired a Diploma in Mass Communications at Fourah Bay College.

Madam Swallow’s insatiable desire for quality education compelled her to gain admission into the University of East Anglia, Norwich in United Kingdom. She holds an LLM in International Business and Commercial Law with Distinction. During that time, she studied Foundations of International Commercial Law I and II, Payments and Finance in International Trade, International Oil and Gas Law, Carriage of Goods by Sea and Marine Insurance, International Competition Law and the English Legal System.

As a resourceful team player, she started her early experience at Fourah Bay College in 2005 to 2006, as the Student’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice for the Fourah Bay College Student’s Union executive.

As a razor sharp litigator, she has diligently practiced for over ten successful years until she was elected in April 2019 as a member of the General Legal Council in Sierra Leone.

Before her election victory, she was appointed member of the Sierra Leone Bar Association Fund Raising Committee in 2009 to 2010. For two successful years, she got another appointment as a member of the Sierra Leone Bar Association Social and Organizing Committee. In 2017 to 2019, Madam Swallow was also appointed Secretary to the Sierra Leone Bar Association Building Committee. These impressive leadership characteristics won the hearts and minds of her colleague lawyers who overwhelmingly voted her in July 2019 to November 2020 as the Vice President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association.

She is a Life Member of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and a staunch member of the Legal access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social Justice (L.A.W.Y.E.R.S.) since October, 2007.

The current Bar Association President has participated in many local and international research works including the World Bank’s Doing Business Reports 2019: ‘Training for Reform’ and the Legal and Regulatory Framework of Labour Laws in Sierra Leone. As a researcher with in-depth analytical skills, she had conducted many research works including the Legal Issues Arising out of Developing Oil and Gas Reserves in Developing Countries: Sierra Leone a Case Study.

Madam Michaela Swallow is a versatile multi-tasker with over thirteen (13) years of legal practice with expertise in the following areas; Company Law, Contract Review and Analysis, Legal Drafting, Negotiation, International Commercial law, Legal Writing and Research, Oil & Gas Law, Employment law, Legal Compliance, Litigation, Administration and Management.

She has won so many local and international awards such as 2017 Lawyer of the Year Award by Nexte Awards.

The SLBA elected President is a creative thinker with attention for detail and excellent communication skills which is essential for the success of the Sierra Leone Bar Association. She was elected in Kenema on Friday, 13 November, 2020 at the Albertson Hotel in Nongowa Chiefdom.

As NaCSA Hands Over School Project Document…

First Lady Boosts Ogoo Farm Community

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National Commission for Social Action (NACSA) has officially handed over project documents to the First Lady for the rehabilitation of Rural Education Committee Primary school, Completion and construction of Funkia Community Centre and other Community Projects.

This took place on 16th and 18th November 2020 at the Funkia Community Centre in Freetown. The projects are geared towards improving and increasing access to social services for the people of Western Rural District through the Community Driven Development Project (CDDP). The National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) engaged Her Excellency Madam Fatima Maada Bio to present documents of the above mentioned projects. The documents presented were for the completion of the Funkia Community centre, rehabilitation of Rural Education Committee Primary School, rehabilitation of three compartment VIP latrines at Adonkia and construction of perimeter fence at Ogoo farm.

These are projects that are exclusively funded by the Government of Sierra Leone.

The Community Driven Development Project (CDDP) is a community-based intervention, designed to respond to requests that comes from communities through community structures to the Commission, that are related to construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of community facilities.

In his remarks as chairman of the event, Dr. Philip John Kanu spoke on the resilience of the people of constituency 109 and constituency 110 and their readiness to embrace development. He said the gathering is a demonstration of readiness to rebrand their communities.  “irrespective of our differences in terms of political beliefs, we have always galvanized ourselves to support community development initiatives. We have demonstrated this before and we will always demonstrate our oneness because we are stronger together.’’ He mentioned.

The Commissioner of NaCSA, Mr Abu Bockarie Kokofele gave the breakdown of various interventions; noting that the Commission is prepared to ensure that the following assessed sub-projects are implemented within the shortest possible time. “completion of the Funkia community center, rehabilitation of Rural Education Committee Primary School at Ogoo Farm, rehabilitation of three compartment VIP latrines at Adonkia and construction of perimeter fence- at Ogoo farm. With this and on behalf of my staff and management, I now take this opportunity to present the project document to the First Lady – H.E (Mrs) Fatima Jabbie Maada Bio…’’

In her statement, the First Lady expressed her appreciation and commitment to work with the people devoid of political affiliation. ‘’The Julius Maada Bio Led government is serving this country with the utmost priority. When we develop our communities, we do it for our children and generations yet to come. I therefore urge the women of constituency 109 and 110 to be more united and embrace development. Completing an abandoned community center, rehabilitation of REC Primary School and three compartment latrines and perimeter fence to protect the football field for our youths; calls for a more community approach and commitment.’’ She emphasized.

