From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Alpha Kanu Says President Koroma is “Gravely Concerned” Over Rape Allegations
By Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Mar 23, 2009, 10:07

In a telephone interview with this writer late on Sunday evening of March 22nd 2009, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Political Affairs, Hon. Alpha Khan who is apparently still doubling as Presidential Affairs Minister, has stated that his boss, the President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, is currently, "gravely disturbed" at the allegation that "six of his subjects were raped in Freetown on Monday 16th March 2009".

According to Alpha Khan, the President upon coming to learn of the realisation that indeed "such a grievous crime had allegedly been committed", immediately summoned Alpha Khan and Gender Affairs Minister Soccoh Kabia and according to Alpha Khan, in his own words, "dispatched us with speed to visit the victims at their admitted clinic along Edward Street".

He confirmed that he went with video cameras last Friday to the private clinic but said they were SLBS Television crew whom he took along to show the public that the Government cared about the admitted ladies but not for public viewing of the victims.

When queried by this writer as to why it took so long for the President to acknowledge the existence of the rape victims, Hon. Alpha Khan explained that they had been so busy "trying to close the political gaps in the country" that they had overlooked the news of the rapes.

He emphatically insisted that at the time President Koroma was making his Address to the Nation on Tuesday 18th March 2009, the President had "no idea that women had complained of being raped".

He however said the President was waiting for the Police investigations to be completed before making any public statement on the matter but reiterated that President Koroma was "deeply concerned, yes, very deeply concerned over this matter. Please report that point in your newspaper. The President is gravely concerned over the allegations of rape".

Also, the First Lady's Office has on the same Sunday evening also contacted this writer to inform of the position of the First Lady towards the rape victims.

"The First Lady has long since denounced the alleged rapes since the time she was attending the International Conference in Kono. She is particularly upset that the reports of rapes in Sierra Leone happened at this period when men and women around the world are joining hands to stop sexual violence against women," her Press Officer Ayo Lukobi-Johnson stated to this writer adding that the First Lady has already called for a speedy investigation into the allegations.

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