Salone News

Norman Was Against Berewa

8 February 2006 at 04:51 | 417 views

Commentary

By Alfred Munda SamForay

Chief Sam Hinga Norman today concluded his second and final week of testimony before the so-called Special Court for Sierra Leone. Led in evidence by Counsel for Dr. Alieu Kondewa, Charles Francis Margai, Norman left no douubt that it was his friend and Commander-in-Chief, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, who set the stage for Norman’s arrest and detention on 10 March, 2003.

Based on what we are able to gather from Chief Norman’s testimony, President Kabbah made sure prior to Norman’s arrest, that Norman was present in his office before a convoy of police vehicles arrived to place him under arrest. The repeated denials of collusion between the court and the government and Kabbah in particular notwithstanding, it is now abundantly clear that the President and the court worked hand-in-hand to arrest and humiliate Mr. Norman for Kabbah’s political objectives.

The motive, based on Mr. Norman’s testimony, was that Kabbah was fully intent on removing both Norman and former Vice President, Dr. Albert Joe Demby, from the political scene prior to the 2007 election. Norman, we are told, was vehemently opposed to the President replacing Demby with heir apparent, Solomon Berewa. Chief Norman seemed to intimate that the 1997 coup and other military endeavours were clearly manipulated by Kabbah in order to place both Norman and Demby in harm’s way. One recalls that Norman was attacked by the AFRC in June 1994 while Regent Chief of Jaiama-Bongor and presumed killed by the rebels. His home town of Mongere in the Valunia Chiefdom was virtually wiped off the map. Demby’s home town of Gerehun in the Baoma Chiefdom north of Bo was similarly demolished, and sadly enough, Dr. Demby’s father, Paramount Chief Albert Demby, was assassinated in front of his wives and children by the rebels. Following his appointment as regent Chief by the NPRC, Norman and Demby agreed to organize the Kamajors which later joined with other regional militias to form the Civil Defence Force.

After dropping Demby from the presidential ticket in 2002, Kabbah apparently still considered Norman the major obstacle to Berewa’s succession. The constant dissension and bickering between Kabbah and Norman during the war resulted in thousands of lives lost in Tongo, Bo and Freetown as a result of Kabbah’s refusal to arm the CDF to defend those areas for fear that Norman would use those weapons to overthrow Kabbah’s government. Kabbah’s futile attempts to get rid of Norman first by trying to send him to Nigeria as High Commissioner against Norman’s will, then to replace him as National Coordinator of the CDF in 1999 are part of the greatest targedies of the rivalry between these two men.

Despite the characterization of the UN-backed tribunal as independent and non-political, no one with any objective integrity will now doubt that what this trial is about - a political charade orchestrated by Mr. Kabbah to level the playing field for his annointed successor. The court’s bending over backwards to accommodate Kabbah’s ill-advised refusal to appear as a witness for the defence places the court at the center of Sierra Leone’s corrupt and disfunctional politics.

Following Chief Norman’s testimony today, former UK High Commissioner, Kumrabai Peter Penfold, takes the witness stand on Wednesday as Defence Witness No.2. Until the issue regarding so-called subpoena ad testificandum requiring the President to testify is resolved, former VP, Albert Joe Demby, will follow Peter Penfold as defence Witness No. 3.

Photo: Chief Hinga Norman.

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