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Ponder My Thoughts with Andrew Keili | The Judiciary: "As It Was In The Beginning"

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'Election petition verdict: 'The law is an ass,'I wrote an article in this column in 2013 with this title, in response to the verdict on the now famous Ansu Lansana case. I took this as a personal issue. I know the characters involved, I have seen what that decision has wrought and have experienced what happens to a constituency and the democratic process when some distant party subverts the will of the people without consulting them. I am certain therefore I can be excused for verging on the ad hominem as it is only by doing so that the effect can be made vivid to the reader.


I am a relation of all the major parties involved at the local level in constituency 5 in the Kailahun District. The SLPP candidate, Ansu Lansana, and the petitioner Sam May Macarthy are cousins with whom I am intimately acquainted. The lucky APC candidate, Regina Songa Marrah, who was foisted on our constituency is also a close relative. The constituents were stunned, and up to this day could not u…

Christian Lawyers issue Statement on Rising Attacks Against Women in Sierra Leone

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Christian Lawyers Centre (known as Legal Link) is perturbed by the volume of verbal attacks on Basita Michaels Esq, the President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, for simply expressing her candid opinion on how sustainable peace and national cohesion can be achieved during the Bintumani III Conference.
As an organisation that defends the rights of Human Rights Defenders in Sierra Leone, we take the greatest exception to this unsavoury behaviour in a democratic society.

We have taken pains to listen to and critically analyse the statement of Basita Michaels at the Peace and National Cohesion Conference ( Bintumani III) for which she is being vilified.

It is our candid opinion that her statements were not only factually correct but were also said in good faith and at the right platform whose primary objective was to seek for solutions that will foster lasting peace and social cohesion in the state.

As a matter of fact, the ECOWAS Representative and the Representatives from Kenya and…

It's Africa Day 2019 | Give Her a Break

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Almost six months after Sierra Leone’s first lady launched  “Hands Off Our Girls“ (a spin-off campaign from the Bring Back Our Girls movement), Fatima Bio has taken some flak. 

Fatima (seen standing with former first lady Sia Koroma in an undated photo) hasn't been out of the news since she led a controversial event on April 27, 2019, in a noticeably empty stadium in the capital, Freetown.

A few days later she shared her thoughts on WhatsApp, hoping to silence the critics with revelations about rival factions at State House and Presidential aides who are living the life of Royalty, while poor Sierra Leoneans eke out an existence on $1.20 a day.  

When that social media PR  didn't do the trick, Fatima put out a video to hex her husband's enemies, real or imagined. Needless to say, all bets were off!

Now, every other day there are videos from local comedians, which in all honesty send up some of the first lady's worst pronouncements in the most hilarious way. There are also…

Ponder My Thoughts with Andrew Keili

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Andrew Kelli's syndicated column, "Ponder My Thoughts" returns with the challenge of Sierra Leonean cohesion, the capacity of Sierra Leonean society, and conflict management.

Our leaders were divided on the eve of independence in 1961. Since then, every change in government has been accompanied by accusations by the new government that it inherited a broken country and economy.

President Kabbah accused the NPRC of emptying the country’s coffers. President Koroma levied the same accusation against President Kabbah’s government. Enter President Bio-ditto.

Accusations apart, what has become apparent over the past 11 years has been the division of the country along party lines and the government sharing the spoils to party supporters in a country where parties are roughly aligned along regional and tribal lines. The winning party would kick most heads of institutions out and in some cases, clear out whole institutions of senior staff and install their own supporters. The res…

Confused about the sign on your property in Sierra Leone? Here’s what you need to know

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Excerpt from social media commentary by Chukwuemeka Taylor: 
Dr. Sandy can lawfully through the office of the Director of Surveys and Lands put signs or notices on any land he considers to be unoccupied land. This notice is simply an expression of the Government's intention to repossess land deemed "unoccupied ".

