From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Afsatu Kabba
Sierra Leone's Marine Resources Minister Afsatu Kabba Was Never Arrested - Her Team Of Lawyers Strongly Protest!
By Our Various Correspondents
Feb 19, 2010, 11:11

By Our Various Correspondents

Lawyers for Haja Afsatu Kabba, the indefatigable, dynamic Honourable Minister of Marine Resources & Fisheries have expressed "serious disappointment" with BBC journalist and President of Sierra Leone Journalists, Mr. Umaru Fofana over his erroneous BBC broadcast which misled that the Minister was arrested last Wednesday morning by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).

The team of lawyers inform Awareness Times that on the contrary what happened was that the ACC informed that ACC had learnt Afsatu Kabba had recently submitted her passport to Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura’s officials for visa processing.

"It was in this light that she was served notice under Section 63(1) of the Anti Corruption Act to request her passport back from the Foreign Ministry and submit it with the full cognisance that if she has any important ministerial trip to make during the cause of the investigations, she would apply back for it under Sections 64 or 65. She was never arrested as there was no cause to arrest her," one of her lawyers said.

Of course, it is well known & no secret that Zainab Bangura has a long running feud with Afsatu Kabba that pre-dates both ministerial appointments. Unconfirmed rumours indicate that Zainab had promised to teach Afsatu a lesson because Afsatu allegedly went right into Zainab’s house in Yonibana, Tonkolili, ate food there where President Koroma was last weekend but did not greet Zainab. It is also no secret Zainab has a protégé-mentor relationship with ACC Boss, Abdul Tejan-Cole who was also seen at Zainab’s house in Tonkolili last weekend. Abdul Tejan-Cole was photographed inside Zainab’s house socialising with her. He looked relaxed. He wore a light blue shirt that was hanging over his trousers.

It is widely believed that Zainab has a hold over Abdul Tejan-Cole as she was the one who supposedly facilitated his appointment at ACC. Tejan-Cole was not reached for his comments as he was reported to have flown out of the country on Tuesday night after he signed Notices inviting Afsatu Kabba to ACC. Zainab & her guests returned to town from Yonibana by Monday.

Meanwhile, the BBC journalist Umaru Fofana also has strong ties to the Anti Corruption Commission but it is believed that he did not make the broadcast out of malice but out of being misled by his "sources" within the ACC. Awareness Times could not get on to the respected journalist but it is expected that he would throw light on this unfortunate error of his soonest he can. It is no exaggeration to state that his reputation as a credible journalist is linked to how he handles fallout of his false broadcast. Meanwhile, supporters of Hon. Afsatu Kabba are not pleased with Umaru Fofana’s broadcast which was not reflective of the reality. They insist that the only reason why Hon. Afsatu Kabba’s passport was requested and she was asked for two sureties was not because there was evidence of her having committed a crime but because officials at Zainab Bangura’s Foreign Ministry misled the ACC which caused activation of a Section 63(1) Notice.

From all the above, it is now very clear that Foreign Ministry sources of Mrs. Zainab Bangura most likely alerted the ACC with false alarms resulting to activate a Notice under Section 63(1) to request for Afsatu Kabba’s passport and have her provide sureties; all part of what is now widely perceived as a massive conspiracy to defame Afsatu Kabba both within and without the Ernest Koroma led APC Government.

It is important to state that it is unclear where President Koroma stands in this saga as he has kept a distinguished silence so far but President’s brother Thomas Koroma has however been named as a top member of Fish Mafia!

Further reinforcing the Conspiracy Theory is that in addition to very false BBC broadcast is the supposedly unprecedented One Billion Leones Bond that Madam Afsatu Kabba’s two sureties were asked to individually sign in the sum of Half a Billion leones each. The fact is that the Section 63(1) under which Afsatu Kabba was asked to provide sureties calls for two sureties of minimum fifty million leones property value. How come ACC’s people at Investigations decided to multiply by ten and instead of 50 million leones request for 500 million leones (Half Billion) is what has raised many eyebrows about the queer episode. Section 63(1) is clear on property owners’ minimum figure to be bonded but discretion is given.

"When people hear of One Billion Leones Sureties added to the wicked lies about her being arrested, it is all designed to malign the good name of Afsatu Kabba, the first Government Minister who has shown determination to revamp and reform the Fisheries sector for the good of all Sierra Leoneans but people are not fools and know what is going on," said one fishmonger at Kissy Road Market.

Contrary to the arrest lies on BBC, the Honourable Afsatu Kabba was back at her desk by mid-afternoon of Wednesday and was visibly seen at yesterday’s Armed Forces Day events. She is already back at her desk this morning serving the Nation and standing up against the FISH MAFIA. And many citizens are solidly with her because they know Mafia members like Thomas Koroma do not want to give up the so-called excess "By-Catch" as required by LAW and demanded by patriotic Afsatu Kabba. Many citizens believe that the Anti Corruption Commission should question all Fishing Companies on By-Catch and so many other issues that will reveal the real reason why the likes of Thomas Koroma and Lilian Lisk are fighting tooth and nail to have Afsatu Kabba removed from the Ministry of Mineral Resources.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.