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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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Excerpts shared by Sheriff Mahmud Ismail

The Government of Sierra Leone is placing great priority in improving the business climate, enhancing infrastructure and support to private sector development. In line with the government focus, the Central Bank is targeting price stability in support of economic recovery, enhancing monetary policy instruments and liquidity management and also limiting intervention in the foreign exchange market, which will be important to preserve foreign exchange reserves.

The above measures will help in the strengthening of the banking system to support financial intermediation. Commercial banks are thus poised to benefit and take advantage of the improved economic and business environment by offering better services to their customers, including loans and overdrafts and forex to import, thereby creating wealth and boosting government revenue.

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Freedom of Expression Violations Rise Sharply in West Africa

The incidents of freedom of expression rights violations in West Africa more than tripled in the first quarter (January-March) of 2017.

Over the three-month period, a total of 47 violations were recorded as against 14 violations for the last quarter (October-December) of 2016. The violations recorded in the quarter under review range from arrests and detentions to physical attacks, online violations, shutdown of media houses, censorship, seizure and destruction of property and killings. The 47 violations occurred in 10 out of the 16 countries in West Africa.

 

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Dr. Tam Baryoh’s Only Crime!

Boris Johnson as a Journalist worked at The Times and Daily Telegraph newspapers. He edited The Spectator newspaper between 1999 and 2006. He was Member of Parliament for Henley from 2001 to 2008 and was also Mayor of London. He is a member of the Conservative Party and the current UK Foreign Secretary.

Nnamdi Azikiwe was to serve as the first president of independent Nigeria from 1963 to 1966. He opened and edited a number of newspapers in Ghana and Nigeria and later became an active politician. Obafemi Awolowo was a great Nigerian politician. He also was an active journalist and edited The Nigerian Worker, amongst other publications.

There is a clear link between politics and journalism though, there seems to be a very thin boundary, or perhaps, “a reflective door in the firewall, such that with time, politicians and journalists cross the line changing roles and moving from side to side,” argues Aminat Afolabi in a piece, titled ‘Politics and Journalism, the Interwoven Relationship between Them.”

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I have

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Maada Bio is the second presidential candidate I have ever endorsed in Sierra Leone. The first was late president TejanKabbah during the campaigns in the 1996 general elections, which he won. I was then publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Expo Times, which won the best-selling newspaper award from the National Vendors Association that year. At the time, my newspaper was the largest circulation and most widely read newspaper in the country and my nearest competitors were For Di People and Concord Times. When the presidential election campaigns became heated and the battle lines were clearly drawn with the three front-runners, TejanKabbah of the SLPP, Karefa-Smart of the UNPP, and Thaimu Bangura of PDP (SORBEH), For Di People declared for and endorsed Karefa-Smart and the UNPP while Concord Times declared for and endorsed Thaimu Bangura and the PDP. Dr Prince Harding and Banda-Thomas then approached me to endorse and help TejanKabbah of the SLPP, who was then the clear frontrunner according to Opinion polls, to win the elections. 

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Ambassador Tom Vens stated that the EU Election Exploratory Mission is in Sierra Leone following an invitation by the Government of Sierra Leone for EU Electoral assistance, and to further discuss the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in facilitating EU Observer Mission for the March 2018 elections in the country. The EU Election Exploratory Missionas part of its mandate is in the country to draft and finalise the MOU with the Government of Sierra Leone through the Foreign Ministry.

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The State of World Population 2017: Unchecked inequality and failure to protect the rights of poorest women could undermine peace and world’s development goals, new UNFPA report warns

• Only about half of the world’s women hold paid jobs

• Globally, women earn 77 per cent of what men get

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Freetown, SIERRA LEONE, 17 October 2017-Unless inequality is urgently tackled and the poorest women empowered to make their own decisions about their lives, countries could face unrest and threats to peace and development, according the The State of World Population 2017, published today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

The costs of inequalities, including in sexual and reproductive health and rights, could extend to the entire global community’s goals, adds the new UNFPA report, entitled, “Worlds Apart: Reproductive Health and Rights in an Age of Inequality.”

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Supported by $500,000 from USAID, NEWS is implemented by the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) in Sierra Leone. The focus is to monitor and identify potential electoral violence triggers and assist government and non-government organizations in Sierra Leone to better mitigate them.
The National Elections Response Group (NERG) is a partnership under the NEWS project, between WANEP, the Inter-Religious Council, the Campaign for Good Governance, government stakeholders, representatives from the National Electoral Commission, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Office of National Security (ONS) and a number of civil society organizations.

The primary objective of the National Elections Response Group (NERG) is to monitor the elections environment, develop, and recommend strategies and actions to relevant stakeholders with authority to implement necessary response actions to prevent escalation of tensions or incidence of violence for a peaceful 2018 election. Members of the NERG will work closely with WANEP, the Integrated Election Security Planning Committee under the ONS, Provincial and District Election Security Committees – PROSEC and DISEC with an extensive network of civil society organizations and with 60 community monitors across the country to identify potential risks of electoral violence.

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PRESIDENT KOROMA SAYS… “I am very proud of Ansumana Usman Koroma”

President Dr Ernest BaiKoroma has informed Sierra Leoneans that, “I am very proud that we have people like Ansumana. We need many more Ansumana Usman Koromas that will go out there as Ambassadors of our country, showing and telling a good story about Sierra Leone.”

Whilst speaking at his Presidential office in Freetown, President Koroma affirmed that, “I am very proud of Ansumana and I am encouraging him to do more by helping his people.”

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