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RTD. CAPTAIN ALIMAMY MAROUF SESAY - a civilian wrongfully tried by a military court-martial and summarily executed PDF Print E-mail

On Sunday 26 March 2017, three very close family members were 'laid to rest' at a Thanksgiving and Memorial service held at the King Memorial United Methodist Church in Freetown. That service celebrated memories of the following family members: Mrs Lydia Sesay nee Yormah (my elder sister), her son Rtd. Captain Alimamy Sesay, and Madame Gbonu Yormah nee Gbloh. 

Although these departed loved ones had died and were interred several years ago in my absence that thanksgiving service enabled me to truly emotionally connect with their demise. For one of the deceased the circumstances of his death did not permit us to give him a fitting funeral so to me that service served as his fitting, albeit belated, funeral service. That event has now freed me from the encumbrances that had prevented me for almost 19 years to put my thoughts about his demise on paper. This piece therefore serves as a tribute to his memory.

Alimamy Marouf Sesay, the first son of my elder sister, Lydia Sesay, lived with us at Contractor's Flat on Fourah Bay College (FBC) campus while he attended the Albert Academy. He had just completed his GCE Advanced Level programme and before we could plan his next academic challenge his paternal uncle, Mr. Sidique Dao (now late) got him enlisted in the Sierra Leone Army as a cadet officer. Those were the days when one had to have a strong political backing to be eligible to join the armed forces and I guess the young man saw it as an opportunity to carve out an early career as an army officer so he ignored my advice for him to opt instead for an academic career. He did well in the army and rose rapidly to the rank of Captain, to the delight of even this sceptical uncle. Alimamy, however, became entwined/embroiled in a benign disciplinary web that got him premature discharge/retirement from the army through little fault of his.

After a short period of soul searching he came to me with a proposal to pursue a career in IT, a decision I supported fully. However, before we could get him an institution to enrol the Johnny Paul Koroma coup d'état that overthrew President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah's government happened. Amid unconfirmed reports that the retired Captain Alimamy Marouf Sesay was now in cahoots with the band of coup makers and rebels, he came to visit me one evening at House K3, Kortright, FBC campus. I was amazed to see this retired military officer dressed fully in military uniform and I immediately scolded him for that. I told him he had been discharged from the army and therefore had no business wearing the military uniform he had on. I told him I had seen, since the coup, a lot of civilians wearing military fatigue but as an ex-soldier he should be mindful of the negative implications of civilians wearing military uniforms. He then told me the Head of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) Junta, Johnny Paul Koroma, had requested all retired military officers to join them to help stabilise and consolidate the junta. I told him the coup was an unpopular one which did not have domestic support nor that of the International Community. I finally admonished him not to ever attempt to come see me while dressed in military uniform. He then said good bye and left. Little did I know that conversation would be the last I would have with him.

A few days later I was able to acquire enough fuel to escape Freetown and fled with my family to Conakry via Pamlap. The next day we flew to Cotonou, Republic of Benin and lived with Dr. and Mrs Braima James as "refugee guests". While in Cotonou I naturally kept monitoring (via TV and the Internet) how the situation was panning out in Freetown. I was therefore able to know that Alimamy was among those people the ECOMOG soldiers arrested and locked up to enable the legitimate government of President Kabbah to return to power.

In the trials that ensued, the suspects that were arrested were divided into 2 categories viz., army officers, on the one hand and civilians, on the other who were involved in the coup and its aftermath. The former were to be tried by a court martial while the latter were to be tried by a civilian court. However, in spite of it being public knowledge that Alimamy Marouf Sesay had long been discharged from the army and hence  a civilian, he was lumped together with the active military officers and tried by a military court martial. I made Trojan efforts  from Cotonou to reach  Alimamy's  Lawyer, Francis Conteh (now late) and was successful in  getting him to drive home the fact that as a retired military officer, the young man should not  be tried by a military court martial. However, lawyer Conteh’s subsequent gallant efforts to correct the error of  Alimamy’s trial category, were in vain and  sadly, the civilian, Alimamy Marouf Sesay, was tried by a military court martial, found guilty and executed by a firing squad on 08 October 1998 at age 29 years 11 months; exactly a month to the day of his 30th birthday, having being born on 08 November 1968. To my knowledge, he goes down in history as the first and only civilian to have been tried by a military court martial, found guilty and publicly executed by a firing squad. He also happens to be the youngest Sierra Leonean to suffer that ordeal.

