The existence of a fake fencing association inorder to illegally secure visas for people to travel abroad after paying a fee has been exposed.
According to our investigations, the fake fencing association was formed in 2001 without the knowledge of the National Olympic Committee (NOC).
In 2003 some 32 Sierra Leoneans went to Guinea to obtain visas to represent Sierra Leone in Malaysia in a fencing competition. Each of these Sierra Leoneans was issued the visa after paying one hundred and twenty thousand Leones as visa fee.
Back home, only 25 of them could afford the money for their air tickets. The 25 left, allegedly for Malaysia via the UK and have never returned while the remaining 7 who were not able to afford the air tickets are still in the country.
One of the seven who did not go to Malaysia spoke to Awoko under condition of anonymity and even allowed Awoko to photocopy the visa issued in Guinea in 2003.(pictured)
In an intercepted correspondence written in November by one Ibrahim Bangura a Sierra Leonean who was in jail in Belgium for trafficking Sierra Leoneans on the pretext of representing Sierra Leone in Sporting competitions but who is now free and lives in England, the issue of the fake fencing association was laid bare.
The correspondence reads:- “According to what we discussed earlier this morning, I write to confirm the following notice to the International Fencing Federation pertaining the changes of our contact address i.e all correspondences with the association of fencing in Sierra Leone to and fro should be forwarded to the secretariat in care of Mr Victor Hasting-Spaine Secretary General.
I have notified the International Fencing federation that the above name is the custodian of all correspondence of the association. It is vital that you communicate and forward all relevant documents to the President for ratification.
You mentioned about malpractices that occurred on the 2nd November 2007 relating to an application for entry visas to Germany which was intercepted by you and my name was quoted in the correspondence.
Be informed that I had nothing to do with any of such practice and do not wish to carry it out in the future, I stand for our belief because we registered fencing to the international fencing federation with a consensus.
I stepped in when I realized that Joseph Kaneka Kanu and his girl friend’s names were included in our fencing federation as the representatives from Sierra Leone to attend the congress in Madrid, Spain which I am now attending.
I will update the FIE about the present development and the situation in the country in due course. The International Fencing Federation is requesting the following from us:-
*Letter of our Ministry and NOC to confirm our legitimacy.
*Letter from our NOC to apply for an Olympic Solidarity Course which will be granted if an application is submitted.
In another intercepted correspondence written on the Ministry’s letterhead, and sent to the International Fencing Federation by the Director of Sports dated April 22, 2008, it reads “The Ministry of Sports and the National Olympic Committee of Sierra Leone would like to notify that Mr Ibrahim Bangura is the President and Mr Victor Hastings-Spaine is the General Secretary of the Sierra Leone Fencing Association.”
However, when Awoko Sports desk contacted Victor Hasting-Spaine about the said Association he said that he does not know anything about the existence of the fencing association. He stated that when he received a correspondence from one Ibrahim Bangura as the president naming him as the Secretary General of the association, it did not go down well with him.
Therefore Victor Hastings-Spaine said he decided that he will not take the matter lightly as this is the usual behaviour of some members of Sports Council, and so he went immediately to inform the Deputy Minister of Education Youth and Sports Dr Algassimu Jah who is in charge of sports about the action he intends to take on the matter. Mr Hastings-Spaine said the Deputy Minister advised him to do that in writing.
During last month, the International Fencing Federation wrote a letter to the National Olympic Committee (NOC) requesting to know about the Fencing Association in Sierra Leone. An NOC member who spoke to Awoko under condition of anonymity say it was a shock to the NOC executive, and they wasted no time in informing the Minister of Sports. Later they wrote a letter to the International Fencing Association informing them that they do not have any such sporting association in Sierra Leone.
The Director of Sports Saidu Mansaray also acted very fast and sent another letter backing the letter sent by the NOC president to the International Fencing Federation on the topic; Sierra Leone Fencing Association.
The letter reads; “I have received copy of correspondence on the above subject dated May 6th 2008 and attachment there to (Addressee Natalie Rodriguez M.H)
I wish to state categorically that I did not issue the letter under reference date 22nd April 2008 and have no knowledge about its contents. The discrepancies in the letter namely – Ministry of Youth and Sports (Sports Division); the file reference No MYS/9876/08 are totally inconsistent with my office address and official file references. The email address [email protected] is neither our official email address nor my personal email address. The letter written in my name and office is therefore totally false and criminal to all extents. Finally I wish to assure you that my office will never associate the National Olympic Committee (NOC) or use its name in my correspondence without the expressed permission or clearance of the National Olympic Committee (NOC). I will therefore be grateful if you inform all those concerned accordingly. The matter currently is on investigation.