In My Own Words
By Karamoh Kabba
I must hasten to state that efforts by many people including myself to package the former Vice President, Chief Alhaji Samuel Samsumana for
the next flagbearer of the All Peoples Congress (APC) were failed
attempts. I must also admit that Samsumana was friend to almost all
the highly politically charged young and old members of the Congress, and that by the turn of his first term as VP, that support base shrank to the point that he could gather them in his corridor.
And this piece is a recount of my insistent effort in salvaging the
impossibility of achieving a kingmaker legacy through Samsumana. For
some unsuspecting audiences especially members of the scattered Kono diaspora populations around the world and friends and family of the
former VP in Kono and elsewhere, my letter of complaint which led to
his expulsion and subsequent sacking was distasteful. This is simply
because, like me, Samsumana hails from the Kono district and therefore my action brought about shock waves in them.
But for me, compelled by Samsumana’s array of ill-advised actions over
the years, I refused to be parochial in my reasoning after working
hard and bending over backwards with the hope that Samsumana was the
beacon of hope for us [Kono people]. Apparently, I had bet on the wrong horse; he actually dashed our hopes and aspirations – he was simply unintelligible and a very slow horse who was hell-bent on
building a parallel paternalistic little government alongside his boss’ administration with which I would become fed-up to the back teeth.
Upon helping with the difficult task of rendering him suitable for
reappointment as running mate to H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma and winning the 2012 elections, I had my last one-on-one meeting with Samsumana at
about 2 a.m. in a casual atmosphere; both of us were seated outside
his complex on a high slab where I offered the following cosmological
analogy of leadership:
“Leadership on earth is like in the kingdom of heaven. In heaven, God
is the leader who oversees a leadership of angels, prophets, human
beings and all other living things in which Lucifer was the most
favoured angel next to God. But Lucifer chose to challenge and disobey
God and God casted Lucifer out of His kingdom and forbids us from following his ways lest we will not be welcome in the kingdom of heaven, ” and left that night.
That meeting was after my instrumental effort in helping to salvage
many national and international scandals Samsumana had attracted and some more foolish confrontations with the President especially in Kono over choice of leadership in the district.
Every attentive politician was pretty much aware of the uphill battle
from within the APC we fought and won to accord Samsumana the running
mate status in 2012. There were claims of financial malpractices, for
instance; between Samsumana and his diamond-mining partners; the
infamous timber-gate scandal and many more issues including the great
dislike for him from party stalwarts spurred by his annoying, arrogant
and vindictive dispositions over the years.
It suffices to state that as the National Coordinator of the Special
Presidential Publicity Committee (SPPC) then, commonly called Command Structure, which was formed during the campaign and charged with the responsibility of projecting the image of the President and debunking attacks on him, I was privy to many of these issues and indeed, I utilized my position then to take firm and rather biased positions to
protect the former VP.
For those who don’t know, I was in charge of organizing the hallmark
press conference that rolled back all the negative perspectives very powerful national and international opinion leaders held against the
former VP then.
I could recall vividly that in the heat of the scandals during the
campaign, the President asked Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, Hon
Alhaji Alpha Kanu who were co-chairmen of the SPPC and myself to meet
the former VP, debrief him and advise. We went to his house and
debriefed him as instructed and I would become very instrumental in
convincing Hon. I.B. Kargbo and Hon. Alpha Kanu that the situation
could be salvaged.
We were all supposed to go to the President to advise him but I opted
out and returned to the former VP to solicit more information. His body language during the debriefing spoke louder than his voice did.
He was uncomfortable with talking to us. Indeed after I admonished him
to talk to me, he did, backed by documents I would use as informed
background information to defend him.
And indeed, at the eleventh hour in the elections 2012, H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma cleverly dragged all the Party stalwarts, all of whom were openly against Samsumana, on the brink and cliffhanging over the most difficult running mate impasse in the history of the Congress just to carry Samsumana against all the existing odds including major
international partners disdain of him. The President would end the
impasse by forcing everybody into a no-option situation. At the end of the day, it was members of the Congress who would advise him to carry Samsumana as running mate.
I will therefore endeavour to highlight some of the former VP’s vices
and follies I was privy to before and after the 2012 elections:
And of course in the sphere of power politics, there is always the
constant struggle for political space between the governing and the
opposition parties and Samsumana was constantly in disagreement and in
competition with his own party, his President and the political leadership of Kono district.
