''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 2

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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Sunday May 25, 2014 - Seventeen years ago this day (and on a Sunday too) evil was unleashed upon the people as beasts of no nation overthrew the democratically-elected government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. In Sierra Leone's most savage coup bands of drug-infused and alcohol fortified beasts in human form and wearing the colours of the national army attacked, without mercy those they had sworn to protect.The face of terror - an operative of the AFRC/RUF. The plaster covers a slash with a sharp object that allowed them to paste heroin or cocaine directly into the wound.

Today Sunday May 25, 2014 marks the day seventeen years ago when Sierra Leoneans in their own God-given country were made to suffer at the hands of a band of APC-inspired men wearing the colours of the national army and actually carrying arms and ammunition bought from the sweat of the people overthrew the barely one-year-old democratically-elected government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

Residents of the capital Freetown and indeed all over the country, trying to come to terms with the enormous tasks ahead in re-building lives were shocked to hear the incessant sounds of gunfire as well as explosions as that Saturday/Sunday night metamorphosed from a quiet and orderly situation to one of utter chaos and confusion. By the time dawn emerged and people were still wondering what it was all about, the streets of the capital became deprived of the usual traffic of civilians and civilian-driven motorised vehicles as vehicles both military and commandeered drove at high speeds with little or no regard to traffic rules and regulations.

On board these vehicles could be seen soldiers in fatigue greens with open tunics showing their red vests underneath, with gunfire adding a frightening dimension to the lives of Sunday church goers who were still trying to figure out just what was going on.

Many suspected another military take-over even though somehow lingering in their minds was a better judgement that no soldier in his/her proper frame of mind would dare contemplate such a move given the sacrifices made by civilians under the previous military junta of the NPRC to bring back democracy to a country that has been wracked by six years of war.

As the day wore on, with the national broadcaster playing military band music, listeners heard a rather muddled and incoherent voice telling all those who care to listen that the government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah had been overthrown and that the military was now in power.

Corporal Gborie, for that was the name he gave the people, explained the reason why the gates of the main prison along Pademba Road had been flung wide open with all the inmates allowed to walk out. Those who took the opportunity included people who could have been in custody for traffic offences, theft, larceny, armed robbery as well as other serious crimes like murder and were awaiting trial or verdicts.

They were all allowed to walk out because, according to Corporal Gborie, the new armed and murderous rapists and arsonists did not believe in the incarceration of fellow Sierra Leoneans. Ironically, it was the same set-up which later became known as the Armed Forced Revolutionary Council, the AFRC, that was to later imprison the same Gborie after he was implicated in an armed robbery somewhere in Freetown.

The May 25, 1997 coup was extremely unpopular among the majority of Sierra Leoneans and the feeling was made known to them. Within the ranks of the military, the same could be discerned as experienced officers refused to become a part in the initial stages. Alarmed and probably getting quite jittery, the new man in control who had been freed from prison, one Johnny Paul Koroma made clear what had been suspected all along - that some sections of the military had been in cahoots with the rebels of the Revolutionary Front, the RUF in making the lives of the civilian population a hell on earth. Indeed the TRC report on the May 25, 1997 coup stated -

The mastermind of the 25 May 1997 coup was Sgt Alfred Abu Sankoh (alias “Zagallo”). The coup was not detected by the officers or the military intelligence because it was planned on the 24th and executed the next day. Zagallo was a bodyguard to a former Secretary of State during the NPRC regime, and had enjoyed a lot of benefits from that association. He was also a footballer and had been associated with a number of Freetown clubs and was finally requested to set up a football club for the army. The membership of the club was to provide the nucleus of the coup plotters. Zagallo gave vent to the frustrations in the army that led to the coup.

The unnamed NPRC official mentioned in that report was none other than the one and only Reginald Glover who was the NPRC man in charge of the mines and Zagallo's association with him could have led to him grabbing, among other lucrative ministries in their "government", that of mines. It is worth noting that Glover had been sacked from the NPRC after the palace coup by Bio that ousted Strasser and as he was considered to be too close to him was thus relieved of any ministerial appointment.

It was Johnny Paul Koroma as the leader of the coup makers who invited the limb-chopping, rapists, arsonists, kidnappers, thieves and murderers to come and join them in Freetown and other places with the army posts in those areas advised to allow the RUF to share meals, arms and all things necessary, with them. The invitation extended to and accepted by the RUF whose leader Foday Sankoh was being held in a prison in Nigeria had given them the go-ahead was not only to increase the "troop strength" of the murderous usurpers, but to render Sierra Leone ungovernable.

