Your Excellency Sir,
It is my pleasure to do you another piece in this column, which issues I believe are either read by you or brought to your notice. In this edition I will discuss the issues of your ongoing Roads Construction/Network, Police Brutality with Impunity and the Kingho-Transcend Anomaly.
Sir, may I commence by continuing to express my profound thanks, on behalf of all Sierra Leoneans and foreigners alike, for such immense road constructions going on right across all the nooks and crannies of the entire districts of the country, which are greatly facilitating easier and comfortable movement of both people and commodities, thus endearing a good economic atmosphere. Bravo H.E. for such unwavering stride. This is a sure legacy your good self will leave as an indelible contribution to the development of this country (among others). God bless you for that. Furthermore, it seems the very sluggish CSE & FIMET Construction companies are now being monitored to step up the pace of their delivery.
I would however like to appeal that the Bo-Liberia and Kono roads projects be expeditiously pursued by awarding them to companies that could deliver quality roads in reasonable and tagged time.
Next, I would like to comment on what I, as a human right advocate, would refer to as Police Brutality with Impunity. You may recall that in some of my past editions, (which I have been also obliged to send to some credible international human rights and democratic institutions/actors) I have drawn your attention to the systematic abuse of civilians by armed State Police personnel spanning especially from 2009 to 2014. How can we morally justify the fact that some Police officers that are supposed to be protecting human lives and properties have at several occasions brutalized, shot and killed many unarmed and disaffected civilians during personal or mass demonstrations because they felt their rights and/or privileges were being trampled upon by certain individuals or authorities? And what is even appalling is that all of the incidences have either been shabbily investigated or just swept under the carpet of time, while the case of a Police officer that was allegedly murdered by his wife is being consistently and vigorously pursued to date.
As much as I wholeheartedly support the prosecution of any persons alleged to have trampled upon the right(s) of another person, to a legal conclusion, I think it is very much of a bully and extremely abusive for some armed Police officers to have shot and killed armless civilians/tax payers, (who they are constitutionally supposed to protect,) without any proper independent investigations and findings accepted by the Police and government, or alternative findings presented by them. Whereas the case of just one Police officer allegedly murdered by his clashing and agitated wife seems to mean so much; as everybody’s case needs to be actually pursed by due process without disparity and regard to persons.
Or are the Police and/or government trying to force us to believe and accept that they and some selected few are more equal than others? Therefore without belabouring a point that I think is clear, may I again ask that both the cases of the alleged murdered Police officer and those civilians who were allegedly killed by armed Police personnel be equally pursued before the laws of this land without selective justice.
Finally, I have been following with keen interest the “case” and unreasonable struggle between the government and a certain Chinese investment called TRANSCEND – (the latter being locally managed by a Sierra Leonean); with the government apparently acting on behalf of, or should I say for another Chinese investment called KINGHO.
From my findings the ensuing seems to be the summary of a long drawn saga and fight. TRANSCEND claims (from documents) to have been duly given mining license by government to legally operate in Massumbiri, Tonkolili District. After which they have engaged in mining activities and several corporate/developmental projects in that community, to the extent that most of the community people and elected representatives appreciate their kind of work and developmental ventures especially, even to date. It also works in some parts of South-Eastern Sierra Leone.
KINGHO on the other hand is said to be a huge Chinese multi-national conglomerate that wields great support from both the Chinese and Sierra Leone governments with currently fourteen (14) Mining Licenses nationwide. It also works in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone and sources also reveal that they also used their government connection and influence to acquire some licenses in that region which were originally owned by other smaller companies. And from my findings, though purported to be huge, does not seem to be much engaged in popular developmental activities in its areas of operations. In fact, very disturbing is that, the common people in all its areas of operations seem to be averse to its domineering and alleged exploitative activities.
At the beginning of this year, TRANSCENDS’s mining license in Tonkolili is said to have been unfairly revoked and its operational area given to KINGHO. And this is against the backdrop that TRANSCEND had undertaken huge infrastructural investments and other corporate developmental activities in the Massumbiri area. Furthermore, the government or KINGHO does not seem to be disposed to compensating TRANSCEND, but rather have just torpedoed and forcefully evacuated TRANSCEND from that place in spite of several considerate concessions TRANSCEND seems to have made during consultations with Parliament and other relevant actors. Is this not a case of blatant bullying of upcoming smaller businesses by huge, but community unfriendly investors? Where do such actions leave the people’s will and the inclusion of the Local Content Policy in the Agenda for Prosperity, as it realistically and practically bothers on the common tax payers and their communities interests? And I can assure you that there are a handful of such appalling sagas in our investment domain especially.
Sir, as a well meaning Sierra Leonean, clergyman and human rights advocate, I plead with you to use your executive and good offices to look into these issues I am objectively raising for the good of our beloved country, in order to ensure a peaceful business/investment atmosphere, devoid of unhealthy competition and monopolization of the business landscape by any investor(s), regardless of who they are and their influence.
Finally, that a system of victimization, selective justice, breakdown of the rule of law and arbitrariness that preceded our recently concluded civil//rebel war is not allowed to prevail again in our society; as this would rather retard than move us to the popular prosperity you are envisioning for us all.
Praying and counting on your patriotic action for the national good. LAND THAT WE LOVE OUR SIERRA LEONE.
Rev. Dr. Abraham J. Williams (Clergyman/Human Rights Advocate)
Tel: (+232) 76 994 152 / (+232) 33 563 721 / (+232) 44 352 021