There was more drama last weekend and yesterday in the saga of Sierra Leone’s Vice-President, Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana .
It must be recalled that on Friday March 6, the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC ) announced that it had expelled Vice-President Sumana from the party for allegedly sowing discord within the party, orchestrating attacks on government officials visiting his home district, Kono, forming a party, submitting fake academic credentials and impersonating Islam for political reasons.
THE VP’S COMPOUND LAST SATURDAY AFTER UMARU FOFANA REPORTED TO THE BBC THAT THE VP TOLD HIM HE HAD FLED HIS HOME BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN SURROUNDED BY TROOPS : WHERE ARE THE TROOPS ?
Since the announcement, the social media, online forums and newspapers have been buzzing with angry verbal exchanges between supporters of the government and the VP on one side and on the other side between APC supporters who did not support the action and APC members fully in support of it. The opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ), though encumbered by its own serious and deep internal frictions, ( accentuated last week by the resignation from his UN job of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella to challenge former junta leader Maada Bio and other contenders in what would be a very contentious and chaotic fight for the SLPP flabearership for the 2018 Presidential elections ) joined the drama on the side of the expelled Vice-President, with one of the party’s spin masters , Umaru Fofana , the BBC Correspondent in Freetown , serving as unofficial press attache for the VP and sending information to the international media to make President Ernest Koroma and the government appear abrasive , dictatorial, incapable of handling the VP saga well and having taken undue advantage of the VP .
ONE OF THE PHOTOS PASSED OFF AS THE VP BEING IN A SECRET LOCATION : HE HAS CONFESSED HE HAD NEVER LEFT HIS HOUSE , SO DID HIS MEDIA HANDLERS TRY TO DECEIVE THE NATION AND THE WORLD OR IS THERE SOMETHING WE DO NOT KNOW ?
The media feeding frenzy seemed to reach a head over the weekend when Umaru Fofana reported to the BBC that the VP, Alhaji Sam Sumana , had fled his official residence at Leicester in Freetown and gone into hiding ,after troops allegedly surrounded his house. Mr. Fofana, who said he spoke to the VP, reported that the VP had asked the U.S. Embassy for asylum as he feared for his life . Another SLPP Journalist, Mr. Sorie Fofanah of the GLOBAL TIMES newspaper , also made the same allegations and posted on social media photos of himself and the VP , allegedly in a secret location. One of the pictures also showed a harried-looking VP, wearing a T-shirt , while another showed him seemingly near tears as he made a phone call, with the VP and his wife, Khadija seen in the other photo.
THE VP WAS EVEN MADE TO BE SEEN BY THE WORLD UNDERGOING AN UNDIGNIFIED EXPERIENCE OF EATING WHAT LOOKED LIKE “COOKERY” IN HIS ALLEGED SECRET LOCATION, BUT WAS THIS DONE BY HIS SPIN MASTERS TO CREATE SYMPATHY FOR HIM ?
True to what is now shaping up to be a spectacular media stunt , the pictures and the reports stirred up supporters of the VP in the social media and online forums and they came out swinging with bitter accusations that the government could not even wait for legal or parliamentary options and was planning to kill the VP. The unsuspecting international media also seemingly fell for the hype and Sierra Leone made international news all weekend, with Reuters, the AFP, VOA, CNN , THE BBC, the Associated Press ( AP) all carrying the Umaru Fofana crafted report , with additions and variations as should be expected.
KHADIA AND THE VP AT THEIR “SECRET LOCATION ” : WAS THIS POOR WOMAN DRAGGED INTO A MEDIA STUNT ?
The Government responded with separate interviews with the BBC by Information Minister, Hon. Alpha Kanu and Outreach Coordinator Mr. Abdulai Bayraytay , debunking the allegations . The government said that all that had happened was rotation of the guards at the VP’s residence and beefing up his security to reinforce the quarantine the VP had imposed on himself almost three weeks ago, after one of his security officers died of Ebola. The government said the security of the VP was FULLY ensured .
VP REMONSTRATING TO SOMEBODY AT HIS SO-CALLED “SECRET LOCATION” : WHO ? SORIE FOFANA ?