Here's something worth recalling from the TRC report -

Later in the day there was a phone call from London to Major Johnny Paul Koroma by Omrie Goley the external spokesperson of the RUF, who said he had heard the radio broadcast calling on Sankoh to join the new government. He said that in the interest of peace he was going to make Sankoh’s phone number in Nigeria available to the coup plotters. Major Johnny Paul Koroma then called Sankoh in the presence of some of the coup leaders such as “Zagallo” and Tamba Gborie. Major Koroma told Foday Sankoh that the war was over and invited Sankoh to take over the leadership of the new government. Sankoh replied that this was impossible since he was detained in Nigeria...The invitation to the RUF was justified as necessary to end the war.

The Omrie Golley mentioned in that TRC report is the same man the rat has sent to South Korea as our representative to the people of that country. What a way to kick in the teeth all those who suffered at the hands of the AFRC/RUF.

But then read further and you are bound to agree with us that the invitation to the RUF was to swell the ranks of the coup makers as well as to make the country ungovernable as the TRC heard from one of those who came to join the army in Freetown.

“Some of us were in the bush at that time, we only heard an instruction that we are to go and join the AFRC junta; that it is because of peace that we should join them and then the UN will come in between for peace.  So that gave the passion to some of us – when the command was given, there was no time to waste.  In the space of three days, some good number of the RUF left their hiding places and came to bigger towns.  Some were sent to Bo, some were sent to Kenema, some in fact went as far as Freetown...But when we came to Freetown, after a couple of times, we saw different issues; things were looking somehow unsuitable with regards to what they had told us in the bush.  So, some of us who had far-sighted thinking started to leave from Freetown.  We said: ‘hey, this is not the peace, this is just a sort of suspended government’.”

That was not all. There were reports of clashes between the RUF and AFRC in what they had formed as the People's Army. The RUF refused to attack certain positions occupied by the Nigerian-led ECOMOG forces alone and insisted that the AFRC provide men too for such operations. They had never forgiven the the army boys, sobels when their numbers got decimated during an attack to wrest control of Lungi airport from the Nigerians.

It was reported that a huge convoy of the Peoples Army was moving from other parts of the country to beef up their troop strength in Freetown when on the way, they got orders to attack Lungi and take the vital Lungi international airport.

The Nigerian ECOMOG defenders could not believe what they saw through their binoculars.

Truckload after truckload of the Peoples Army singing and displaying their weapons as they threatened to "free" the airport from the grip of ECOMOG. The defenders prepared for the expected onslaught, moving civilians from certain villages in Lungi to the non-operational areas of their troops for their own safety. They then waited for the snaking column to get within range of their weapons.

They waited until the advancing column passed the communication towers perched high above the town - and then opened fire, starting with targeted fire on the commanders and then on the vehicles and men.

The rest as they say is history but true to pattern when they are given a real pasting by ECOMOG, it was the civilians in occupied areas like Freetown that paid the price with increased incidents of violence and murder perpetrated against them. Residents of Freetown could hear quite distinctly the thud during the firing of heavy weapons in Lungi as the defenders beat back the Peoples' Army of Johnny Paul Koroma and Foday Sankoh.

Two years ago, in 2012 we brought you this reminder and the order of things under the rat.

This was what the respected news outlet "Africa Confidential" had on its pages:

Major Johnny Paul Koroma,33, led a successful coup d'etat against the Kabbah government. Kabbah's Nigerian and Kamajor guards appear to have been surprised and the President was airlifted out to Conakry in neighbouring Guinea.

Maj. Koroma was a poorly educated soldier who had been over-promoted with the rapid army expansion of the early l990s. Fearful that he would be dismissed when the army was 'down-sized', he had already been implicated in one coup plot.

Earlier Koroma had also been involved in corrupt accumulation, including asset-stripping of the rutile mining operation. He put together a ramshackle military junta amidst widespread popular unrest against his intervention.

Dressed in a tee-shirt and baseball cap, barely articulate, he made an unprepossessing head of state. After the coup, there were days of looting by soldiers who commandeered cars and persecuted members of Tejan Kabbah's party.

Ah lest we forget, don't be surprised should you notice that the supporters of the beasts during our troubled times would again get bitten by the amnesia bug.

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The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002