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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

When a Killer wants to be President of Sierra Leone
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Aug 16, 2011, 17:17
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...IMC, TRC, Bishop Humper & Rwanda Genocide

In Rwanda, it is a serious criminal offense to question whether the 1994 genocide ever took place. Those convicted of this offense of trying to hide away the facts of those Extra-judicial Killings, can find themselves serving several long years behind jail bars. Even Journalists whom, in their articles, try to sweep the Rwandan killings under the carpet can be swiftly sent to jail in Rwanda. Foreign journalists are not spared.

Executive State authority at any point in time and in any country on earth, is universally recognised to be placed in the hands of the de-facto Government of the day. This means that all nefarious actions which happen to its citizens can be blamed on a failure of such government to provide adequate protection for the citizens. This is why when the State itself resorts to extra-judicial killings, it is far, far more serious than other extra-judicial killings including war-time killings.

The National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) was the De-Facto Government of Sierra Leone on 29th December 1992 when senior members of NPRC, all with military training, decided to undertake an extra-judicial killing exercise which saw 29 humans slaughtered as if they were animals, their body parts got sliced off, following which raw acid was poured on the corpses and their brutalised human remains were buried in a very ignoble manner at the Kingtom Cemetery.

As stated above, all the culprits were those with military training who took an oath to protect lives and properties. Credible research indicates that not a single civilian NPRC member was amongst them that night. Only the top military cadre of the NPRC undertook that brutal, drugs-crazed killings.

The questions the civilian members of the NPRC will have to answer is why they did not resign from the regime in protest at the killings. However, the military officers who supervised and some of them, personally undertook the killings, will have to convince the Nation as to why they did what they did and why we should ever trust them ever again near State Authority! Those military officers really need to convince us as to why we should let them anywhere near our States Supreme Executive Authority!

One of the NPRC members who, at the very least, witnessed such a gory execution following which he broadcasted lies to the world about the victims was Julius Maada Bio who was not only the Number 3 man in the NPRC junta but was the juntas powerful Principal Liaison Officer (PLO) for Information & Broadcasting as well as Finance & Economic Development and also Foreign Affairs at the time of the Killings.

Julius Maada Bio is now putting himself forward for the position of the Supreme Executive Authority in the Republic of Sierra Leone. He wants to become elected under Section 40 of the Sierra Leone Constitution to become Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Grand Commander of the Republic of Sierra Leone and the Constitutional Fountain of Honour and Justice in this land. Naturally, there has been an uproar against his ambitions.

Bio recently granted a BBC interview in which he accepted what he called collective responsibility for the brutal killings. In other words, he has accepted that him and his military colleagues are 100% culpable for the Killings at which no civilian NPRC member was present. In other words, Julius Maada Bio has publicly accepted he is a Killer; albeit a Collective Responsibility Killer. The Fact though is that a Killer is a Killer. A Murderer is a Murderer.

Former President Mubarak of Egypt is on trial for killing his citizens he was supposed to have protected. Mubarak did not raise the weapon used to kill Egyptians neither did he witness the killings but he is charged with their Murder. Same with Sudanese President Bashir who has been charged for killing his people he was supposed to protect. Bashir did not raise the weapon nor did he witness the killings but he is charged with Murder.

Julius Maada Bios defenders have called for the public debate on his culpability for Murder viz-a-viz his fitness for Office of President, to be ceased. They cite the Rwandan genocide as a possible outcome in Sierra Leone, should the debate be allowed to continue about Mr. Julius Maada Bio and the extra-judicial killings.

Well, as cited above, the country Rwanda that Bios defenders are now citing, is the country that does not deal lightly with people trying to reduce the import of State-sanctioned Extrajudicial Killings like the ones undertaken by Maada Bio and his colleagues.

State sanctioned extrajudicial Killings are different from non State sanctioned extra-judicial killings in the sense that they are of much serious importance in that the very Supreme State Authority that is entrusted with the protection of citizens lives is now standing accused of sponsoring extra-judicial killings of the ones it should protect.

