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MoD reacts to WIA benefit saga

March 3, 2016  By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

The Director of Public Relations and Information at the Ministry of Defense (MoD) yesterdayreacted to claims made by some wounded in-action (WIA) demobilised soldiers of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces, which was published as lead story in our March 2, 2016 edition, headlined: “WIA soldiers threaten mayhem…over payment of benefits.”

The aggrieved WIA soldiers staged a protest in front of MoD headquarters at Tower Hill, Freetown, on Tuesday, demanding to see documents and details of payment of their terminal benefits.

Speaking to Concord Times at MoD headquarters, Colonel Usman Turay said the 273 WIA soldiers who staged the protest on Tuesday were the first to have been terminated from the army with full benefits paid.

He said a total of 721 wounded-in–action men were demobilised from the army based on their medical status, adding that they were divided into two batches for payment of benefits.

He said after paying terminal benefits to the first batch, Parliament subsequently directed that an enhanced pension payment be made available to WIA ex-servicemen.

Col. Turay said the men took advantage of this to request for more benefits, adding that a meeting was consequently convened at State House, where WIA chairman Mohamed Musa pleaded with President Koroma for the provision of medical facility and scholarship for children of all WIA soldiers.

He said the president requested Chief of Defense Staff Lt. Gen. Samuel Omar Williams to put together a payment document for the men, adding that the military did as directed and presented the document to the president for his signature.

He said the document has since been sent to the Finance Ministry, but insisted that they could not avail a copy of the document to the aggrieved WIA until it is approved.

However, Colonel Turay did not disclose the quantum of money requested as further payment to the aggrieved men.

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