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West Africa Politics

Sierra Leone Bars Ex-Leader, Ernest Bai Koroma, From Foreign Travel1 minute read

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The Sierra Leonean Government has barred more than 100 public officials from travelling outside the West African country while it probes allegations of graft.

Those banned include ex-Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai Koroma, and others who served during his tenure.

The order signed by the attorney general and minister of justice instructs the country’s chief immigration officer and inspector general of police to not allow them to leave Sierra Leone by air, land or sea until they have clearance.

Every one of them had been ordered to pay back stolen money, forfeit their houses, or they will be further investigated.

Koroma’s opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party has dismissed the allegations, saying they will go to court to challenge the travel ban.

The country’s President, Maada Bio, had last week in an interview said the commission of inquiry, led by foreign judges, was a major breakthrough that would help make corruption unfashionable and risky.

He added that it is time to draw the line against graft.

The commission identified 111 individuals consisting of former heads of parastatals, bankers, and businessmen as “people of interest”.

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Muslim Faithful Observe Jumat Prayers During #ENDSARS Protest

Water was made available for the Muslims to perform ablution while private security guards were on ground, making sure those praying were not disturbed.

Bernard Akede

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Jumat Prayers during the ongoing #endsars Protest

As the ongoing #endsars protest in Nigeria reaches its ninth day, Muslim youths present at the Lekki toll protest ground in Lagos observed the traditional Friday prayers. At about 1 pm local time, the call to prayer was made and a portion of the protest site was cornered off for Muslim faithful.

ongoing #endsars protest

Water was made available for the Muslims to perform ablution while private security guards were on ground, making sure those praying were not disturbed.

While speaking exclusively to News Central, Dr. Muritala Oloke, the Director of Muslim Educational Health Foundation Lagos, broke down the sermon at the ongoing #endsars protest into three parts.

“The first aspect was addressing youth restiveness and the prevalence of immorality and all kinds of value reorientation that the youths of Nigeria need, in order to be on the right pedestal that can foster good governance.” He said.

He said the second aspect talked about Islam itself and the positions of Islam when it comes to the issues of protest. Dr. Oloke said in Islam, protests are actually allowed as far as they do not degenerate into violence. He added that even the early Muslim at some point had to protest in the face of oppression and tyranny in the society.

“The third aspect has to do with what we should now do as protesters, especially when the government has harkened to our call. What we should do is to respect the government, go back to our shell, cooperate with the government and ensure it does not degenerate into another thing.”

He concluded by saying all the gains of the protest should be channeled in a way that youth will see themselves as agents of positive change.

Not far from the Muslims, a group of Catholic worshipers could be seen on a procession, reciting decades of the rosary and interceding for the country.

While this was going on, normal protest activities continued simultaneously. The protesters could be seen and heard in their hundreds, cheering and chanting freedom songs.

But perhaps another topical issue still on the lips of many is the magnanimity of several groups and private individuals who have continuously been supplying free refreshment in terms of food and drink to protesters.

There also is the service of volunteers who have constantly taken it upon themselves to keep the protest ground clean.

While speaking to News Central, the owner of one of the privately owned garbage disposal units, who chose to remain anonymous, said the major reason behind clearing the trash at the ongoing #endsars protest is because “we still are in a pandemic and the protester will generate a lot of waste and we don’t want other health issues to arise at the same time”.

ongoing #endsars protest

He said this was his own way of contributing to the protest.

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British MP Writes UK Government Over Financial Support To Nigeria’s SARS

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Kate Osamor, a member of the British parliament representing Edmonton, has written to the United Kingdom Government to question and seek clarification on the nature of aid the country extends to Nigeria’s rogue police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

News Central reports that SARS had been disbanded following peaceful protests against the activities of the Nigeria Police Force unit.

Osamor’s letter sent to the UK government through the office of the Secretary of State, Foreign Affairs, called the attention of the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Mr Dominic Raab, to the nationwide protests in Nigeria in the past seven days against the excesses of SARS.

The letter was dated October 15, 2020.

She warned that further assistance be withheld and also called for an audit of what the previous aids were used for so that the UK Government agency would not be unintentionally supporting or facilitating the actions of an agency notorious for human rights violations.

