George Weah’s Critic Released In Sierra Leone

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 19, 2019 Liberian radio show host and opposition leader Henry Costa (C) gestures to supporters after landing in Monrovia.  Zoom DOSSO / AFP

 

Sierra Leone said it had released a leading opponent of Liberian President George Weah after he had been briefly detained at Liberia’s request.

Opposition figure Henry Costa left Sierra Leone for the United States, where he usually resides, an immigration official in Sierra Leone and Liberian media said.

Sierra Leone authorities had stopped him from leaving the country on Tuesday, local media reported, in an affair allegedly related to problems with his travel documents.

READ ALSO: George Weah’s Critic Arrested In Sierra Leone

Costa, chairman of a youth activist group called the Council of Patriots (COP), is a fierce critic of footballer-turned-politician Weah and often attacks him on his popular radio show.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 19, 2019 Liberian radio show host and opposition leader Henry Costa (C) gestures to supporters after landing in Monrovia. / AFP

Sierra Leone Information Minister Abdurahman Swarray told local radio on Thursday that Costa had been detained and released.

“There was a call from our counterparts in Liberia to investigate him and we did the due diligence,” Swarray said.

Costa had returned to his native Liberia from the United States last month ahead of an anti-Weah protest which took place on January 6.

He was prevented from boarding a flight in Liberia last week for allegedly possessing forged travel documents, media in Liberia said earlier.

He was supposed to present himself to Liberian authorities on Wednesday but instead turned up in Freetown, capital of neighbouring Sierra Leone, where he was detained at the airport.

COP co-chair Mo Alie confirmed that Costa had been released and was on his way to the United States.

Liberia’s government did not comment on Costa’s detention on Wednesday, and it was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

The president is under growing pressure to revive the West African country’s economy, which is struggling after back-to-back civil wars and the 2014-2016 Ebola crisis.

AFP

George Weah’s Critic Arrested In Sierra Leone

Liberian President George Weah

 

A leading opponent of Liberian President George Weah on Wednesday said he had been detained in neighbouring Sierra Leone, amid allegations of passport irregularities. 

Few details of the case have emerged but local media have reported that Monrovia requested opposition figure Henry Costa be  extradited over problems with his travel documents.

Costa, chairman of youth activist group the Council of Patriots (COP), posted on Facebook on Wednesday that he was in the hands of Sierra Leone authorities.

“Don’t worry. I will be okay. The Sierra Leone authorities are being very professional and nice to me,” Costa said.

Local media said he was stopped from boarding a plane in Liberia on Friday for allegedly possessing forged travel documents.

Costa was meant to present himself to Liberian authorities on Wednesday, but was detained at the airport in Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, media reported.

Liberia’s government was not immediately available for comment.

A Sierra Leone immigration official confirmed to AFP that Costa was in the country but did not comment further.

Costa is a fierce critic of footballer-turned-politician Weah and often attacks him on his popular radio show.

The president is under growing pressure to revive the West African country’s economy, which is struggling after back-to-back civil wars and the 2014-2016 Ebola crisis.

Normally resident in the United states, Costa returned to Liberia last month ahead of an anti-Weah protest which took place on January 6.

AFP

Sierra Leone Pro Football League Gets First Female Coach

 

 

 

One of Sierra Leone’s top football clubs has picked a woman to coach its main squad, in a first for the West African country’s professional league. 

The East End Tigers named police officer who formerly coached the country’s female football team, as its head coach.

“I’m so proud being a woman… to be appointed head coach of a male football team,” Conteh, 45, told AFP on Friday.

“It has never happened in Sierra Leone,” she added.

Also known by the nickname “D’Cox,” Conteh said she started playing football in her childhood, as a defender, and went on to captain the police football team.

“I’m encouraging more girls to play football in Sierra Leone,” Conteh said.

Human rights defenders say women are routinely discriminated against in the former British colony of some 7.5 million people.

This month, for example, the court of justice of West Africa bloc ECOWAS ruled that a policy banning pregnant girls from school breached rights of access to education.

East End Tigers is based in the diamond-mining town of Tongoma, in eastern Sierra Leone.

The club said on social media that it was “delighted” to appoint Conteh as the first female head coach in Sierra Leone’s premier league.

AFP

Idris Elba To Receive Sierra Leone Passport In First-Time Visit

British actor, director and executive producer Idris Elba 
Stefanie Loos / AFP

 

Film actor Idris Elba has arrived in his father’s native Sierra Leone for the first time, the government said, where he is due to receive citizenship and celebrate Christmas with the president.

