July 21, 2016 By: Winstanley R. Bankole-Johnson
We have this typical Sierra Leonean mentality of deliberately refusing to quantify the financial impacts of various government operations so as to guide us against repetitions and also enable the government identify and achieve substantial costs savings where necessary. So we appear to have been condemned to endless workshops and seminars by MDAs, geared more towards distracting sensible minds from the real issues at hand than to steer new directional paths for our national development.
The matter of the abducted 200 children from various locations country wide (but more particularly from Northern Sierra Leone)allegedly “trafficked” mainly to western European nations has been long drawn, and elicited the attention of virtually all meaningful CSOs and law enforcement agencies in this country, though to no avail. The attendant costs of all such investigations though prohibitive, remains “unquantified” to date and occasioning in a massive deficit of resources that could otherwise have been directed to other social sectors equally begging for attention. Rather it would appear instead that those who are supposed to bear the greatest responsibility for such shameful and sordid acts of trafficking their own compatriots are being treated with kid gloves and allowed to progressively mount the social ladder, leaving the aggrieved families marginalized, and wallowing in abject poverty as they continue to moan the unexplained and almost mysterious disappearances of their children since 1998.
One thing continues to hold me spellbound on this matter to this day because it defies logic and civilization: That a matter of such serious national shame has been allowed to drag on unresolved this long, having regard to all the international protocols this country is a signatory to. On the fringes of any explanations to that can be added the seeming trivialization of the matter by the very traditional authorities of the localities from where the children were abducted, a few of whom pride themselves in prefixing their names with the title of “Honourable”.
For years now doggedness of the conspirators and initiators of this felony, Hon. Dr. Raymond Kargbo; Help A Needy Child International (HANCI) and others to thwart justice have been equally doggedly matched by the resoluteness of the aggrieved poor family members to access it unpolluted – from wherever.
But as the adage goes, “Truth pressed to the earth shall rise again”. So the hitherto consistent defenses of Hon. Dr. Kargbo and others affirmed in Court evidence that (1) the children were NEVER trafficked but adopted because they were orphans and (2) no payments were received for or on behalf of any would now appear to have been roundly debunked with the return home on holidays of Adama Kamara, one of the alleged victims that flew over the cuckoo’s nest. But were there not 200? Where are the 199??
In several of her reconciliation meetings with family members and the Press, Adama Kamara has confirmed the public’s greatest fears, that yes, they were “trafficked” and for fees in excess of US$17,000 (Seventeen thousand United States Dollars) per child, in addition to having been subjected to extensive abuses and maltreatment whilst they were in the Processing Centers.
Her words against theirs (Hon. Dr. Kargo’s and HANCI’s), for which you’d be tempted to quickly again close the matter. But new twists to the saga have emerged. (1) Adama Kamara is not an orphan. (2) The Notarised Death Certificate of her parents tendered in Court was a fakery, and I suppose that obtains for many more of the abducted children, which by extension means that Dr. Raymond Kargbo; HANCI and other accomplices had perjured under oaths. (3) Neither the children; nor their real parents had any clue they were being traded.
Adama Kamara’s return could be a blessing for the aggrieved families of the other abducted children whose whereabouts are still unknown. So could Adama provide the missing clues? Hmmmmmm!!!
Thankfully, this long drawn 200 abducted children issue has again been resurrected, six years after their families flagged it for public attention in 2010, andthis time for the appropriate sublime attention of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who has affirmed, quoting him “the closeness of this serious matter to his heart………..which he is studying with a view to pressing fresh charges” – unquote. The inference in that statement from the Attorney General and Minister of Justice is that a prima-facie case against Hon. Dr. Raymond Kargbo and others exist.
What an equally fresh opportunity for the government both to clear itself of any accusation of complicity with the “Traffickers” on the matter and to finally lay this whole sordid episode to eternal rest.The outcome of those proceedings contemplated by the learned Attorney General and Minister of Justice will clear all doubts concerning the entire episode, and provide credible answers for examplesto:
- The present locations of the adoptive parents; the remaining 199 children; the exact amounts paid for each child in 1998 and who received payment for each
- The identities of those who supervised and executed the fake Notarized documents, so as to flush them out of their careers or professions for good.
That will serve as a deterrent to future “Traffickers”, and further eliminate government expense on unnecessary workshops on Child Trafficking which to date would appear to be serving no useful purpose.
I will finally recommend that throughout the proceedings (a) An application be made to the Honourable Speaker of the House of Parliament for the Hon. Dr. Raymond to voluntarily recuss himself from all Parliamentary duties and sittings and (b) The operations of HANCI be immediately placed in abeyance, until the case is fully and “justiciably” resolved.