I met VP Sam Sumana immediately after he escaped from his private residence this morning. He appeared very worried about his personal security and d security of his wife and other family members. I did an exclusive interview with him. What a scoop that was
While the war of words between government supporters and VP’s supporters was raging online and elsewhere , with some pranksters even posting that the VP had already reached neighbouring Guinea, came the shockers yesterday ! ! !
Stunning news hit the nation from the horse’s own mouth ( The VP ) that the VP had in fact not stepped a limb out of his home after all . Shock reigned supreme as the VP himself blasted BBC reporter Umaru Fofana for lying that he had fled his home and requested asylum from the U.S. Embassy. The cards of lies crumbled so fast it looked like they had been built on quicksand. All the information blitz about the VP fleeing his home for a secret place of refuge and applying for asylum from the U.S. Embassy were lies, according to Hon. Sam Sumana himself . VP Sam Sumana himself told SLBS TV : “Contrary to what was reported, I never left my house! I have been here quietly all along. Contrary to what was reported on the BBC, I never asked the U.S. Embassy for asylum . How can I do that when I am the sitting Vice President ? “. To everybody’s dismay, the VP further told national TV that he had never left his house .
SAM SUMANA WITH A WHIMSICAL GRIN AFTER MEETING WITH POLITICAL PARTY REPRESENTATIVES :
He made these startling revelations to members of 10 political parties who had gone to his residence to seek an amicable solution to the crisis. It was learnt by this paper that the former Vice-President, Mr. Solomon Berewa , had also met with the VP last Friday . He was quoted as telling Radio FM 98.1 yesterday that during the meeting the VP had agreed to resign but he later reneged on his promise.
Above all the din of the verbal fray on social media and locally and internationally, this reposte came as a blinding shock to the nation. It quickly provoked daunting questions. The questions that are exercising the minds of people this minute are Is this drama real ? What are we being treated to ? Did Umaru Fofana, a known antagonist of the ruling Government, place his credibility on the line by putting words in the VP’s mouth ? But hold your breath and wait a minute . Was it not the VP himself that was heard on BBC repeating what Umaru Fofana had earlier reported ? How can he reconcile the fact that he too gave a press interview and said it ? Why did Sorie Fofana of Global Times put his credibility on the line by writing on his Facebook page that he had met the VP shortly after he fled his private residence ? Why did Sorie Fofana pass off the photos as having been taken at a secret location when the TORCHLIGHT newspaper is now exclusively reporting that the VP had been in his basement all along and had not left his house ? SOMEBODY IS DEFINITELY NOT TALKING THE TRUTH .
If those pictures were taken at the VP’s basement, what was Fofana doing ? Trying to deceive the public ? If the VP was being lied on that he did not leave his home and had not applied for an asylum, why did he wait for 72 hours to refute the report , well after the international media had broadcast the news all over the world for three days ? The whole saga seems to be effectively stage-managed , but between the VP and Umaru Fofana and Sorie Fofana, who was really lying to the world ? If Umaru and Sorie lied on the VP, can these two gentlemen do justice to the VP by apologizing to him and also save their journalism career by apologizing to the nation and the world ? If at the same time, these men reported exactly what the VP had told them, can the VP help them save their career by owning up and apologizing to them for maligning their names ? Can the VP apologize to the nation for deceiving all of us ?
But again, confusion reigns on all fronts : How do we account for the audios of the VP talking to the BBC ? How do we reconcile Sorie Fofana’s report on his Facebook page that he had met the VP at a secret location “after he escaped from his private residence this morning” ?
Sierra Leone should realize the potential danger of spreading untrue, explosive information capable of spreading alarm, disaffection, fear , contempt for government and disturbing the peace of the nation . As a newspaper, we have been highlighting the way that social media are being misused by Sierra Leoneans not only to create panic and disorder at home but damaging the good name of the country and the government internationally. Our people have a tendency of abusing everything to the detriment of the country. We have to stop these gimmicks in the interest of peace.
