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The killing of Bambay Kamara and others by the NPRC

By  | 5 June 2010 at 02:45 | 4189 views

Opinion

I’m at a loss to read a press release from the opposition SLPP denouncing the proposed setting up of a Commission of Inquiry to unveil the truth surrounding the deaths of 29 harmless and unarmed citizens of Sierra Leone in 1992.

At a loss because the proposed inquiry is not for the SLPP but for the former military government called the National Provisional Ruling Council, headed by Captain (Rtd) Valentine Strasser and later Brigadier (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio.

Why should a sympathiser cry more than the bereaved, is the question I would like to ask. Is it because of the likes of John Benjamin, Maada Bio, Tom Nyuma, John Karimu etc. who were key players in the NPRC, but have now metamorphosed as ‘SLPPians’ ? Should the whole therefore be seen as a political witch hunt? I beg to differ, except if the critics are of the firm conviction that the NPRC was the SLPP in disguise.

If there is any one person who had been yearning and praying fervently for such a day to come during his lifetime, that person is me, Chernor Ojuku Sesay. Why, you may ask?

Firstly, one of the murdered victims, Colonel James Yayah Kanu was my paternal uncle from Koya/Masimera chiefdoms. He was desperate for me to join the army as a cadet officer at the completion of my Sixth Form from the St. Francis Secondary School in Makeni, but my mother was against the idea since I am her only child. My father sat on the fence, neutral. I used to spend the summer holidays with the late Yayah Kanu especially when he was at the Mama Beach Garrison, along the Peninsular road. We were very intimate.

Secondly, the other NPRC victim, James Bambay Kamara, former Inspector General of Police was another close friend of mine. No matter what other people may say about him, the fact remains that Bambay Kamara happens to be one of the most generous and philanthropic individuals I’ve ever come across. He was not only generous, but very hard working, being always the first to report for duty at the police HQ and the last to leave. He was a friend of most journalists in the country, taking us to his Mafonikay farm every weekend.

Thirdly and most important of all, I happened to be the first Sierra Leonean journalist to incur the wrath and ruthlessness of the NPRC. David Tam-Baryoh of the Punch newspaper and Citizen Radio fame is a living testimony. The two of us were working together when I was editing The Pool newspaper. He was my deputy. Our newspaper was the only newspaper in Freetown at the time to unreservedly and vehemently condemn those summary executions. We did not only report the summary executions which the NPRC carried out with no form of trial, but backed the story with fearless commentaries from David Tam-Baryoh, Idrissa Atomic Pen Conteh and Yours Truly.

Immediately the paper hit the streets, the then Second-in-Command, the late Solomon Anthony James Musa (SAJ) released his soldiers (or thugs in uniform) to arrest me. I was picked up from my 1 Short Street office in the morning hours of December 4th, 1992, bundled and thrown into a waiting military truck like a bag of charcoal, off to the office of SAJ Musa at Tower Hill.

At SAJ Musa’s office, I received the beating of my life from SAJ himself, an excruciating torture not worth recounting. After beating me to his satisfaction, he instructed the then head of the CID, Teddy Williams, who was present at SAJ’s office when the beating was going on, “to lock me up at one of those filthy CID cells until you get further instructions from me." Teddy Williams did just that.

I spent a week at the filthy CID cells and on December 11th, 1992 was transferred from CID to the Remand section at the Pademba Road prisons. I was locked up, isolated, in a cell for another week. I was not allowed to take a bath all this while and only got relief thanks to the tireless efforts of the then German Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Karl Prinz, who at the time risked his life to checkmate the human rights excesses of the NPRC. Though he secured my release, he was eventually told to leave the country as persona non grata. He sadly left Sierra Leone and the abuses continue unabated.

If the SLPP and their cohorts could cry for the blood of all those they tagged as AFRC "collaborators", executed 24 innocent soldiers, jailed over two dozen respectable citizens of Sierra Leone, some for merely staying behind due to inadequate financial status, if the Human Rights bodies and the United Nations could damn the Lome Peace Accord and Bishop Humper’s TRC report to set up the Special Court, what is wrong with family members of Yayah Kanu, Bambay Kamara and others asking the government to set up a Commission of Inquiry for us to know why our relatives were brutally murdered and by who, why and where were they buried? We need those answers. Our hearts will ever remain bleeding if we fail to know the truth. We had no power to retaliate at the time and we cannot now. We are ready to forgive but only after knowing the perpetrators of those heinous crimes.

The SLPP press release was preposterous to say the least. The executions of Sorie Forna, Francis Minah, GMT Kaikai which they mentioned in their release was sanctioned by a competent court of law, no matter how flawed the trials might be. The accused persons were represented by defence lawyers in an open court. Was that the case for Bambay Kamara and the 28 others?
What is good for the goose must also be good for the gander. We need the truth. Let the Bishop Humpers wait for the pulpit and deliver their sermons, not this time, Sir.

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