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NEWS : Politics  

More Fire at Special Court in Sierra Leone As Hinga Norman names Dr. Prince Harding, Momodu Koroma, Momoh Pujeh,Thorlu Bangura, Hon. Ansu Kaikai, M.S.Kallon etc. as Members of the Kamajor War Council...
By Sayoh Kamara
Jan 26, 2006, 12:09

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Chief Sam Hinga Norman yesterday continued his defense at the UN backed Special Court with an insight into how arrangements were made for the ECOMOG military intervention that subsequently ousted the AFRC Junta with the full participation of the Kamajor Militia of which he was National Coordinator.

Chief Norman started off by explaining how he facilitated the flight that took President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah out of the country in the wake of the AFRC coup in 1997. He told the court that after he had ensured that a the helicopter he had facilitated to carry the President out of the country was in motion, he used his walkie-talkie hand set to direct the route of the pilot in order to avoid enemy fire from the ground. He said after the helicopter safely left Sierra Leone, he was not aware as to where the President was heading for until he eventually met him in Conakry, in the Republic of Guinea. In Conakry, Guinea, Chief Norman told the court that he attempted to see the President about seven to eight times, but was refused access by the security, even though other government ministers at the time were allowed to see him. He told the court that sensing that he would never be given access to the President, he therefore stopped any further attempts to see him.

He went on to tell the court that it was after sometime that when one day, he received a telephone call only to realize that it was the President. Upon taking the call, he told the court, he said the Presidents voice came over stating that there is only one Captain to a ship and that he (the President), was that Captain.

According to him, two days later, he was approached by Mr. Peter Penfold, the former British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone at the time, Mr. John Hirsh, the former American Ambassador to Sierra Leone at the time, Alhaji Abubakar, the former Nigerian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone at the time and the UNDP Country Representative to Sierra Leone at the time.

He said their mission was to preach to him the message of reconciliation because according them, they have the understanding that all was not well between him and the President. He told the court that these emissaries told him how important it was at the time for Sierra Leoneans to galvanize around each other in the interest of the nation. He went on to tell the court how these men promised to do all they could to reinstate the government and therefore considered it prudent that they as leaders of the country see each other in good faith. He told the court that it was from there that they went to the Presidents residence at the time at Bellview in Conakry where peace was brokered between him and the President and that after which they embraced each other. He told the court that it there that he was informed by the President how then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Chairman of ECOWAS, General Sani Abacha has pledged his support to assist militarily to remove the Junta from power in Freetown. He said he was therefore asked by the President to take up another appointment as National Coordinator to mobilize the local hunters at the time.

According to him, it was from that moment that the whole idea of the Kamajor Militia getting involved in overthrowing the AFRC, originated. He further told the court that four days after this meeting, he was instructed by the President to go to Liberia to meet with ECOMOG officially where he would be briefed as to the modalities of the pending military operation.

Chief Norman said the President specifically named one General Abdulai Mohamed Wan as the officer he was to first meet with directly on arrival in Liberia. He however noted that while all these were unfolding, he never told his wife about anything.

He continued by explaining that it was on the next day of his meeting with the President that the President sent him a vehicle to take him to the Conakry Airport from where he was flown to Sprigg-Pane Airfield in Monrovia, Liberia, where he was received by General Abdulai Mohamed Wan as said by the President. He said that he was whisked from the airfield to in a military vehicle to the Generals military base where the General stated to him that he expects him to have been fully briefed about the pending military operations. He said he was then taken to General Victor Malu, then Commander of the ECOMOG troops in Liberia, who also briefed him on the same subject and assured him of all the necessary logistical support.

Chief Norman went on to explain that the following day, he held a meeting with Nigerian ECOMOG officers with some members of the Kamajors militia already deployed at the Bo Waterside. He said during the meeting, he was told by General Malu that they were to provide the manpower whilst ECOMOG will provide all other logistics including arms and ammunition and food. He also stated that while all these were unfolding, he constantly reported to the President as to developments on the ground.

According to Chief Norman, whilst he was in Liberia, he was regularly visited by some government officials including Dr. Prince Harding, Momodu Koroma, Momoh Pujeh, Ansu Kaikai, M.S. Kallon, Thorlu Bangura etc. According to him, all these officials were members of the Kamajor War Council.

Chief Norman also intimated that whilst he was engaged in discussions with ECOMOG in Liberia, the President was already rendering financial support to those Kamajors already deployed in the Kailahun axis, whilst ECOMOG was already supporting them with arms and ammunition. According to him, Dr. Prince Harding, Ansu Kaikai and Momoh Pujeh were the most frequent visitors to Liberia. And that it was from the Liberia axis that they usually traveled to go to Base Zero, the Kamajor Base in Sierra Leone.

Chief Norman stated that during War Council meetings which he also attended in Conakry regularly, his efforts were widely lauded by his colleagues. According to Chief Norman it was because of these constant shuttles to and from Liberia that the then President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, threatened to arrest him. He said he therefore reported this to the President following which he decided to become permanently based at Base Zero.

According to Norman, the President was not all comfortable with that decision on the grounds that he would not be able to communicate with him as easily as when Norman lived in Liberia. Norman stated that throughout the initial period, he used ECOMOG communication facilities to communicate with the President in Conakry.

Norman said that later a satellite phone was therefore provided for him by Dr. James Jonah which was delivered to him in Base Zero by Mr. Momoh Pujeh who went to the camp with a helicopter flight. The testimony continues.

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