From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
Sierra Leone's Marine Resources Minister being Hounded for Doing Her Job
By Augustine Samba & By: Jerry Cole Turay
Aug 28, 2009, 18:05


A top member of the Nationís security service has disclosed to this newspaper on condition of anonymity of his "complete puzzlement" at recent "very false" newspaper reports that the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Haja Afsatu Kabba was currently in the bad books of the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.

According to the Security person, immediately upon the recent return of President Koroma from Brazil last weekend, he summoned a top security meeting wherein he expressed how "pleased" he was with the strides that were currently being undertaken by the Honourable Afsatu Kabbah to improve upon the revenue generation in the fisheries sector.

Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Haja Afsatu Kabba

Accordingly, our source divulged that President Koroma exhorted his Security Chiefs to work in full collaboration with the Fisheries Minister to ensure her plans of breaking open the massive illegal fishing ring came to fruition.

Our source also revealed that even the Law Officersí Department was present and represented by the Attorney General Serry Kamal who was also ordered by President Koroma to work to ensure that Haja Afsatuís apprehension of illegal suspects were speedily investigated and charged to court. Our source is therefore confused as to why the visit to the ministry by President Koroma during which he warned the civil servants to desist from their old habits, was now being translated to mean the President was angry with Haja Afsatu Kabbah.

Staff at the countryís Budget Bureau also revealed to Awareness Times that there was no way that the Presidentís reference to an under-projected revenue for the fishing sector could have been refering to Haja Afsatu Kabbah as wild pundits were now trying to state. They insist that such revenue projections are made before the Budget is prepared at the end of any year and if anyone should be blamed for the under-projection, it was not Afsatu Kabba but Moses Kapu and Oya Sankoh. The latter, Madam Sankoh, has been the Deputy Minister at the Ministry since the days of Moses Kapu. It will be recalled that Madam Oya Sankoh used not to get along with Moses Kapu to the extent of fighting with him when he was gravely ill for official vehicles.

Meanwhile, the operators of the Alpha Fishing Company aka SunCo Fishing have been charged to court for illegally fishing and exporting from the territorial waters of Sierra Leone contrary to several Sections of the Fishing Management and Development Act of 2008. The suspects, many of them foreigners, were allegedly engaged in a multi-million dollar illegal fishing in Sierra Leone waters until Haja Afsatuís intelligence unit uncovered them and had them arrested with the help of some of our development partners.

This development has seemingly not gone down well with certain persons who quickly proceeded to plant attacks against Haja Kabba in the local media.

Ministry sources inform that Minister Afsatu Kabba personally oversaw the arrest and subsequent fine and detention of the illegal Fishing operations which has led to the discovery of the fact that this company has over the years, been operating illegally within the countryís waters with gross impunity. They also insist the Minister has cracked some syndicates.

Speaking to Awareness Times yesterday in a snap chat, the Minister said when she was first informed about the illegal operation of the Alpha Fishing company, she summoned the Director of Fisheries on the issue but he denied having knowledge over their operations until the Minsiter set in place her own intelligence network that uncovered the illegal exportation.

She also informed that according to the countryís laws, 49% of Sierra Leoneans should be employed by any local Fishing Company but that this one was only employing 2% Sierra Leoneans with rest being Taiwanese and other nationals. She also informed that the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has deployed Marine Protection Officers and Communication Intelligence to ensure proper monitoring of all processes.

"Many Fishing Companies have now rushed to become registered and it is a profit to the state" she noted, adding that, she has already started working with the relevant Government officials both at Finance and Fisheries to raise the projected revenue from the sector in the next annual Budgeting process.

Although the minister firmly refused to discuss any details of the security meeting hosted by President Koroma, she however agreed that only persons who were benefitting from fraudulent activites were currently angry with her. She expressed confidence that the President knows how hard she was working to raise revenue as well as to "clean up the mess we inherited".

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