Sierra Leone: Vice President Launches National Early Warning and Response Mechanism Coordinating Center 

Vice President Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh has launched the National Early Warning and Response Mechanism Coordinating Center, an initiative intended to be a community instrument for solidarity, essential for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts besetting West Africa.

He assured the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, of the country’s ability to handle the center, especially for its intended purposes, adding that the infrastructure already was equipped enough to be able to help it work efficiently.

The 15-member regional group, in January 2020, announced the move for the establishment of a national centre for the coordination of early warning and response center in Sierra Leone as a proactive measure to address regional challenges in responding to such problems as climate change, security and health issues.

Addressing the meeting, the President of the Commission of ECOWAS, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, said they had decided to establish the center in all member states and that he was pleased to be in the country for the same launch.

He went on to reiterate that the center was to manage crisis, manage information prior to crisis and to prevent crisis from happening. He noted that the establishment of the center would help the country to have stability in terms of peace and security.

He also disclosed that the ECOWAS Commission had taken up the responsibility to fund the center for the first year of its establishment.

Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr Francis Kai Kai, and in charge of the center, said he was pleased that Sierra Leone had joined other member states in the coordination and management of health and security crises.

“I want to commend the astute leadership of President Julius Maada Bio for giving his full support in ensuring the center is established,” he noted, adding that he was also appreciative of all key stakeholders and donor partners for their tremendous support to the process.

Head of European Union delegation in Sierra Leone, Ambassador European, Manuel Mueller, said the establishment of the center was laudable and would contribute to promoting the development of the country.

Sierra Leone: Seven Military Personnel in CID over Capt. Kamara’s Escape

By Joseph S. Margai

Officials of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), have on Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, disclosed to newsmen at MOD’s headquarters on Tower Hill, Freetown, that seven military personnel are currently being investigated at the country’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in relation to the escape of Captain Patrick Edwin Kamara.

Capt. Kamara, who is believed to have escaped from the military custodial centre at Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown, in the early hours of Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, was on a court martial trial with two other accused persons.
Major Yayah Brima, Staff Officer Grade II in-charge of public relations and information, said Capt. Kamara and the other two accused persons-Warrant Officer Class I Samuel Conteh and Warrant Officer Class II Abu Bakarr Jalloh-were on court martial on five count charges.

“These charges include conspiracy to steal service property, larceny by servant, wilfully damaging service property, wilful neglect causing damage to service property and conduct to prejudice of good order and military discipline,” he noted.

He said Capt. Kamara and the two others were key members of the security detail of former President Ernest Bai Koroma from 1st January, 2008 to 19th June 2018.

“The quantities of ammunition for which they were being tried under the various offences include 4,245 rounds of 12.7 millimetre (mm) anti-aircraft rounds, 3,828 rounds of 14.5mm anti-aircraft rounds, 11 bombs of rocket propel grenade, six rounds 7.62 × 39mm ball lint, 11,476 rounds of 7.62×39mm ball, 14,100 rounds of 7.62×39mm tracer, 6,740 rounds of 7.62×51mm ball lint and 515 rounds of 9×18mm ball,” he explained.

He added that the MOD/RSLAF would like the public to know that the value of the above mentioned ammunition is eighty thousand, four hundred and two dollars and thirty cent (US$80,402.30), approximately six hundred and eighty-three million, four hundred and nineteen thousand, five hundred and fifty Leones (Le683,419,550).
He recalled that the very day Capt. Kamara escaped from the military custodial centre, his twin brother coincidentally passed away at Makoth, seven miles off Yonibana near Mile 91, Tonkolili district, Northwest of Sierra Leone, after a long illness.

He said the deceased, Michael Kamara, had first been admitted at the Chinese Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Centre at the 34 Military Hospital in Freetown before later moved to the village for native treatment, where he died.

“Following these coincidences, the MOD/RSLAF has followed some misleading and inaccurate story purporting that Capt. Kamara has died in detention. The writer is believed to have deliberately mistaken the death of Michael Kamara for the fugitive Capt. Kamara,” he said. However, he said, the remains of Michael Kamara was conveyed to Freetown on the very day by deceased’s wife, Capt. Alice Koria Sesay, who is also a serving military officer.