The Minister’s mistake is in the "mongrel wording" of the notices on signs he erects all over the place. The wording on such signs departs from the statutory prescription provided in the Unoccupied Lands Act and the State Lands Act.

There is no statutory authority for the notice to read " repossessed by the State ".

The notice being erected on private lands by Dr. Sandy is my opinion, mischievous and is calculated to mislead. Dr. Sandy Ph.D. ought to know that repossession of any land cannot be fulfilled without an Order of the Court.

It surprises me that the Learned Attorney General & Minister of Justice has not made her knowledge of the corr…

How ECOWAS ranked in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index

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Thanks to a change of government, The Gambia achieved one of the biggest rises in the World Press Freedom Index in 2018. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF),  which has published the  Index since 2002, the level of press freedom in the smallest country in West Africa has significantly improved, up 30 to 92nd. The RSF is the largest non-governmental organization (NGO) specializing in the defense of media freedom around the world. Here's how member countries in the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) ranked out of 180 countries in 2019.


Ghana 27 Burkina Faso  36 Senegal 49 Niger 66 Cote D'Ivoire 71 Togo 76 Sierra Leone 86 Guinea Bissau 89 Gambia 92  (***Up 30 at 92nd) Liberia 93 Benin 96 Ghana  Guinea 107 Mali 112 Gabon 115 Nigeria 120 Morocco/Western Sahara 135
Source: World Press Freedom Index 2019

Sierra Leoneans concerned about empty seats in the national stadium on Independence Day

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Sierra Leone marks its 58th Independence Anniversary today. The national day celebrated on April 27 commemorates the restoration of  Sierra Leone's sovereignty in 1961 from the Britsh empire. Unfortunately, empty seats photographed on Saturday, April 27 at the national stadium in the capital city of Freetown has raised eyebrows. The stadium has a 36,000 capacity and pulls large crowds during football games.














Nonstop sand mining is destroying Freetown’s eco-tourism

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It's not the first time photos have circulated on social media of what has been described as '24-hour, seven-days-a-week operations to carry hundreds of tonnes of sand from Freetown's beaches and sell it to builders as construction material.'

The Earth Day 2019 photos from intrepid Sierra Leonean photojournalist Issam capture how free-for-all sand mining is destroying Freetown’s eco-tourism opportunities.

For years, local and international reports have shown round-the-clock sand-mining on beaches within a few miles of Sierra Leone’s capital is having a devastating effect on the coastline, and destroying property.

Without permits, hundreds of trucks attack the beaches on a daily basis, hiring local boys as daily laborers to destroy their own communities.

Reports say that not much is being done to control the increasing demand for sand to make concrete blocks.



Lara Taylor-Pearce: An Independent Auditor

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Lara Taylor-Pearce, Sierra Leone's auditor general, was on Radio Democracy 98.1 FM this week to dispute the missing $1 Billion said to have been stolen under the Ernest Bai Koroma administration. The fantastic amount quoted by Finance Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa and Financial Secretary Sahr Jusu was announced to create a false impression, one newspaper said.

Almost two weeks ago, Bloomberg's Silas Gbandia reported finance minister J.J.Saffa said on Star Television that  Sierra Leone Public Finance Audit Shows $1 Billion Missing. According to Gbandia, Saffa pledged that the government will recover the funds by June, without specifying how it plans to do so.

The report also said that President Julius Maada Bio commissioned the audit into public spending from 2015 to 2018 after his election last year. Sierra Leone's economy measured $3.7 billion in 2017.

Numerous news outlets including Sierra Express Media and Cocorioko have reported on the radio interview given by Sierra Leon…

Fragile States Index 2019: How did Sierra Leone rank?

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'Who's Up? Who's down?' No doubt, the most secure places in the world are rich, western nations. They include Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Sweden, where life is generally stable. You don't need data and an index to know the most fragile countries are wracked by conflict: Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Central African Republic, Sudan, and Chad.

In the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), many of the 15 members dominate the subset of most fragile states, according to the index. Yet there is a glimmer of hope.

