From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, ONS Cautions Against Reckless Reporting
By Augustine Samba
Sep 30, 2010, 17:06

Following what has been disclaimed as unfounded publications in a certain tabloid against the Office of National Security (ONS) that appeared in three separate editions on the 16th, 22nd and 24th September 2010 respectively, officials on Wednesday 29th instant unequivocally frowned at what they said was aimed at undermining their status throwing their integrity into disrepute.


In a press conference convened at State House in Freetown, ONS Chief of Staff Mr. Larry Bassie informed pressmen that their office has maintained a high level of integrity, political neutrality as expected of them through their statutory mandate since its formation by the previous government. He said as such they would not allow or accept anything that puts their hard won reputation stake. Our mandate ONS staff nation wide is to collaborate with other security networks and community people to enhance and maintain all matters that have the potential to undermine state security, he iterated to newsmen. He said is being done in diverse ways such as giving early warning and response mechanisms that support government framework by timely conveying important information to stakeholders for prompt action; the collation of intelligence and threat analysis to national security, the coordination national emergencies among others in addition to regulating small arms and light weapons. We know that the press has its own responsibility but we too hold high level of state security responsibility for which journalists should be very careful when dealing with our affairs, he noted, while cautioning that any matter relating to them must be investigated properly before going for publication.


In his statement the Deputy National Coordinator, Mr. Christopher dilated on the contents of the publications on the aforementioned dates implicating ONS in scam and disorientation. The publications headlines were ONS in Le.5m scam; ONS and DISEC in Disarray. He informed that following those publications they conducted series of investigations and consultations in the Kenema District where the matter was alleged to have taken place with those allegedly involved in the bribery just to ascertain the veracity of the story. But we discovered in our findings that the stories were outrageous and misguided with a ploy to tarnish the name of ONS Provincial personnel in Kenema as well as DISEC committee members, adding that it also aimed at creating bad image for the ONS in the country.


Giving a highlight of the entire scenario that was mismanaged by the press, Mr. John disclosed that the crux of the matter started the youth agitated against cheating on them by a rubber mining company known as ITAL that resulted in the damage of company property in the Tunkia chiefdom.  This continued impasse between the company and the land owners he went on warranted the intervention of the umbrella security network, DISEC that comprises all security stakeholders including community people who collectively intervened with a view to mitigate the problem.

 

DISEC findings were that the problem erupted as the youths claimed that they were not benefiting from loyalties paid by the company that are being put in the hands of communities representatives in the persons of Dr. Gahein Sama and Alhaji J B Swarray.  Further, Mr. John disclosed that DISEC with their several meetings with communities came to discover that an amount of Le 7,080,000 (Seven million and eighty thousand leones) has been paid by the company but kept by the two people. DISECs intervention led to the recovery of six million leones from the liaison persons to the community through the SLP with a promise to settle the balance later.  ONS did not receive the money for the community so we were surprised when the newspaper alleged that five million leones bribe was paid by the company to two ONS officials, Mr. Abdul Jaward Swarray and Mr. Dennis Jumu, he told the journalists, saying the publications were only aimed to tarnish their characters.


ITAL Company Financial Manager, Mr. Cheick Barray who was also present at the meeting disclaimed the allegations made in the publi
cations.


However, the reporter insisted that he had all documents and other proofs to substantiate his facts. 



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