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lt. Gen. Brima Sesay, said they have instituted necessary and proper actions regarding the escape and they have acted swiftly to hand over seven military personnel who were on duty during the escape, noting that they are being investigated at CID headquarters.

He said they have always been taking stringent actions against any military personnel who misbehaves, noting that the military would always be as good as the citizens want it to be. He called on media practitioners to always crosscheck with MOD before they publish anything relating to the military.
Deputy Minister of Defence, Col. (Rtd.) Simeon Nasiru Sheriff, said regarding the escape, they have enhanced standard operating procedures, revisited security advisory, among other measures.
He also called on all media practitioners to crosscheck with MOD before they publish anything relating to the military.

How using the military in Nigeria is causing, not solving problems

Soldiers patrol the Nigerian city of Jos, in the central Plateu State, in a bid to quell religious violence. EPA/George Esiri
Sallek Yaks Musa
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Stellenbosch University
Disclosure statement
Sallek Yaks Musa received funding from Lisa Maskell Fellowship of the Gerda Henkel Foundation in Germany as administered by the the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University and the Social Science Research Council’s Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa. He is affiliated with the Jos Stakeholders Center for Peace Collaborative of the Search for Common Ground, Nigeria.

Stellenbosch University provides funding as a partner of The Conversation AFRICA.

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Governments have a responsibility to protect their citizens against external aggression and internal violence. The first is usually the responsibility of the military. The second duty falls on the police.

But in Nigeria, the government often deploys  the military to restore order and to keep the peace. This is largely due to the inability of the police to contain violent conflicts, particularly in areas where armed groups are active.

This is the situation in Jos, the capital of Plateau State in the centre of Nigeria, just north of the administrative capital Abuja. The military has been used to maintain security since violence broke out between Christians and Muslims in September 2001.

The violence has evolved into one of the most enduring conflicts in Nigeria. Initially, angry young people used crude implements such as axes, sticks and machetes. Now various organised ethnic and religious militias wield small arms and light weapons. The conflict has spilled over into most parts of the state, with a pattern of hit-and-run attacks developing.

Several studies have indicated support the use of the military as a “necessary evil” to ensure the return to peace in the region.

But my study found that using the military to quell internal conflicts and restore order causes several problems. These included undermining the legitimacy of the military mission, as well as failing to quell the violence. In my PhD thesis I concluded that the conduct of soldiers only worsens the security situation for ordinary people.

I identified two factors as responsible for the problems. The first was a lack of military professionalism. Soldiers often intimidate and coerce civilians. They also engage in corruption and extortion, especially at military checkpoints. Some soldiers also subject civilians to psychological and emotional abuse. Yet others engage in blatant and flagrant acts of sexual and gender-based violence.

The second factor I identified was the fact that the command-and-control structure of the military is at odds with the way society operates.

These problems could be addressed with effective civil control of the military. But the study argues that civil control is weak in the country.

The use of the military

The response of the Nigerian government to growing levels of insecurity has increasingly been to use the military. Several peace and security conferences and commissions of inquiry have been instituted. But these yielded little or no result due to the lack of political will by the government to implement the recommendations.

The military has been deployed because of the weaknesses and inadequacies of the Nigerian police. Inadequate training, shortage of manpower as well as policing equipment, coupled with excesses have added to the erosion of public trust in the police and their legitimacy.

But the use of the military has introduced a host of new problems.

In my study I set out to understand whether the Nigerian state is exercising adequate civil control of the military to ensure that it doesn’t become a threat to the citizenry and exacerbate insecurity. I conducted 55 one-on-one interviews with civilians in six local government areas in Plateau State.

The study found that civilians see the military as exacerbating insecurity. For example, increased militarisation has led to people’s movements and activities being severely restricted. And several emergency rules have been declared. These have involved suspending civilian government and replacing it with military administrators.

Another finding was that dereliction of duty is rife among soldiers, with some choosing which distress calls from citizens to respond to or not.

On top of this, there’s tension between military culture and civilian values. The military operates a culture which follows an authoritarian leadership style, and is combat-focused. For their part, civilians are more likely to seek resolution to issues and to use the criminal justice system to adjudicate problems.

This has led to relations between civilians and the military becoming severely strained.

Lack of civil control

A bigger problem is the weak civil control over the Nigerian military. This has led to a lack of accountability and compliance with rules of engagement.

