The deputy defence minister, Joe C. Blell, yesterday debunked widespread rumours that Sierra Leoneans were being attacked and even killed as a result of the helicopter crash at the Freetown International Airport about a fortnight ago.
Debunking these claims, Joe Blell who was a member of the delegation that accompanied the mortal remains of the Togolese said, “it’s rather unfortunate that most of the negative reports are coming from Sierra Leone.”
He went on, “not a single Sierra Leonean was attacked in Togo nor was anyone killed.”
Briefing the media at a press briefing at defence headquarters, Tower Hill in Freetown, he emphasized that, “the [Togolese] president was extremely grateful that we accompanied the corpses. Immediately we arrived, we drove from the airport unto the stadium.”
Joe Blell maintained that, “after the ceremony we went down with the [Togolese] president and met relatives whom we expressed our sympathy to for the loss of their loved ones”.
Commenting on another rumour of foreign troops coming in for the presidential and parliamentary elections, he asked: “why should we bring in foreign troops, did Sierra Leoneans go to Nigeria when they had their elections or where there any foreign troops in Nigeria when they had their elections?”
He stressed on, “it is rather unfortunate as it’s the same scenario that happens with the Togo incident,” noting that, “believe me it’s time for us as Sierra Leoneans, even if you do not like the government, this is our country let’s rally round the flag, and stop these negative reporting.”
Joe Blell lamented that he had never seen nationals of other countries parading such negative things about their countries, but would unite behind their flags to fight a just cause, rather than spreading wild unfounded rumours.