Madam Fatima Maada Bio, further thanked the people of the Ogoo Farm community for being law-abiding, though she is sad to see a school that has been in the community for decades in such a dilapidated state “a death trap for the pupils”, she said.

Adding that H.E the President believes that education is the fundamental human right of every human being and that is why he has focused on making sure that children have access to free quality education. She further stated that the school that is going to be renovated through NaCSA has nothing to do with politic, as it is the right of the children.

The First Lady concluded by calling on community and parental support for the hands off our girls’ campaign.

 The Deputy Head Teacher of the Harrison school at Ogoo farm said the school has been in existence for over 48 years and has been in a very deplorable state for quite a long time now, adding that they are grateful for the intervention of the First Lady and Madam Josephine Jackson.

Madam Josephine Jackson assured the people of Ogoo Farm community that they have the favor of the President and the First Lady, stating that many people have come to the community in the past but never considered to assist in renovating the school, but under the dynamic leadership of H.E the President history is being made, as the leadership of president Bio believes in human capital development.

Madam Jackson assured the people that the ceremony was not just about the launching of the school project, but to hand over the community field to them, as there has been lots of insinuation and false rumors about the field being owned by the President, As she concluded by assuring the market women about their own share of the NaCSA relief fund which they will soon benefit from.

NGC Boycotts Petroleum Agreement

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 By FeimaSesay

Hon. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella leader of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) in the Sierra Leone Parliament has on Tuesday 17TH November refuse to support the concession agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone represented by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Finance and All Petroleum dealers in Sierra Leone Sierra for the rehabilitation and refurbishment of the Kissy Storage Tank Project.

Speaking on behalf of the NGC, Hon. Kandeh said in his opinion, the agreement was not a good agreement, noting that the $25 million dollars tax concession was not good for the people of this country. “This agreement is not a good one, Honorable members this is an interesting proposal but I have a number of concerns to raise, we are concern as a party, but in general Hon. Speaker we get worry now that ministers signed agreements before bringing them here for us to ratify. This year alone, we have approved several companies with a lot of concessions. I look forward to the day that Parliament will take and look at it first and tell the ministers that look before you sign these agreements bring them here first. We will not support this agreement, it is a bad agreement” he stated.

Hon. Kandeh said, Parliament should not be in rush in signing the agreement, adding that the agreement had so many loopholes to be looked at. “We should not be in rush in signing this agreement, we are talking about a critical sector that has ended and has misallocation of incentives will destroy the market and the implications for a whole economy will be reduced” he maintained.

Hon. Yumkella strongly admonished his colleagues MPs to scrutinize before approving the agreement, pointing out that he tried to Google the company if they have a foot print in the industry but he sees none. “I am sure Mr Speaker you and I will recall that while we took mission in Nigeria and we were just giving a structural adjustment by the World Bank to creditor company here in Sierra Leone those days demanding petroleum and you and I went to Nigeria on trade mission and we checked that the company has no track record, I will not name the individual that was behind it but you and I know. And when we checked we were shocked we sent people to check the offices if do they exist, are they petroleum broken they were frauds. So some authority here when I say as a former minister knowing the sector a little beat myself that we should not rush” he reiterated.

“I did not see this company as a good company, this people should not be unfair. We have supported four major Bills here, standing firm, we also have the right to critic those that are not in the interest of the people when we think it is not right. The reality also is, for the past two weeks even though I have been helping when the minister responded to quote what I said and react to my questions. For posterity sake, we have made our point and it is clear” he cautioned.

Responding to concerns raised by the NGC party, the Minister for Trade and Industry Dr. Hinga Sandi said the agreement is good, noting that he cannot sign any agreement that was not in the best interest of the people of Sierra Leone. “The concerns raised by Hon. Kandeh were very much important, the tax concession we are having is created by existing Financial Act. Tax concession  we all know are actually meant to support  industry  growth, at this point in time we have understand that instead  of giving fish to somebody, teach them how to fish. We are bringing  this development  to hub the excuse which Sierra Leoneans have been yearning  for and there for prepare them for them job that is going to come out” he  established.

MPs from SLPP, APC and C4C contributed to the debate.

However, the agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone represented by the Ministry of Trade and industry and Ministry of Finance and All petroleum operators in Sierra Leone was ratified by the House of Parliament with the exception of the National Grand Coalition (NGC).

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