Nigerian law subordinates the military to civil control and parliamentary oversight. Ideally, this should ensure that the military acts within its mission and mandate. But, the problem lies with implementation. The culture of civilian supremacy over the military is not as yet well institutionalised.

The result is that citizens counteract abuse by the military in various ways. One way is to simply comply with the demands and orders of the soldiers, even when they are illegitimate. Another entails non-violent resistance or non-compliance. For example, it’s common for civilians to refuse to cooperate and share information with the military.

A third way is to collaborate with compromised soldiers. The fourth is to use various forms of violent resistance. This involves people either aligning with armed groups, or forming their own. This proliferation of armed groups worsens insecurity.

My study also showed a sharp difference of opinions between people of different religions. Christians contended that the military was biased in favour of Muslims. For their part, Muslims didn’t share this view.

What needs to happen

The use of the military is not an effective intervention against internal armed conflict. This is especially so in states with weak institutional control over the military as is the case in Nigeria.

The more recent setting up of a peace building agency is a more plausible alternative towards bringing the violent conflict to an end through effective mediation and peace education. The use of the military needs to be reconsidered and the peace building agency should focus on reuniting people and bridging the gap between the reactive security measures with proactive conflict prevention strategies. This is the only way in which trust and relative peace can be restored in this once peaceful Nigerian state.

Credit: The Conversation

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) holds hearings in the case Qatar v. United Arab Emirates – second round of oral observations of Qatar

Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Qatar v. United Arab Emirates)

Fixing of time-limit for the filing by Qatar of a written statement of its observations and submissions on the preliminary objections raised by the United Arab Emirates

THE HAGUE, 10 May 2019.

By an Order dated 2 May 2019, the President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has fixed the time-limit within which Qatar may present a written statement of its observations and submissions on the preliminary objections raised by the United Arab Emirates (the “UAE”) in the case concerning Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Qatar v. United Arab Emirates).

In his Order, the President recalls that, on 25 July 2018, he had fixed 25 April 2019 and 27 January 2020 as the respective time-limits for the filing of a Memorial by Qatar and a Counter-Memorial by the UAE, and that the Memorial of Qatar was filed within the time-limit thus fixed.

The President also recalls that, on 30 April 2019, the UAE raised certain preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the Court and the admissibility of the Application and that, in accordance with Article 79, paragraph 5, of the Rules of Court, the proceedings on the merits have therefore been suspended.

Pursuant to that same provision, the President, by the said Order, has fixed 30 August 2019 as the time-limit within which Qatar may present a written statement of its observations and submissions on the preliminary objections raised by the UAE.

It is further explained in the Order that that date has been fixed taking account in particular of Practice Direction V, according to which the time-limit for the presentation of such a written statement shall generally not exceed four months from the date of the filing of preliminary objections.

GMES and Africa partners rally to weave together solutions to Africa’s development challenges

African development experts and institutions have begun a five-day meeting in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, to weave together strategies and mechanisms of delivering on the services they are mandated to provide under the banner of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa).

A joint initiative of the African Union Commission and the European Commission, GMES and Africa aims to address the growing needs of African countries to access and use Earth Observation (EO) data for the implementation of sustainable development policies, management of the environment and natural resources, as well as monitoring of humanitarian operations in Africa.

GMES and Africa is built on aspirations of the African Agenda 2063, which craves for a prosperous, peaceful and integrated Africa, and for a robust and responsive African outer space programme. It focuses on thematic areas reflecting Africa’s developmental priorities, including Water and Natural Resources, and is implemented through consortia of regional and national institutions across the continent. The Dakar meeting, which will also be attended by officials from the AU’s Regional Economic Communities and organizations, and from European technical institutions, is a platform to discuss and provide solutions to the implementation of the four pillars of GMES and Africa, including Infrastructure and Data, Products and Services, Training and Capacity Development, as well as Outreach, Awareness and Engagement.

The GMES and Africa Coordinator, who is also the African Union Commission’s Space Science Expert, Dr. Tidiane Ouattara, describes the meeting as an opportunity for the participants from different thematic backgrounds to share experience and forge ideas on the design and development of Water and Natural Resources services. “It enables them to plan together training and capacity development activities, and drive the operationalization of ICT tools and digital platforms created to facilitate seamless communication among stakeholders”, he observes. Some of the institutions and experts under the GMES and Africa banner have extensive and cross-cutting experience in service delivery on the programme’s four thematic pillars and will use the Dakar convergence to impart best practice ideas and models to their peers.

