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

April 19, 2009

S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 7 No 4

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


It was the late Chief Hinga Norman, who as Deputy Defence minister in the Tejan Kabbah set-up who confided to a group of journalists - "The greatest threat to the security of Sierra Leone is not from the outside, but from an army which lacks discipline".

What he had noticed at the time he did not say, but it was clear to many civilians that what passed for a national army was a cabal of self-seeking, desperate money-making goons who thought nothing of murdering civilians and fellow soldiers in any enterprise they believed would offer wealth.

Pay masters at the time knew the risks they were taking when they dared to get near the front lines to pay out troop wages and no foolhardy paymaster would dare question the number of men on the payroll!!!

Those who visited the frontline spoke of soldiers disobeying their superior officers who had learnt that to get on the wrong side of a subordinate would be death from the barrel of the same gun issued from the national armoury.

So after the war and the international community thought it fit to honour the Tejan Kabbah call for help in training a professional army, hopes were lifted that the country would at last begin to have the kind of men and women in uniform any country worth its name could be proud of. And now it would seem, all the gains made so far is on the reverse - thanks to the machinations of a Defence minister whose sole interest it appears, is to have an army that is a part and parcel of a political party.

When the Sierra Herald heard reports of the army singing that odious so-called APC "Victory" song, we condemned it straightaway stating that it was not the business of men and women in uniform to pay homage to any political party. And when Siaka Stevens' creation the ISU, renamed a number of times were reported to have actually waved APC flags and joined in the celebrations, if not looting of the opposition offices, one could easily see the dark clouds on the horizon.

The latest display by the military at a mere party convention speaks volumes about the present set-up which is posing as a government.

The Sierra Herald would again like to remind Ernest Bai Koroma and his Defence minister about the lessons of getting the national army to be partisan. There's always a price to be paid - from the David Lansana Martial Law of 1967 to the Johnny Paul debacle - lessons ought to be learnt about the role of the army in a democratic society.

Some critics say the APC still finds it difficult to appreciate the concept of a multi-party state having relied on the obnoxious one-party constitution to stifle all opposition real or imagined.

Again to this we say nonsense for many of the functionaries had had a taste of what democracy is all about from their sojourn in foreign lands like the United States and the United Kingdom to name just two.

We leave you with the testimony of the late Major Abu Noah at the TRC - the Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Bishop Joseph Christian Humper former head of the United Methodist Church.

Major Abu Noah's testimony 1

Major Abu Noah's testimony 2

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The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002