From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Afsatu Kabba
APC Students & APC Activists to Defy NAC over Afsatu
Apr 26, 2010, 14:46

Strategic members of the ruling All Peopleís Congress have told this press that they were prepared to defy even President Koroma in order to continue their public show of support for indicted party strongwoman Haja Afsatu Olayinka Kabba. Speaking to Awareness Times at various times last weekend, they spoke of their support for the fight against corruption but also made known their current deep seated mistrust of the Abdul Tejan-Cole led Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) which indicted Haja Kabba.

It will be easily recalled that the ACC has embarked on a series of unfortunate actions involving Haja Afsatu Kabba which have led many citizens to suspect a witch-hunt. Many suspect an alliance with a political axe to grind have subjected the lofty ideals of the ACC into a cheap tool as seen with armed police officers conducting raids to molest the Kabba family. As a result, the ACC which had enjoyed tremendous support, now finds itself struggling to regain the confidence it once wielded in the society whilst the woman they have indicted now enjoys the claim of being the first Sierra Leonean to be indicted for corruption only to have her popularity soar even higher than before the indictment. At the commencement of the now-botched 17-Count trial, a large number of party members defied orders not to appear.

Indeed, APC members have made no secret of the fact that they were contacted by highly placed APC officials warning them not to attend Court in solidarity with the indicted minister.

"Look at that newcomer M.S. Kargbo having the guts to tell me that I should not have worn my red and white colours to attend court. Where Afsatu dies is where some of us are going to die," a prominent APC Haja of longstanding within the ruling party philosophically told Awareness Times with bitterness in her voice. She was referring to reports APCís National Organising Secretary Alhaji M.S. Kargbo had contacted APC Women to tell them that President Koroma did not want them at the Law Courts anymore to support Haja Afsatu Kabba let alone dressed in the red and white APC party colours.

Awareness Times can now categorically reveal that many APC students and APC Women have been castigated by people close to President Koroma for going to court en masse on April 19th 2010 when the case was first supposed to commence. The reaction from most of these women and youths have been one of derision for these so-called Presidential messengers.

There are also reports that the highest policy making body of the ruling APC, the N.A.C will summon APC students and APC women in front of it for disciplinary actions should they turn up in Court at the next adjourned date of May 5th 2010. Indications are that the night before the last trial date (i.e: night of April 18th), word was sent out to APC members not to turn up at the Courts. Additionally, scores of anti-riot police officers turned back the supporters of the indicted party strongwoman who thronged to the courts that morning.

Several APC students insisted to this newspaper last weekend that they will defy any such order from NAC. Such defiance is a sign of the strong undercurrents flowing within the party as the decisions of NAC are usually treated with respectful deference by APC party members. Already, a local newspaper Editor, Brima Samura has likened the Afsatu Kabba indictment to that of the current South African President Jacob Zuma whose similar indictment for corruption in South Africa, had resulted in similar reactions within South Africaís ruling ANC.

Meanwhile, in a further show of defiance, yesterday Sunday April 25th 2010, APC students took over the airwaves of the popular Galaxy Radio that covers Freetown, Port Loko and Lungi during which they threatened that any senior APC member who openly castigated Haja Afsatu Kabba, when she was yet to be proven guilty would "have to explain to APC Students".

"We know what is going on and we know the main persons fighting Haja for political reasons. It is as if the ACC was set up not to fight corruption but to destroy the personality of Haja Afsatu Kabba. Income Electrix, Hiring of Messenger, Bribery, Soliciting, Misappropriation of Funds, etc. etc. etc. Only Haja Afsatu? When Income Electrix did not work, they come with Lilian Lisk and then they see that will not work and they say Misappropriation of funds. Imagine charging for hiring a messenger? APC students can reason so we are standing with Haja Afsatu through thick and thin," Alie Conteh, the President of APC students stated over the popular radio.

His fellow APC students made similar strong remarks.

Meanwhile, the ACC which had promised Defence Lawyers in Open Court that they would serve Witness Statements and Bundle of Evidence on Haja Afsatu Kabba, "within three days" are yet to serve a single piece of evidence or statement on the indicted party strongwoman.

It will be recalled that in the earlier 17-Counts indictment, now thrown out or suspended in its entirety, not a single piece of evidence or Witness Statement was ever served on the APC strongwoman.

Despite all these obvious anomalies and inconsistencies in the "fight against corruption" involving Haja Afsatu Kabba, certain persons within the APC, allegedly including the President himself, wish to have party members abandon the party strongwoman and not show her any support.

This allegation has not gone down well with the vast majority of APC party members around the country that this press has spoken to.

"We have already warned Zainab Bangura right in front of her offices. Very soon, if they do not leave us alone to support Haja Afsatu in the way we want, we will start publicly warning the others who are fighting Haja Afsatu Kabba. She is innocent until proven guilty! We are with Haja all the way and no-one is going to remove us from behind Haja Afsatu Kabba," said Haja Yealie, the Chairlady of Guard Street Marketwomen who is also an APC strongwoman. Interestingly, Haja Yealie not only hails from Yonibana, the home of Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura but she is also a maternal aunt of Zainab Bangura and one of the marketwomen who helped to usher in democracy in 1996.

Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura is widely perceived in APC circles as being one of the persons using the Abdul Tejan-Cole led Anti Corruption Commission as a tool. Sunday April 25th 2010 saw the State Broadcaster run a Live Phone-In Programme on the Salone-Gullah Kinship. It revealed some of the deep-seated anger against Zainab Bangura currently seething in the country. Caller after caller to the State Broadcaster took turns at castigating Zainab Bangura for various reasons not limited to her prominent role in the Indian Rice corruption saga that the ACC is yet to pay attention to.

The ACCís Abdul Tejan-Cole is a loyal protege to the Foreign Minister.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.