GMES and Africa was launched in November 2016, following continent-wide and international consultations on Africa’s needs and priorities in pursuit of exploiting earth observation data and information to leverage sustainable development in the continent. The programme is funded by the European Commission to the tune of 30 million EURO, and implemented by the African Union Commission through an open Call for proposals from African institutions which are provided with grants to deliver services to user communities.

No community, country or region should be made to feel too small – says Ernest Bai Koroma

Sierra Leone’s former President, Ernest Bai Koroma, informed stakeholders that to consolidate peace requires opening the political space by encouraging genuine inclusiveness in governance.

“No community, country or region should be made to feel too small or inadequate to be accorded its rightful place in development,” he said.

Sharing his experience at the Horasis Global Meeting in Caiscais, Portugal, the former president said “As soon as we came into government, our first major action was to reform the anti-corruption legislation, giving more autonomy to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)”

“It now has the power not only to investigate but to prosecute as well: we have created an institution to fight corruption and strengthen transparency.”

The event usually gathers business leaders, heads of governments, key cabinet ministers, and eminent thought leaders to advance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the world. During this year’s four – day global conference, participants are expected to share their insights in view of the current ‘fragile and fractious’ state of our world.

Recognised as a champion of peace in Africa, Sierra Leone’s former President was invited to deliver a special message on how the world could work together to attain sustainable peace. President Ernest Bai Koroma succeeded in consolidating peace in a country which had suffered one of the world’s most brutal and destructive armed conflicts in recent memory.

At a joint press conference in Freetown on 5 March 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “Sierra Leone represents one of the world’s most successful cases of post-conflict recovery, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.”

By the time President Koroma left office in 2018, the International Peace Index ranked Sierra Leone as the most peaceful country in West Africa and one of the most peaceful in Africa.

During the administration’s time of economic growth and change, the country was devastated by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in early 2014. Sierra Leone was the hardest hit country but overcame the deadly disease through President Koroma’s steady leadership and by cooperation with neighboring nations and international aid organizations to fight the disease. The World Health Organization declared Sierra Leone was Ebola-free in March 2016.
Koroma states, “We had a projected growth of 13.2 percent before the epidemic broke out, and we were considered one of the most transformed countries in terms of governance. We have conducted free and fair elections, we have strengthened our institutions, we are fighting against corruption, we are a religiously-tolerant country, and we have been reported to be the most peaceful country in West Africa.”

President Bio implores security agencies in Sierra Leone to collaborate for effective security services

President Julius Maada has met with Heads of the various security agencies in the country to encourage inter-agency collaboration in the provision of effective security services to the nation. 

The president said one of the main challenges the country’s security sector had faced was the lack of proper coordination among the different security agencies, noting that if they were to provide effective services there should be a synergy among them.

He however commended the various forces for their patriotic services to the nation, adding that despite the difficult nature of their jobs, they had always stood the test of time, even continued to do so with the meagre salaries they get.

“As a Government we appreciate what you do, every day, to ensure that there is peace and stability in our country. By taking up the uniforms, it means you have a difficult choice to serve this country. So, we are grateful for that.

“Most of the times we have had problems with the lack of synergy between and among the various forces, which is not helpful for the country. We know that quiet conflicts are bound to happen but we must see the need to work together for a common goal. No one can do it alone. So, we need collective efforts,” he urged.

He emphasised that he was satisfied with the progress made so far in the eight months of the new government, especially in rebranding the image of the nation on the international scene. He said before now people had negative perceptions about the country, but expressed hope that that was fast changing because of the kind of leadership he was providing.

“I have promised and will continue to provide the quality leadership we need to move this nation forward. The perception out there is beginning to change. When they talk about serious nations now, we are being mentioned as one of them, which is a very good start that we all can collectively build on.

“As the Leader, I want to inspire you all to make your own contributions in making our country great again. Today is for you and I want to say thanks to you all for your service to our nation,” he assured and thanked the First Lady for making the evenning event a success.