''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 9 No 1

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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Sierra Leone's Vice President, one Alhaji Chief Samuel Sam-Sumana, (BSc) to give him his full titles and honours, has, in one swift move demonstrated his government's disrespect for the rule of law and laid-down procedures required in a democracy with his announcement on Monday this week that he has sacked the Director of Prisons, one Moses Showers.

His rather unusual and spectacular announcement came in the wake of reports that some thirty or so inmates of the central, some say maximum security prison at Pademba Road in Freetown had escaped the previous day, Sunday in broad daylight and in full view of the public, a number of whom had to rub their eyes a couple of times, if not more, to ensure they were not beholding things in a dream.Ernest Bai Koroma's Vice President - still living in APC one party rule horror days

Reports would seem to indicate that the Sunday jailbreak was planned and executed with the active nod and participation from prison officers on/off duty as given the set-up at the jail, it would be virtually impossible to achieve the Sunday jailbreak.

Eight officers of the Prisons Service are believed to have been arrested with at least one king-pin among the service thought to be on the run. It is believed that his capture would help throw a great light on what really happened that led to the escape of inmates variously described as "armed and dangerous", "murderers", "armed robbers" and "international drug traffickers and rapists".

The Sierra Herald would be interested to know how many drug traffickers escaped on Sunday.

The Vice President's action must have alarmed many in Sierra Leone more so for a man in whose district of Kono many reports have been emerging of violence and brutality against anyone perceived to be in opposition to the ruling APC and his turf of operations in the diamond-rich district. One would have thought that the speed with which he announced the illegal and autocratic dismissal of a top civil servant in the colours of the Director of Perison would have been the same swift response he should have given to those thugs who ravaged and savaged the headquarters of the opposition SLPP in Freetown when his boss was away!!!

But back to the point of this illegal and undemocratic action by the Vice President.

The Sierra Herald is aware of a Police Council headed by Vice President Sam Sumana and the role of that body is well laid out in the constitution.

156. (1) There shall be established a Police Council which shall consist of—

a. the Vice-President who shall be Chairman;

b. the Minister of Internal Affairs;

c. the Inspector-General of Police;

d. the Deputy Inspector-General of Police;

e. the Chairman of the Public Service Commission;

f. a member of the Sierra Leone Bar Association who shall be a legal practitioner of not less than ten years standing as a practicing Barrister, and shall be nominated by that body and appointed by the President;

g. two other members appointed by the President, subject to the approval of Parliament.

(2) Every member of the Police Council shall take and subscribe the oath as set out in the Third Schedule to this Constitution.

(3) The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry responsible for matters relating to the Police shall be Secretary to the Council.

We still have to read what part of the constitution empowers the Vice President to sack a top civil servant without recourse to laid-down procedures that would normally be initiated by the Head of the Civil Service.

Be that as it may, this high handed action of the Vice President is reminiscent of what was alleged to have taken place the day after the shooting incident at Waterloo Street in Freetown which in the end led to the trial on treason charges of President Momoh's Vice President Francis Mischek Minah, the Kaikais as well as Conrad Iniss who were all hanged by the government after classic APC doctored trials.

APC party officials reporting on Vice President Minah's first visit to the Waterloo Street residence of the alleged coup plotters is reported to have remarked "Dis nar for finish dem wan tem" implying that those already arrested must be given a swift trial and hanged from the nearest beam as soon as was practicable.

The APC machinery saw this as a means of not getting to the bottom of the investigations and increased already planted innuendoes that the Vice President could have known about the alleged coup plot so that a swift conclusion of the matter would see him absolved of any suspicion!!!

That was the APC party line then and we await a denial.

And so in the case of Vice President Sam Sumana - the Sierra Herald would want a separate inquiry into his action even as a panel is set up to investigate the circumstances leading to the jail break with a view to, not only bringing to book those involved, but why this trusted arm of governance would have its very own officers become a part of such an act that shames all of them.

This inquiry should not be limited to the jailbreak only but must take a look at the entire prison administration and structure which has seen officers and serving men and women reduced to bribe-taking and the foraging for turfs that would earn the extra leone to keep body and soul together.

This was a government set-up that boasted of training areas in fields such as carpentry and joinery as well as bakery to train inmates for a crime-free life after serving sentences.

This inquiry should not be seen as a witch hunt but rather as an exploratory device aimed at improving the lives and living conditions of the prison officials as well as those in their care.


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©Sierra Herald 2002