The letter made available to ACE was written in a tone of caution to avoid a situation SARS got support from the agency without proper use.

Osamor’s letter cited that there have been 82 proven and documented incidents of torture, ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions and gross human rights abuses against SARS since January 2017 and cautioned it would be unthinkable that UK agency gives support to such body unless for training on proper conduct that respects human rights.

Osamor notified Raab that she wrote in her capacity as a member of a committee that superintends the agency.

She alerted that given the shady accountability process in the Nigerian agency, there might be the likelihood that UK might have been unknowingly providing support for an agency involved in the offences of abuses mentioned.

Her letter read, “I’m writing as a member of the International Development Select Committee and Chair of the Nigeria APPG to ask for some clarification regarding the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund project in Nigeria which is aimed at ‘increasing the capacity of Nigerian kidnap units to deliver anti-kidnap and kidnap response capacity’.

“I’m sure you will be aware of the recent protests against Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which has been involved in at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial execution since January 2017.

“Given these concerns and concerns generally with the nature of corruption and brutality in Nigerian law enforcement, it is obviously extremely important that no UK development spending finds its way into the pockets of groups within Nigeria who are guilty of such crimes.

“For that reason, I’m very concerned about the UK development funds which have been invested in the “Nigeria Countering Organised Crime and Corruption” project and the lack of transparency when it comes to this project.

“In light of the lack of detail provided and the circumstances in Nigeria, there is a high risk that the NCA is providing supports to units implicated in the abuses I have mentioned above.

“I would therefore be grateful if you could confirm whether any funding or other kinds of support have, directly or indirectly, been given to the SARS unit.

“If support has been provided, can you confirm whether it was in the form or training, the provision of equipment, funding or another form of support?

“Can you confirm what due diligence and risk assessments were undertaken prior to the implementation of the project?

“What steps is your department taking to ensure that any support given by this Government to SARS did not facilitate abuses?”

The lawmaker’s letter comes amid days of unending demonstrations by #EndSARS protesters who demand a total overhaul of the police system and an end to extrajudicial killings by its men.

The protests have intensified despite the disbandment of the unit and the announcement of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) to replace it.

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Guinea’s Top Army Commander Killed Two Days Before Election

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Armed men attacked a military base in western Guinea overnight, killing the camp’s commander, Col Mamady Condé, the defence minister said on Friday.

The attack comes two days before the West African country votes in a bitterly-disputed presidential election, where incumbent President Alpha Condé is running for a controversial third term.

Defence Minister Mohamed Diané said the attack in the city of Kindia, 130km (80 miles) north-east of the capital, Conakry, was now under control.

“On the night of Thursday October 15 to Friday October 16, 2020, armed men opened fire in the compound of the Samoreyah military camp in Kindia fatally wounding Colonel Mamady Condé, commander of the Special Commando Battalion awaiting Somoreyah-BSCA “, the defence minister said in a press release.

” The Defense Forces immediately reacted to secure the camp and its surrounding.”

Residents of the nearby neighbourhood heard gunshots at 02:00 local time and heavy shooting continued for five hours.

Sources claimed the attackers were dressed in military fatigues and seized arms and vehicles before fleeing the scene.

There were also reports of an attempted mutiny and that soldiers had seized weapons to free some of their colleagues who had been detained.

The authorities said a search is underway to find the soldiers involved.

The timing of the incident is likely to raise alarm. Voters head to the polls on Sunday to decide whether to award President Conde a third term in office, following a campaign marred by violence and divisive appeals to ethnic identities.

Kindia residents said a prison in the city was also attacked, wounding an official there and allowing several inmates to escape.

Conde’s candidacy for a third term after 10 years in power has drawn fierce criticism from his opponents, who say it violates the constitution.

Conde, 82, says he has the right to run again under a new constitution approved by referendum in March, arguing that it resets the clock on the two-term limit.

About 30 people were killed in protests before and after the referendum, and several people have been injured in clashes during the campaign between supporters of rival candidates.

Two days before the March referendum, gunfire broke out on a military base in Conakry, but it did not affect the vote.

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