State sanctioned extra-judicial killings are unforgivable in many spheres of the civilised world. This is why the former President of Egypt is currently facing trial for Murder even though he never took out a weapon to personally murder anyone! This is why there is an International Criminal Warrant of Arrest for Sudans President who is facing Murder charges even though he also never actually took out a weapon and killed. Neither the President of Egypt nor the President of Sudan witnessed the killings they are now being charged with.

However, Mr. Maada Bio as the very powerful No.3 man in NPRC Government, personally witnessed murderous torturing of 29 citizens by NPRC State Authority in December 1992.

In February 1998, the ECOMOG backed militia took over the streets of Freetown and started to use petrol flaming rubber tyres to necklace the residents accused of collaborating with the illegal AFRC junta. In the provinces, the state-backed kamajors undertook a similar spate of extra-judicial killings. However, no-one attempted to blame the SLPP Government of former President Kabbah as being Murderers because the killings were not State-sanctioned. However, because they were the de-facto and de-jure Government at the time of such actions, many wanted Kabbah and SLPP to apologise for the lack of protection of citizens.

This is why Bishop Humper, during Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Hearings, severally tried to get former President Kabbah to apologise for the sins of those 1998 days. Curiously, President Kabbah refused to be drawn into making such an apology. It was left to John Oponjo Benjamin last year to make a semblance of an apology to the Nation on behalf of the SLPP.

Awareness Times worked very closely with Bishop Humper to publicise the TRC Report in 2005 and this newspaper will always have tremendous respect for Bishop Humper. However, why the same Bishop Humper that publicly urged President Kabbah to apologise, did not see the need to urge Maada Bio to issue an apology for the extra-judicial killings of December 1992, only the good Bishop and his colleagues can tell us. Additionally, why the Bishop Humper headed TRC acquiesced to taking down Mr. Maada Bios testimony in secret at his Spur Road residence whilst Strasser made his own testimony in public is something only the good Bishop and his colleagues can tell us. In the name of  God Almighty, how can the honourable Bishop Humper expect us to believe Maada Bios totally untested testimony made in secret?

Bishop Humper and his colleagues did a yeoman service to this Nation but they failed in one aspect of their laudable service. They did not properly examine the circumstances surrounding the 29 extra-judicial executions. To realise this salient fact, one only needs to listen to Victor Jarrett (Junior) as he laments over the death of his father Fireman Victor Jarrett (Senior), one of the victims of Maada Bio and other NPRC soldiers on that fateful December 29th 1992 night.

This is why several people are now calling for a proper examination of the circumstances behind those extra-judicial killings. One School of Thought is that if the TRC had done its job properly, the likes of Maada Bio will never have had the gall to stand up and ask to be considered for the sacred Presidency of the Republic. This school of thought believes that Maada Bio would have spent the rest of his time on this earth publicly atoning for his sins with apologies to the Nation, at any opportunity he had, rather than coming forward to ask for a second inning at Executive State Authority.

This now brings us to the position of the IMC which, though it had initially seemed to be censoring the media from questioning the characters of our would-be Presidents, has now been clarified to be one of only asking journalists not to publish gory images of atrocities past or making ill-researched statements that contravene the Media Code of Conduct. This newspaper always makes well researched Statements which is why the IMC did not name us amongst the litany of newspapers it named and shamed yesterday.

IMCs stated position yesterday was good. If the IMC had tried to muzzle the press against public discussions of Maada Bios collective responsibility killings then many journalists would have marched to the Supreme Court for a Declaration viz-a-viz our constitutional rights under Sections 11, 24 and 25 of the National Constitution!

Those in SLPP who used parochial considerations to promote a heavily tainted candidate like Maada Bio over others, have only themselves to blame for this Debate which will surely carry on until 2012 Elections and beyond.  Maada Bios extrajudicial killings debate is going nowhere.

Bio should work hard to convince us that if we place him back into a position of Supreme Executive State Authority, he would not murder our people again without a qualm of conscience. A man who has killed once, will find it easier to kill again a second time and a third time...


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