 I believe that in order to serve as deterrent to future coup makers, ECOMOG (the standing army for military intervention in cases of violent overthrow of civilian regimes) ensured that the execution was televised and beamed round the West Africa Sub-region and the world; that was how I was able to view that sad scene live! I still recall how I felt that day - how I refused to eat food the whole day. But more significantly my thoughts were constantly with my sister, Lydia, then a refugee in Guinea; how can a mom take the sight of bullets being fired at her blindfolded beloved very young son? I wondered. Naturally that sight or the thought of it turned Sissy into a near nervous wreck and this stampeded her to run to the UNHCR to seek asylum and refugee status. Sissy eventually suffered a series of strokes; that lingering emotional stress eventually led to her early demise. I remember talking to her on the phone from Kansas City (USA) after the first stroke - even in her trials and tribulations she never ceased to be the mentor and family education trail blazer. She reminded me of her role in seeing to it that my name was changed during early primary school from Thomas French to the present Thomas Yormah and kept reminding me that I belonged to a royal house; that our dad was a Paramount Chief - facts I was completely oblivious of as our dad died while I was in the cradle and brought up by my maternal uncle, Joe French. 

On subsequent further investigation I gathered the following facts about Alimamy's demise:

  • Rtd. Captain Alimamy Marouf Sesay was never involved in the planning nor in the execution of the coup d'état that overthrew President Kabbah.
  • There was no report that Rtd. Captain Alimamy Marouf Sesay killed or harmed anybody while collaborating with the ARFC Junta.
  • When Alimamy Marouf Sesay was foolish enough to respond to the call by junta leader, Major Johnny Paul Koroma, for ex soldiers to help in sustaining the junta he was posted to be in charge of President Kabbah's deserted residence. It was under his watch that the President's residence was extensively looted. Additional information received was that Alimamy himself may have been involved in the looting. It would appear this was his cardinal crime/sin, which I must agree was a grievous one. But should this have amounted to a treasonable offence - for which a young man below 30 years ought to have been killed?
  • The other civilian collaborators who were arrested along with Alimamy were eventually released without a trial. This means that if he had been correctly classified as a civilian, Alimamy, and perhaps his mother, Sissy Lydia, may still have been alive today.
  • It appears because most of us who are emotionally connected with Alimamy's demise were out of Sierra Leone when the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) deliberated this case was never captured. I am still in the process of investigating further into why this omission occurred, in an attempt to fill the gap in our tragic contemporary history.

This case was prosecuted by an SLPP government. In fact the prosecutor was the then Attorney General, Lawyer Solomon Ekuma Berewa - who eventually became the 2007 Presidential Flag-bearer for the SLPP. My puzzle here is how an experience and brilliant lawyer, a devout Catholic and a family head - a father - got to terms with prosecuting a 29-year old civilian by a military court martial and eventually got him killed on a flimsy crime of looting his President's residence?  The young man was at worst a civilian collaborator and looter, recklessly dressed as a military officer.

Please permit me at this juncture to bring in a politically relevant topical dimension. The current political landscape is fertile for dynamics that call for the realignment of forces with a view to sanitise our presently rotten Augean stable. If the reincarnated soul of Alimamy were around observing I bet he'll be asking/musing: "Uncle, what are you still doing in that party that wrongfully killed me?". I hear you my nephew! However, my response will come in a separate subsequent piece. Suffice to say that if I were to look for excuses to be politically footloose the foregoing is more than enough reason for me and my relatives to have quit the SLPP long ago.

Prof T B R Yormah is uncle to the late Rtd. Captain Alimamy Marouf Sesay

 

Editorial

26th IPRA Conference in Sierra Leone Ends on a High Note

The International Peace Research Association (IPRA) successfully held its 26th General Conference on ‘Agenda for Peace and Development: Conflict Prevention, Post-Conflict Transformation, and the Conflict, Disaster Risk and Sustainable Development Debate’ in collaboration with the 10TH Dealing With Disasters Series, Northumbria University (UK)and Sakarya University (Turkey) and  the University of  Sierra Leone at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone from November 27 to 1st December 2016.

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The Parliament of Sierra Leone on Monday 04th December 2017 debated and ratified two additional agreements aimed at improving and expanding Ports facilities in Sierra Leone to be at par with international best practices.

Presenting both Agreements prior to ratification, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Balogun Koroma said that the additional Agreements are geared towards addressing some of the concerns raised by MPs, in respect of expanding our Ports facilities to accommodate larger vessels, and the issuance of license with the view of combating money laundering, contra-band goods, and attracting more funds for Government.

Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Minority Leader of the House, also supported the ratification of the two Agreements, saying if our Ports are not developed, we would not be able to attract huge vessels; thus the need for the continuous improvement of our Ports facilities.

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“Successive governments have given us false hopes on the repeal of the criminal libel law. The politicians have lied to us. They have taken us to be big fools. President Koroma is our biggest disappointment. We had high hopes in him but he failed us woefully. So we will not trust any politician again, because when they get into office they forget about their promises,” said Nasralla.
 
Nasralla was speaking last Friday while formally launching a report on criminal defamation laws in Africa by PEN Sierra Leone at the SLAJ Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall, Campbell Street, Freetown. 
 