Ghana, Benin, and Senegal are where others in the region would like to be. For context, Ghana is the most secure place in West Africa, while Guinea, Sierra Leone's neighbor, is one of the most fragile. Here's how ECOWAS, with all its resource riches, stacked up. Or down.

Guinea 11
Nigeria 14
Niger 18
Guinea Bissau 19
Mali 21
Cote d'Ivoire 29
Liberia 30
Togo 38
Sierra Leone 39
Burkina F…

Violence: the New Normal for Fourah Bay College Clubs, Fraternities and Sororities

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Alhassan Jalloh, a former student at Fourah Bay College (FBC), graduated in the 1990s. Comparing the level of violence on campus now to his time at FBC, he said it is a "totally new phenomenon." Club initiations were "a bit physical but not in this kind of way,” he said. Alhassan, whose cousin fell victim to (violent hazing) said that when visited his old club during a trip from the United States, he found things were different from the way it used to be. He blamed the present scenario on post-war mentality.

Dr. Edward Nahim, the only Sierra Leonean psychiatrist for years, defined violence as: “infliction of physical or psychological harm on an individual for him or her to feel severe pain or discomfort.”

He said that though student violence is not new, the war and (mind-altering) drugs have accelerated the rates of violence among students. He pointed out that the main reason for students embarking on violence is drug abuse.

“I spoke a lot about drug abuse at the unive…

World Happiness Report: Sierra Leone ranks 129th

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This week the United Nations published findings of its survey examining world happiness. This is the 7th World Happiness Report. The first was released in April 2012. Almost all the top-ranked countries from 2016-2018 were oil-rich states and countries in Western Europe, North America, and East Asia. There were also countries in  Central America and the Caribbean. 

The survey shows that African countries are struggling with happiness. Here's how member states in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ranked in descending order:

Nigeria 85
Ghana 98
Ivory Coast 99
Benin 102
Senegal 111
Niger 114
Burkina Faso 115
Guinea 118
Gambia 120
Mali 128
Sierra Leone 129
Togo  139
Liberia 141

***The World Happiness Report is a survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. This year’s World Happiness Report focuses on happiness and the community: how happiness has evolved over the past dozen years, with a focu…

Sierra Leone's Energy Situation, with John Baimba Sesay

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Energy experts say most parts of Sierra Leone still have no access to a grid. Distribution lines were destroyed during the civil war, and old equipment still in place need to be replaced. With poor energy efficiency, the existing network is considered "very old" and there are immense power losses in the generation, transmission, and distribution. Many companies are forced to rely on diesel generators.
New commentary by John Baimba Sesay, a former press officer in the Ernest Koroma administration, provides new insights for this timeline of Sierra Leone's energy situation as it unfolded 2007-2018.


2007

"Freetown was a dark city, with electricity supply to the city being at 5MW. But then, the government engaged the services of an independent power provider, as a short term emergency measure, to provide electricity to Freetown...There also was the rehabilitation of the Bo/Kenema Power Station thermal plants eventually expanding power generation from 2 to 5 MW. The coun…

British Court finds African Minerals Ltd not liable for Sierra Leone Police Brutality

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"African Minerals Ltd (AML), created the infrastructure to mine and transport iron ore in Sierra Leone, leading to significant local unrest," writes Stephanie Hawes in Lexology's "Mining company not liable for acts of police," published March 5. However, "the court held AML was not liable to the claimant local residents for the acts of brutality towards them by the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) who were attempting to restore law and order."

Hawes, a lawyer at Allen & Overy, says the Kadie K. vs. African Minerals Ltd & others case is "an interesting case for companies, in the extractive industry sector, concerned about their exposure to human-rights-related risk including in relation to the acts of security forces."  Read on.  

This case deals with several key tortious principles relating to acts of third parties and will be of particular interest to companies in the extractive industries monitoring their exposure to human-rights-related ri…