This newspaper believes that the Government should fully investigate the media hype of the weekend with a view to identifying who really lied and tried to deceive the nation and the international world ,and also threaten the peace of the country. Deliberate misinformation is known to have created chaos in some countries leading to significant loss of life. We are just recovering from war. Our country is still fragile. If caution is not exercised over what is fed the nation and the world through social media especially, we might one day return to war. The media is a very powerful and potent force.
If VP Sam Sumana was not attacked, as government has demonstrated ; if the VP did not flee his home, as he himself has confessed , though Sorie Fofana is showing us a photo of him and the VP at a secret location after he fled his home ; If the VP did not ask the U.S Embassy for asylum as he himself has conceded , then something is seriously wrong . If at the same time, the VP did all these things and is now denying, then something sinister is brewing in our nation and the Government should come out not only with a very strong message but whoever created the hype must be made to apologize to the nation and the international world . Their motives were not only to deceive the nation and the world but to create chaos in the nation. This matter must not be allowed to die naturally.
SOMEONE CREATED AND STAGED -MANAGED A SPECTACULAR MEDIA HYPE LAST SATURDAY . BUT THE STUNT CAME CRASHING DOWN BECAUSE ITS HANDLING WAS DREADFUL. EVEN ILLITERATE VILLAGERS WOULD HAVE DONE BETTER.
Did the VP release this press statement that was widely circulated on Social media ?
VP SAMSUMANA SPEAKS FROM HIS HIDEOUT IN THE PROVINCE.
News of my agreeing to resign, as narrated by Solomon Berewa on 98.1 on Monday morning, and on the BBC the previous day, are false and intriguing to me. I have no reason to resign because I have done nothing unconstitutional to warrant such a decision. I have made this correction known to Mr. Umaru Fofana, so I believe he will make that clear in his next broadcast. I have refused to go to my house because the President has not only ordered my 26 personal guards to be disarmed and removed, but has asked the IGP and the Army to replace them with Six police and four army officers that I have never met before. In these trying moments, fellow Sierra Leoneans, you will agree with me that it would be dangerous for me to be having around me officers that I have never known, seen or acquainted with. To compromise, I even asked that if they have any problems with my earlier suggestion of returning to me all my officers I had been quarantined together with, the authorities could add even another of my old gurds. Earlier, they had not only taken away two of my official security vehicles, they also took armed men to disarm my quarantined security personel at while they were being quarantined at Jui, outside Freetown. To all these provocations, I implore all Sierra Leoneans to remain calm, law abiding as I follow the rule of law to address all the unfounded allegations against me, my family and the people of this lovely country. I am fine, healthy and wish to return to my house and office soon my security details are satisfactory as they were before Saturday last.
I thank you all.
God bless you.
DID THE VP ALSO TALK TO THE AWOKO NEWSPAPER ? THIS IS CURIOUS . IF THIS REPORT BY AWOKO IS TRUE, THEN THE VP HAS LOTS OF QUESTIONS TO ANSWER.
Sierra Leone News: “I fear for my life” -VP Sam Sumana
Vice President Sam Suma on the morning of Saturday 14th March 2015 told Awoko over the phone that he was no longer in his house, because he feared for his life.
The Vice President who sounded disturbed, explained that a team of emissaries which included the former Vice President Solomon Berewa, the Ambassador to China Victor Bockarie Foh, the SLPP Secretary General Sulaiman Banja Tejan Sie and one other had visited him the night before to convey a message from President Koroma asking him (VP Sam Sumana) to resign.
The Vice President said he told them they should give him time to consult, and in any case wait for him until he ends his quarantine, after which he address the issue.
VP Sumana disclosed that he had intelligence that the commander of the Presidential guards was disarming and deploying soldiers around his house so “I left because I am afraid for my security.”
Asked whether he had sought refuge in the American Embassy, VP Sumana said “ I have informed the diplomatic community and they are meeting now, but I am not in my house, I am around somewhere else.”
“It is up to the diplomatic community now.”
Truckloads of armed police officers were clearly visible around the area where the VP lives.
Outreach Coordinator Abdulai Bayratay told 98.1 that the Vice President was safe and there was no cause for alarm.