Just after his reappointment as running mate, the man who the President was just in a quandary of protecting as running mate and saving his relationship with core team players of his support base, in
a tremendous effort of holding the epicentre together from collapsing,
Samsumana resumed his sustained anti-party activities.
Assuming the usual parochial position, Samsumana supported his uncle in an election for a district paramount chiefs’ parliamentary
representative in Kono in a surreptitiously orchestrated insurrection,
thinking that it will go unnoticed. He used his authority unduly to
arm-twist the chiefs’ decision to conduct an election by asking the
opponent of his uncle for the position to step down on the pretext of
working in the interest of the President. But somehow, information
filtered to Freetown and the former VP was instructed to undo his
negotiation and allow the candidates to go into an election. He would
come up with a plan ‘B’ to win the election by any means necessary. He
sent his known agents on the ground to implement the plan.
To protect him, I left for Kono and challenged his agents that the
former VP did not send them, and that they are imposters and
pretenders with ill-motivated agenda to undermine the relationship
between the former VP and the President. I encouraged the chiefs to
conduct the election and that the VP did not send any one to campaign
for any one. While on the ground, one of his surrogates in a full
demonstration of folly called me to tell me that the former VP wanted
me out of the campaign. I told him that I was there to ensure that the
election is conducted.
After the election, I came to the former VP and reported that the
election went on against the will of those who went to Kono to
misrepresent him. Boy, you could see the face he wore in a great
effort to cover-up his genuine disdain for my action. Nevertheless, I
sent a text message to the President that “the VP sent me to Kono to
ensure that the election was conducted and that people were telling
big lies about the VP”.
But the former VP’s effort of attempting to develop a parallel support
base was relentless. He even extended it to youth leadership elections
by challenging the APC District Youth League’s choice of candidates in
Kono and did likewise in paramount chief elections.
My greatest challenge in all of this was Madam Diana Konomanyi who for many good reasons bore a great disdain for the former VP. I was in a
constant quandary of balancing relationship between the former VP and Madam Diana.
Her premonition that I will regret my relationship with the former VP was without reservation and would come to past.
Every encounter with Madam Diana ended up in frustration, shouting and screaming at me up to calling me “an educated fool”. But I took it all in good faith because I developed respect for her and her works in
Kono. I could understand her frustration; she had noticed my hard work
and sincerity of purpose and could not rationalize my insistence on
the former VP. She had had her own experience with the man she went
all out to help, who would turn against her suddenly thereafter.
In a one-on-one discussion with the former VP, I advised that Madam Diana should be treated with respect and care. I likened her to a
broken wing black bird who should be held with cupped hands. But the
known sycophants of the former VP were always there to dismiss Madam
Diana and called her derogatory names with chauvinist inflection.
The former VP’s main weapon of intimidation of his political opponents
was orchestrated youth violence. Many highly placed APC politicians
who dared into Kono were attacked by Samsumana’s network of youth cells headed by the infamous Adamu. In that arrangement, there was the paradoxical Central Youth Development Organization (CYDO). There was Gun Point Youth whose members would later breakaway to help with my investigation, there was 555 Sport Youth; there was Balance Youth and Long Bench Youth. On the fringes of these latter four cells were about
25 subsets of youth cells per cell all supported by the former VP and
commanded by Adamu of CYDO and his lieutenants. That was the youth network that attacked the then Hon. Minister of Internal Affairs, Musa
Tarawally; the then Hon. Minister of Mineral Resources and Political
Affairs, Alpha Abubakarr Kanu; the Hon. Minister of Mineral Resources,
Minkhailu Mansaray; the Hon. Minister of Education, Minkhailu Bah; and the APC Kono District Chairman etc.
As Director of Political Affairs in the Ministry of Mineral Resources
and Political Affairs then, I was privy to sustained attacks on Hon.
