A disgruntled mob, alleging to be redundant soldiers who were not given their benefits after demobilisation from the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Force (RSLAF), has asked to be readmitted into the army or given their benefits.
The leader of the group, Lt Thomas Amara Domawa who joined the army in 1999, explained that, “when we entered the army, the International Military Assistant Training Team (IMATT) officers told us that they had come to reform the force to a standard which would be good for the people of Sierra Leone.”
He added that, “it was not a lone venture so we joined the army but the realities came to light as the army, according to the TRC, was found to be one of the most corrupt institutions.”
Some of us, he explained, “took that venture to make sure that we sensitized military personnel about their service to the nation – loyalty to the people of Sierra Leone and not to an individual”.
“I was arrested on the grounds that I published an article alleging that the Defence Ministry is corrupt. For that letter I was incarcerated in a guardroom, where I later escaped and ran to UNAMSIL where I was later handed over to the then deputy minister of defence, Joe Blell,” he explained.
The worried solider said, “after another publication with Awoko warning the government, that soldiers were disgruntled; I was again arrested, put in jail together with my wife and six year-old son. That was in May 5 last year.”
He explained that the dissatisfied pack had met with senior authorities with regards to the issues highlighted.
Lt Domawa averred that, “I have thousands of documentary evidence to prove these allegations I have levied against the Defence Ministry are factual.”
“In fact, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) knows about this case. I was arrested for treason after Awoko’s publications where I warned the government that soldiers are disgruntled.”
It was surprising, he accentuated, “when the then minister of defence was interviewed, he denied arresting me.”
The peeved solider pointed out that they provided security for the president during the campaign, but “now we are dumped by senior military officers who are telling politicians’ tales about us. We want them to take us to court if they are aware that what we are doing is wrong,” he stressed.
“Unless we identify the root of instability and tend to amend them otherwise we would always remain in an adversary situation where corruption has taken over the army and until that one is remedied other things done will never been done,” he exclaimed.
“I was neither dismissed nor retired; I was unlawfully incarcerated and tortured,” he cried.
Stressing their demands, he said, “I want the government to call up these redundant cases if these guys are really sure that they have the legal authority in dismissing us from the service. Let us prove it before the court or let them pay the benefit of those who do not want to serve in the army again. Those who deserve to serve the army must be restored that is our demand and in accomplishing this demand we will go further and further.”
Reacting to the allegations levied against the defence ministry, Brigadier Nelson Williams, the deputy Chief of Defence and military spokesman of the RSLAF said the government, the defence ministry and the RSLAF were aware of the fact that they had personnel “which it is our duty to seek their welfare.”
He denied allegations that there were military personnel who were not given their due benefits after demobilization. “I don’t think that there is anyone who has been relieved of duty without salary,” pointing out that in any case of this nature, the military personnel might have “AWOLed”. “All those who have been redundant have been paid; in fact we organized training for them. We respect their service to the nation, we can’t treat them like that at all,” Brigadier Nelson Williams disclosed.
By Ophaniel Gooding