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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

2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul

 

The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in  Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of  the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th  IPRA conference in Turkey,  at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th  IPRA  conference in Istanbul  to serve a second term of two years.

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Business News

ACC URGES EDSA BO TO TACKLE BRIBERY AND PETTY CORRUPTION

“Electricity is an essential commodity. Operations of Government offices and private enterprises hinge on the availability of electricity. And in the homes, every single Sierra Leonean will like to enjoy electricity service; therefore, we cannot afford to tolerate petty corruption and bribery in the energy sector,” ACC Southern Regional Manager told staff of Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) at a general meeting at EDSA conference room.

Samuel Marah said EDSA staff have to brace up for the job and conduct themselves in line with best practice. He said meters, poles and cables, ladders, pliers, and computers do not involve in malpractices by themselves, but it is the individuals who use them as they interact with the gullible public. The public most times is unable to identify EDSA staff from non EDSA staff.

He said EDSA in Bo must implement measures already designed to tackle petty corruption and bribery happening in the sector. May 2017 PNB complaints report indicated bribes paid for meter replacement, new connection, reconnection, bill reduction and avoiding disconnection. These hotspots continue to feature repeatedly in the report and it is about time actions are taken. Erection of service charter indicating costs for services can be a huge measure to curbing petty corruption.

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Media News

44 Journalists in Beijing for China Development Studies and Media Exchange

The 4th session of the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) Program hosted by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) was officially launched on Wednesday 1st March 2017 in Beijing, China. This year’s event is running simultaneously with the China South Asia Center 2017 program. Both programs brought together forty-four journalists from Africa and South Asia.

The program you will give journalists the opportunity to cover major domestic and international events in China such as the upcoming Two Sessions, i.e, the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and the 5th Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese

People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (similar to Parliamentary sessions in many countries) in March, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May and the 9th BRICS Summit in Autumn this year.

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Commentary

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT

A PASSIONATE LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT:  44TH EDITION

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT
 Your Excellency Sir,
 It’s been six months since I subscribed to my usual publications of this piece. And this is primarily because I have been out of the country for the entire period, and as such would not normally objectively tender a subscription. I do apologize to my readers for this. So having being in Monrovia, Liberia for the recently concluded ECOWAS Summit, I would like to do some analysis on such a historic august body and gathering of this sub-Saharan/West African region.
 
In resume, among other crucial achievements, ECOWAS, through its military apparatus, ECOMOG, played very sacrificial and invaluable roles in bringing peace, security and democratic governance to both Sierra Leone and Liberia during their past civil wars, and most recently ensuring that the Gambian people’s democratic change of government from the notorious dictatorial twenty seven years regime of Yaya Jarmeh, to the current government of President Adama Barrow, through their tactical robust intervention, overseen by President Helen JohnsonSirleaf of Liberia and other ECOWAS Presidents/actors, was enforced. Furthermore, ECOWAS has also spearheaded the enactment of several socio-political, advocacy and economic treaties in the sub region.
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View Point

WHY SIERRA LEONEANS HATE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT

Honestly speaking Sierra Leoneans are well known for their hospitality all over the world, especially in Africa. But ironically many of them hate each other. But they love foreigners. They have high respect for strangers. But unfortunately they do not have respect among themselves. You can attest this to what is happening in the social media. Where they are showing their pull him down (PhD) syndrome. By castigating their compatriots unnecessarily. Some of them just because of jealousy and envious evil spirit they possess. They prefer to promote foreigners than their own brothers and sisters both in and out of the country.

Day in day out they are insulting each other.They are using all sorts of vulgar languages against each other. And even their own highly respected president in the world, President Ernest Bai Koroma they are insulting him openly. Therefore, it is an open secret that many Sierra Leoneans are not well cultured.

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News - Press Release

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Maria E. Brewer as U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone

Maria E. Brewer of Indiana has been nominated to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Sierra Leone.   U.S. Ambassador John Hoover departs Sierra Leone in early July 2017.  Ms. Brewer will take up her new position pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Ms. Brewer, a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service and class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1996.  She is currently the Deputy Director of the Career Development and Assignments Division of the Bureau of Human Resources at the Department of State. 

Ms. Brewer served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria from 2013 to 2016.  Previously she served as Deputy Executive Director of the Bureau of African Affairs, Management Officer in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Management Officer in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

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Society -Local News

PORT LOKO UNIVERSITY COLLEGE JOINS THE ANTI-GRAFT CRUSADE

Staff and students of the Port Loko University College, a constituent college of the Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology, pledged to support the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in fighting graft in the country. This commitment was made during a special talk delivered by the ACC Regional Manager North, Abu Bakarr Kamara on Wednesday, 21st June, 2017.

Delivering his address to a jam-packed audience in the college's auditorium, Mr. Kamara explained to staff and students the various approaches ACC employs in combating graft in the country. He went on to explain the key features of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008, as amended, cataloguing the various corruption offences contained therein.

The Regional Manager reminded students that as teachers in training they should imbibe good moral values; among which are high levels of integrity and commitment in their career as teachers, describing them as agents of change in the country's socio-economic development. "Corruption in the education system is one of the most potent form of corruption that leaves an indelible negative imprint on the psyche of the pupils you are going to teach", the Regional Manager noted.

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Development

ACC PARNERS WITH CSOs IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN BO

Media Foundation for Development Sierra Leone has joined the fight against corruption in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone. It comes following days of heightened Pay No Bribe (PNB) public campaigns organized by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

ACC Manager South, Samuel Marah, said the Commission looks forward to receiving more civil society organizations with shared interest in addressing corruption which affects the lives of bulk of Sierra Leoneans. He said the task is huge and requires support from CSOs who directly work in the interest of the public.

The 2014-18 National Anti-Corruption Strategy stresses the importance of partnership and collaboration in tackling graft. Since CSOs are central to the governance of the state in initiating and designing development programmes that address poverty and under-development, partnership with them places the Commission at a vantage position in tackling mis-procurement, misappropriation of public funds, and bribery.

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Politics

Vice President Foh launches One Health Platform

Vice President, Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh has officially launched the One Health Platform, an innovative, proactive to prevent, detect and respond to future disease outbreak in Sierra Leone past Friday June 23, 2017 at the Miatta Conference Centre, Brookfields in Freetown.

Delivering his keynote address, Vice President Dr. Victor Foh described the ceremony as an history making event of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, recalling the launch of the maternal and child health week in June this year.

He said by the launch of the One Health Platform, Sierra Leone is taking another giant step towards achieving its health care delivery system, pointing out that by this step, they would be able to identify, diagnose and prevent, and cure diseases that are transmitted from animals to human beings.

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