Peculiar things always happen in Sierra Leone, such as events repeating in the political circle. The historians will call it a cyclical history – like the uncomfortable date with the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
Significant political and football events have taken place for which an analysis and note taking is necessary – that of our managers of our national team, Leone Stars, and that of our Transport Ministers. What I would endeavor to do is to limit myself to each of the two.
When Bai Kabia left as manager of the Leone Stars, Paul Kamara, the managing editor of For Di People newspaper replaced him. At that time, Justice Tolla Thompson was the football association (FA) president. Kamara took the national team to Ghana and after that match, which the Stars lost, out of some cloudy match reports and some controversies between him and the FA president, he was to be replaced. But it seemed then Kamara knew what was coming, and he resigned before he could be fired.
Seeing the deep controversy, the former President Kabbah summoned the FA and Kamara to a meeting. It was said Kabbah prevailed on Kamara to withdraw his resignation letter but he asked to consult his wife on that issue.
It was after that meeting and when Kamara stepped down as team manager of the Leone Stars that the controversy between Kamara and Thompson heightened. There were series of publications on the constitutionality – and unconstitutionality – of an appeal court judge receiving any advantage on any other job. That series of publications but one, “Tiffy Tiffy Tolla,” landed him in court and he was eventually jailed for six months.
Unlike Paul Kamara, Hon. Momoh Pujeh, the present minority leader of the SLPP, was transport minister. Pujeh was and is a strong member of the SLPP and a political heavyweight in his district. He has the largest constituency and he received the largest votes in the last parliamentary elections. He is presently a two-term member of parliament.
Pujeh and his wife were arrested on the orders of the Anti-Corruption Commission and tried for alleged illegal mining of diamonds in a manner not befitting a government minister. He was tried at the magistrate court No 1A then presided by Claudia Taylor, now Justice Claudia Taylor.
After the trials and when the magistrate evoked him to say what he had to say, he told her he was asking for mercy, as he was not aware of what he was alleged to have committed. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment as he was told “ignorance of the law was no excuse.”
Pujeh appealed and he won it. His lawyer then was Eddie Turay, now the majority leader of government business in Parliament – keep in mind Pujeh is now the minority leader.
There were many sides to his story as some say he was politically edged together with Dr. Harry Will because former President Kabbah thought them to be a thorn in the flesh ahead of the Bo SLPP conventions.
The fact is like Paul Kamara, they were both tried and jailed although one went on to appeal and was released.
When Paul Kamara left as Team Manager, Nahim Kadi, the present FA president, took over. He too was removed when the national team lost a crucial home match. Some say he was a bad manager and that was why he was sacked. And when Momoh Pujeh was also edged, Dr. Prince Harding replaced him: Harding had a good relationship with the former president, but even though he was credited for opening up communications in the country, he saw the cabinet back door after a helicopter crash, in which some Togolese officials lost their lives. Harding too was arrested and detained on the allegations of taking a bribe from management of Paramount Airlines (whose helicopter crashed).
I understand the APC Government says they find no crime against the two civil servants.
The problems continued when Ahmed Sesay became Leone Stars team manager. Sesay was known to be very influential. He has not yet been sacked, nor has there been any statement about his arrest made by the SLFA – Sesay was arrested on allegations of conspiring with some people to forcefully land a plane loaded with cocaine at the only International Airport.
Transport Minister Kemoh Sesay, who coincidentally is Ahmed’s brother, is also being relieved from his duties; the reason being, to allow for the investigations on the cocaine scam not to be compromised.
Kemoh Sesay is APC and like Prince Harding (SLPP), both were (are) close to their presidents. They will also beat their chest that their presidents will not touch them. That was why when Prince Harding was removed from Mines Ministry, he was made Board Chairman and then again a minister, former President Kabbah knew asking Prince to step aside when the helicopter crash occurred will not have affected him because there were only days to the general elections and also Kabbah knew Prince was not going to be part of Solo B’s team if he’d won the elections.
Similarly, even though it was better late than never, there might have been some reluctance on President Koroma to relieve Kemoh Sesay of his duties. Though he is a trusted fellow of the president, Kemoh is quicker to make many enemies in the APC party than any other minister. Some alleged he had boasted to succeed President Koroma etc etc.
The fact is that like the SLPP was found to suffer from the jink of seven (7) which will continue to haunt them, the positions of Transport Minister and Team Manager seem to have a particular attraction to sackings, court cases and jail. Kemoh Sesay and Ahmed Sesay are the most recent casualties.
We wait to see the new Transport Minister and whether any sacking or circumstantial resignation awaits him or the new team manager of Leone Stars.
By Ishmael Bayoh