''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol XI No 9

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Commissioners, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen I would like to start the topic from the background knowledge that all the nations of the world made mistake at one time or the other in the past. No nation is free of that charge and I strongly believe that a developing nation in contemporary times would commit mistakes and cause many socio-cultural disasters to happen. I will advocate that sleeping dogs be let alone. My reason would unfold as I advance my argument but foremost in my catalog of events is the fact that things are changing fast these days, changes in attitude, relationships, indeed generally society changes.

Many trends have also traumatized our people, especially this senseless war. We should endeavour to foster the exhilaration of this trend. But in order to address this trend we need to go back into history, to where it started.

I would say the main crux of the destructive force in the country that led to the civil war and everything that we are experiencing today was the breakdown of discipline in the army and the police. The army lost sight of their traditional role of protecting the sovereignty of the state when called upon and got involved in political activities which derailed it completely. Politics went into the army, the politicians took it to the army and there by destroyed the norms and traditions that held the army together throughout the colonial era and the period before 1964.

The marriage between the police and the army and politics was a destabilizing factor that led to the erosion of order and discipline in these institutions. It also led to the castration of the officer core which was the mainstay of the army from which discipline percolated down to the rank and file. This action of the politicians destroyed the officer corps; promotions were no longer meritorious, you have to belong to the dominant political grouping. The wrong people were elevated, they got positions as a result of tribalism, others suffered as a result of this, some lost their lives and a good number of men were kicked out of the army thus depriving the army of the power in the officer-corps that kept it going. The Army and the Police were brought into politics in 1965/1966 when Brigadier Lansana and the Commissioner of Police were invited to a political party meeting. They became more and more interested in political activities than the administration of the army. They put officers in positions they did not merit and in the process marginalize more senior officers who were not in their political good books. The treatment of Colonel Ambrose Ganda in 1966 was a case in point. He was the most Senior Officer in the absence of Colonel Bangura who was abroad doing a course. Brigadier Lansana was to attend a meeting of the OAU Defence Commission in Ghana as battalion Colonel Ganda should act as army commander in the Brigadier’s absence. The latter however did not appoint the colonel to this position and instead chose an officer (major) junior in rank to the colonel. This major was a
British officer who was not even a combatant officer. Colonel Ganda rightly complained about this. But he was cashiered out of the army as a result and given a diplomatic post in Britain.

Politics got so deep into the army that Lieutenant Colonel Ganda and myself were branded as APC supporters. Colonel Ganda was a soft spoken gentleman, he was very respected, he was interested in a children programme titled ”Uncle Ambrose” in which he was presenting forest animals like snakes, monkeys, chameleon. He was very popular in the army and that did not go down with Lansana because popularity bothered him. The next thing was that Colonel Ganda came from Moyamba, he was very close to Sir Albert and Madam Ella Koblo Gulama. I think that created a state of panic in the army.
I was sent to Daru under a foreign commander with a letter that associated me with politicians. I never knew about this. I went there to do my work. In the end the commander found out my character was at variance with what the letter said about me.

Then he produced a letter to confirm what he said to me. This letter was written by Brigadier Lansana accusing me of being a
politician, of associating with politicians and that I should be sent to Pademba Road. I asked the Commander if I could get a copy of the letter he said no, he would not go that far, that he has already done enough to show me the letter, that giving me a copy would be too much. I dropped the issue. About six months later he recommended that I was over due for promotion and that I was wasting over there. I was transferred to Freetown and appointed as Adjutant of the military academy. It was while I was there that I became aware of the trend politics had taken in the army because politics was moving at a break neck speed. Political Parties was trying to get voting.

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