June 4, 2018
By Jariatu S. Bangura
Erstwhile Minister of Information and Communications and current Member of Parliament representing the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) has slammed his party and former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma for failing to repeal Part V of the Public Order Act of 1965, after ten years in power.
Mohamed Bangura, representing Constituency 66 in the newly created Karena district in the North West region of Sierra Leone, also charged President Koroma’s predecessor, late President Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) for turning deaf ears to the repeal the libel law.
While contributing to the debate on the maiden speech of President Julius Maada Bio during the State Opening of Parliament, Hon. Bangura acknowledged that successive governments had promised to repeal that section of the Public Order Act of 1965 but have all failed to deliver on their promises.
In 2007, then opposition leader Ernest Bai Koroma pledged to expunge the obsolete and obnoxious law as part of his campaign promises but reneged on his promise.
His successor, President Bio made a similar promise and has reiterated his desire to repeal that part of the Public Order Act within the first 100 days of the administration.
Bangura said: “President Bio has promised in his speech that he will repeal the Seditious Libel Law, but one thing I can say here, successive governments have promised to repeal it but failed. The recent leader was President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who promised to repeal it but failed to honour his promise. I am calling upon this government to keep its promise. Please, in six month time find ways to repeal it.”
Hon. Bangura, who had a brief stint as a journalist and was incarcerated under the law, pleaded with President Bio to repeal that part of the ‘obnoxious Act’ to enable the media carry out their work effectively.
The erstwhile Information Minister and Adviser to the President in the last APC government, also commended his former boss for peacefully handing over power to the new administration and establishing the Legal Aid Board, which he said has helped the poor access free legal service.
He added that the reform of the justice sector, refurbishment of the airport and massive ongoing expansion at the Queen Elizabeth II quay, among others, are some of the successes of the APC government which should be applauded.
On his part, Hon. Musa Fofanah of the Coalition For Change, representing Constituency 23 in the diamond-rich district of Kono, urged his colleagues to debate objectively.
Hon. Fofana remarked that lack of adequate water has been a perennial problem in the country, adding that after the civil war dams were constructed in Kabala, Magburaka, Koidu City, Yoni Bana, Yele, and Bo among other towns, but the projects were neglected by successive governments.
He said the previous government failed to rehabilitate the dams and instead focused on the construction of new bore holes, which he claimed were not effective.
“Water problem is not only affecting Freetown but all the districts. The contractors hired by SALWACO are all fake and could not perform their work effectively as mandated,” he said.
Paramount Chief Member of Parliament, PC Sahr Kontanday Youngai Mbriwa of Kono district, commended President Bio’s ‘thorough’ speech as it highlighted the roadmap for successes and challenges he inherited.
He said Sierra Leoneans should be happy that education has been placed at the forefront of President Bio’s agenda.
“Education has to do with human resource assets. It helps the country to conquer ignorance and it is liberating the country’s image. The president has made effort to break the barrier of child marriage by improving the educational sector,” he said.
He urged President Bio to state clearly what policy he envisages for MPs, Local Councils Chairmen, and Paramount Chiefs on their obligations as stakeholders in promoting education.
Meanwhile, the traditional ruler added: “Teenage pregnancy should be a major concern if education should succeed. The Child Rights Act 2007 makes provision for penalty against perpetrators who abuse the girl child.”
He urged President Bio to consider constructing the Seigbema-Kono and Koidu City-Guinea roads as they link districts in eastern Sierra Leone with neighbor Guinea.