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A government which expends its energy for the benefit of the people is a progressive government and that is what Sierra Leoneans want at this time after being in the doldrums for ages. It is therefore absolutely necessary for fellow citizens to refrain from casting their valued votes in favor of candidates because of tribal or regional affiliations but on how genuine and capable that candidate is, otherwise stagnation in progress is bound to follow.

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“I studied Sociology at NjalaUniversity and graduated in 2015 but still unemployed despite several interviews being attended. I am currently awaiting my MSc at Njala University which is to be awarded early next year,” said 29 year old MabintyKamara.

“I graduated in 2012 with Honours from the Department of Accounting, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. I have sent several job applications; the only long job I got was with the International Medical Corps during the deadly Ebola virus and since then no job. I was also a volunteer teacher but the Minister of Education, Science and Technology did not approve me and others after almost a year of voluntary service so I quit,” said 31 year old Mohamed LaminKanneh.

In Sierra Leone, despite the numerous promises made by President Ernest BaiKoroma to figuratively ‘lay his life for the youth,’ unemployment among youth is one of the highest with no end in sight to reduce the spate of this social menace. According to the United Nations Development Program, approximately 70% of youth are underemployed or unemployed and an estimated 800,000 youth today are actively searching for employment.

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FREETOWN, December 13, 2017 —The World Bank Group has approved aSupplemental Financing (SF) in the amount of US$10 million to help the Government of Sierra Leone meet immediate needs associated with the landslide and flooding disaster that struck Freetown on August 14, 2017.The SF is a grant, provided as a supplemental budget support operation that will flow directly into the Government’s budget.

The funding, under the First Productivity and Transparency Support Credit (PTSC-I), will ensure that the reforms supported under thisoperation remain on track and are implemented without the risk of delays due to competing capacity or budgetary priorities arising from the post-disaster recovery. It will also help with the rebuilding of critical infrastructuredestroyed during the landslide and flooding.

Since the end of the Ebola epidemic, the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) has initiated substantive reforms to boost productivity, restore fiscal stability, and gradually rebuild buffers. The Government initiated substantive reforms, focusing on agriculture, fisheries and energy, supported by the First Productivity and Transparency Support Credit (PTSC-I), to boost productivity and start rebuilding the country's buffers.

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John Baimba Sesay is a native of Kapethe Village, Safroko Limba Chiefdom, with chiefdom headquarter town of Binkolo, in Constituency 034, Bombali District. The Constituency covers Safroko Limba and Pakimasabong Chiefdoms in the same district.

Born in the early 1980’s, he holds Bachelor of Arts (BA) Mass Communication, with Hons, 2004-2008 from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. He also holds a post graduate Master of Arts (MA), Mass Communication (2009- June 2010) degree from the same university.

John Baimba is my colleague based in Beijing. Having worked for a number of daily newspapers, including, Independent Observer, For Di People and Awoko, he has a wealth of experience in journalism.

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World Bank Group Boosts Financing for West African Power Pool Regional Power Transmission Project

FREETOWN, December13, 2017 —The World Bank Group on November 17, 2017 approved Additional Financing in the amount of US$59.57 million to West African Power Pool (WAPP) - Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea (CLSG) PowerInterconnection Project, which aims to increase electricity supply in the four participating countries.

The project will interconnect the four participating countries into the 225 kV (kilo volt) regional energy market in West Africa, and will also enable the connection to the WAPP of the planned hydropower plants in Bumbuna Extension, Yiben and Bekongor in Sierra Leone and Mount Coffee in Liberia and other future generation projects.

The Project will provide residents of Greater Monrovia Area in Liberia; Bo, Kenema and the Western Areas in Sierra Leone; and the Forest Region of Guinea, with improvements in power supplies in the short-term. It also pursues a regional infrastructure developmental approach that will provide over the medium- to long-term adequate electricity to the people of the four countries in a more efficient and cost effective way, boosting economic and social development.

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It will not be Business as Usual…Bio assures Diaspora

He was passionate, confident and assuring as he addressed hundreds of Sierra Leoneans at the prestigious Royal Regency Hall in London on Saturday 9th December 2017 with a very simple message that as the next President it will not be business as usual. For a man who has a solid track record as a disciplinarian, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio continues to attract many voters who feel the country needs a strong and disciplined leadership.

Cataloguing the current state of the country, Bio spoke about a divided country, the poor drowning in poverty, rich swimming in affluence, poor governance, battered economy, high public debt, third hungriest country, high inflation among others . He also reminded his audience that many of the things which necessitated the war such as bad governance, mismanagement of the economy, injustice have been the features of the current APC Government.

However, Bio's message was not just about the doom and gloom but also making a case why he is the right choice that the country needs. He spoke about his track record, experience and how he has always put his country first. "Some have come with slogan, country first, but I served my country first at a very tender age. I did not go around the world to work and come back old to say country first. When I was young I gave my life to our country," a passionate Bio said.

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