Alpha Kanu by members of these youth cells over mining concessions and
the No. 11 tailings when he was the Minister. The former VP’s agents
set up what seemed like a parallel mineral resources ministry, which
was constantly in confrontation with the position of the minister in
In the case of Hon, Minkhailu Mansaray, the VP was not pleased with
the fact that the Mineral Resources Minister would respond to a Koidu
Holdings demonstration. He activated his youth cells and the Minister
was placed under siege for hours just to prove that he was the only
authority with the political impetus to respond to demonstration in
his ‘so-called’ backyard in Kono district. He would be flown to Kono
in a hired helicopter to rescue the Minister. The former VP would
pretentiously ask both youths, young and old people as well as chiefs
to sit down on the floor so he could address them for the indignation
they had brought upon him. He would condemn the demonstration with a
The attack on Hon. Musa Tarawally was during a visit to Kono in honour
of an invitation extended to him by Madam Diana to attend a funeral.
Minister Tarawally was perceived to be eyeing the running mate
position for 2012 and thus placed on the former VP’s list of perceived
political opponents. Not too long ago, the same youth cells attacked
Hon. Minkhailu Bah in the company of Madam Diana because he went to
Kono to turn the sod for the construction of a polytechnic institution. Samsumana was notorious for unduly using his influence
and authority as the Chairman of the Police Council to get his youths
off the hook each time they are arrested for violence.
This was how members of the same youth cells would rage a sustained
attack on a philanthropist woman, Madam Phebian Fengai, who returned
from the United State with a project to construct a health centre in Kono district not too far from the former VP’s compound in Koidu New
Sembehun. According to the former VP, yet in another demonstration of
folly, “the clinic would attract everyday people around his house”. As
Chairman of the Police Council, instead of utilizing the Sierra Leone
Police, Samsumana camped and nursed youths in his compound; fed them and provided money for badly brewed alcohol and marijuana for their consumption liken to Napoleon’s puppies in George Orwell’s Animal Farm to rage sustained attack on the woman and her construction workers on
the backdrop that the woman had acquired all the necessary government documents from designated authorities and ministries for her construction project of the health centre.
Video clips show Adamu and his boys sharing and wielding machetes and
totting short guns in the former VP’s compound from where they came
out to attack the woman and her construction workers.
These sustained attacks came to a head during one of my frequent
visits to Kono on the 16th of March 2014. Samsumana’s youths attacked and wounded two construction workers with machetes and mobilized with crudely prepared fire and petrol bombs to torch the woman’s house
while she was inside there. The police who were under duress from the former VP did nothing to stop the attacks on the woman and her workers. I intervened, utilizing the OSD officers I had for my personal protection. I cordoned off the perimeter of the house,
removed the woman and whisked her to safety to Freetown that night.
I discovered that majority of the police officers worked more in the
interest of Samsumana than the Sierra Leone Police. He had used undue power to enrol them into the police force over the years. The Inspector General of Police (IGP) founded the investigation and took
About five months ago, the former VP called a global telephone
conference of Kono people and explained to his audience that “I could
not afford even a glass of water, a cup of rice or even a cup of sugar
to offer my people in Kono but to bring upon them trouble”, and that I
“prepared the list to arrest Kono people which included his sister”
and some many more derogatory remarks about the President and the Party.
This was after the infamous Adamu Ebola Riot in Kono. Before that,
while Ebola was raging everywhere else, Kono leadership had held Ebola infection numbers to 33 only, which would spike suddenly after the riot. Again, I responded to quell the riot and avoid further rioting, which was an anathema to the former VP.
For me, the former VP had the authority to call me in his office if I
had gone wrong in the dispensation of my duty and responsibility as
deputy minister but he instead chose to go public thereby exposing me to a threat of violence or violence especially that he was in control
of a network of violent youth cells. And, in all of this, there is only one authority left to complain a powerful authority such as the former VP – the President, Leader and Chairman of the Party.
And so I wrote a letter of complaint to the Leader and Chairman of the
Congress who in turn set up a committee to investigate the
allegations. In proving that Samsumana’s dangerous youth gangs in Kono are a threat to my life, I presented all the physical evidence in my
possession under oath. Witnesses were called to corroborate my
submission and the former VP was found guilty of perverting the youth and promoting youth violence as well as supporting youth cells to
attack his perceived political opponents, all tantamount to gross
misconduct and anti-party activities.
Deputy Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Government of Sierra Leone
With our hurricane lamps, who says we cannot light asphalt jungles
despite the high winds? “Then right opinion is not a wit inferior to
Publications: ‘Morquee’, ‘Lion Mountain’, ‘A Mother’s Saga’.
Short Stories and Articles: Half a Pot Full, The Ring, Red Apple and many more.