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‘I apologise because of the prevailing circumstances’

Social Worker testifies...

September 13, 2019

By Jariatu S. Bangura

Senior Social Services Officer at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gbangay Kanu, has testified at the Justice Bankole Thompson Commission of Inquiry that he had to apologise to the then Minister (Dr. Sylvia Blyden)  due to the prevailing circumstances under which he was.

“I was never aware of the press conference that children were supposed to hold at the ministry. I had to apologise to the then minister because of the prevailing circumstances I was in. I was mentally and psychologically distressed, so I had no option but to tender my apology because I want my phone back. I had to apologise also because of the audio played by the then minister wherein children were chanting ‘tomorrow we dea go nar di jungle,” he testified.

He confirmed to the tribunal that he did recall an incident that took place at the Ministry of Social Welfare in December, 2016, adding that at the time of the incident, the Directorate of Social Welfare that is in charge of Religious Affairs and other functions received instructions from the then minister, Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden, to register potential beneficiaries of the sacrificial meat for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

He said on the 28th December, 2016, they were on the verge of registering the organizations that would benefit the said meat, adding that he had a loud screaming, which triggered his attention and upon curiosity, he had wanted to know what the sound was about and where it was exactly coming from.

He said he went out of his office where he saw a grey land Cruiser registered SEA, but could not tell the exact number plate, adding that he also saw some grown up men putting on mufflers with others putting on mask on their faces in the said vehicle.

“They instantly deployed themselves in strategic locations within the precinct of the ministry of Works building. I was wondering what was their intentions and  within that interval, I saw one of the men who had deployed within the Ministry of Works building and New England Lorry park holding onto a girl child and asking her ‘watin u cam do nar yah, Dem nor don tell u say, u nor for cam nar yah so?’ As the questions went on, it was followed by slapping, kicking and roughing,” he explained.

Kanu continued that the thugs accompanied the girl child to the axis of the Ministry of Works building and the New England Lorry park, but could not tell what happened thereafter.

He said the same guys returned to the initial location but what triggered his emotion was when he saw the same thugs holding onto a boy questioning and beating him mercilessly.

“Impossibly and emotionally, I placed myself in a strategic location for me not to be seen, took my phone and then took some snapshot of the incident. I successfully took two snap shots, one of the guys saw me when I was about to take the third shot and his attention was diverted to me. Hell was loosed, a barrage of questions were asked in krio ‘ u dea snap we, u dea snap we, we dea go to Minister’. That attracted the other huge built and badly dressed men who I will refer to in my estimation as thugs,” he stated.

He further stated that all the men approached him but that he denied taking some snap shots. He said the men pushed and requested for his mobile phone but that  he refused to give them and was later taken to the then Minister’s office (Dr. Blyden).

He said the minister did come out of her office and was told that he did take some snap shots of the incident, adding that the then minister requested for his phone but he declined until the intervention of his immediate boss.

He told the tribunal that the then minister asked him to go with her in her office and questioned him if he did not see a post in their MSWGCA WhatsApp official forum wherein children had flouted her orders and misbehaved.

He said the minister questioned him again if he never knew that when WhatsApp messages are sent out the sender would be able to know that the recipient had received the message which he did responded in the affirmative.

 He said the then minister went into her phone and played an audio of the some children chanting in krio ‘tomorrow we dea go nar jungle, we dea gbale dea’  and she reiterated that  such would not happen under her watch for the children that have misbehaved would have to come to the ministry and hold any Press conference.

He said the then minister questioned if  his phone had a recycling bin but he did replied that he did  not know and was then asked by the then minister to leave her office without his phone.

However, Kanu stated that after some thirty minutes, the then minister requested for his presence at her office where she told him that she had received information that he had been one of the staff that was undermining her administration, but that she had nothing against him because he had been a diligent person hence they should turned to a new page.

He said the then Minister returned his phone and then left but only to notice outside her office that all the photos he took have been deleted.

He said thereafter he made a statement to the police station.

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