The British-born star landed in the seaside capital Freetown to a small crowd on Wednesday, according to a government official who declined to be named.

Elba was born in London but his mother is from Ghana and his father from Sierra Leone, where he has expressed interest in investing in eco-tourism.

He is best is known for his roles in Marvel franchise films such as “Thor” and “The Avengers,” but is also a successful rapper and DJ. He was named People magazine’s “sexiest man alive” in 2018.

Sierra Leone’s Deputy Tourism Minister William Robinson told AFP that Elba planned to visit Sherbro Island — renowned for its pristine tropical beaches — and celebrate Christmas with President Julius Maada Bio.

The actor is expected to receive a Sierra Leonean passport before Christmas, said a government official who declined to be named.

The impoverished West African country is hoping to rekindle its tourism industry nearly two decades after the end of the civil war, which claimed some 120,000 lives.

AFP

ECOWAS Court Orders Sierra Leone To ‘Scrap Pregnant Girl School Ban’

ECOWAS Court Fines FG N30m For Violation Of Rights

 

A ban on pregnant girls attending school in Sierra Leone must be scrapped, a regional West African court ruled on Thursday in a case brought by rights groups.

The ECOWAS Court of Justice demanded that “the prohibitive policy be reversed immediately”, calling it “discrimination against pregnant adolescent girls”.

Sierra Leone banned pregnant girls from going to school in 2015 following the 2014 Ebola crisis — during which thousands of girls became pregnant, often because orphans turned to prostitution, or as a result of rape and abuse.

Officials had argued that pregnant girls would be unable to learn and might influence other girls to get pregnant, but rights groups said the move was discriminatory.

Hannah Yambasu of WAVES, one of the groups that brought the case, said the court’s decision was vital for “ensuring girls are protected and ensuring that girls finish their higher education”.

The ruling was a “landmark moment”, according to Amnesty International’s Marta Colomer, but she warned that national governments do not always enforce decisions from ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States.

“The problem is in the past, we’ve seen some of Ecowas judgments have faced difficulties to find themselves enforced,” she said.

Justice Dupe Atoki at the ECOWAS court not only called for an end to the prohibition but also criticised efforts by the UN and the British government to provide a limited education for pregnant youngsters.

“That establishment of schools for pregnant adolescent girls where four subjects are taught in three days in a week is discriminatory and a violation of rights to equal education,” she said.

The ECOWAS Court, set up by the fifteen member states, issues decisions that are supposed to be binding, but often are not acted upon.

Women and girls in Sierra Leone face high levels of sexual violence -– a legacy of the use of rape as a weapon during the civil war of 1991-2002.

For a year after the 2014 Ebola Crisis, which killed almost 4,000 people in Sierra Leone and spread across West Africa, schools were closed to help authorities curb the deadly virus.

But after they reopened reports of stigma were rife.

In 2015, a group of 5,000 girls were expelled for getting pregnant during the Ebola crisis, before the decision was reversed by the government.

Sierra Leone To Play Next Match Behind Closed Doors

 

Sierra Leone were ordered by FIFA on Wednesday to play their next home match behind closed doors following disturbances at the World Cup eliminator against Liberia last month.

FIFA cited a number of incidents including “invasion of the field of play, throwing of objects, lack of order or discipline observed in or around the stadium” as they also imposed a fine of 50,000 Swiss francs (45,700 euros).

Liberia, who won the tie 3-2 on aggregate to advance to the second round of African qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, complained that their team had been attacked by Sierra Leone supporters and prevented from training.

Peter Butler’s side are one of 40 that will be drawn into 10 groups of four with qualifying set to continue in 2020.

Sierra Leone Fighting To Rescue Survivors Of Building Collapse

 

Rescue personnel is seen at the scene of a buiding collapse in Bo on September 26, 2019. STRINGER / AFP
Rescue personnel is seen at the scene of a buiding collapse in Bo on September 26, 2019.
STRINGER / AFP

 

 

Rescue teams at a city in southern Sierra Leone struggled Thursday to reach labourers buried under a building that collapsed as they were working on it, rescue services said.

A preliminary toll given by the local hospital said more than a dozen had been injured, but there were fears the final figure would be far higher.

The three-storey building crashed down on Wednesday in Bo, the country’s second largest city, located about 250 kilometres (155 miles) from the capital Freetown.

More than 80 people were scheduled for work on the site at the time, but how many lay in the rubble was unclear, an official at the disaster management department told AFP by phone.

There had also been women street hawkers at the site.

“We have received over a dozen people with injuries,” Dr. Peter Samai, the medical officer at the Bo Government Hospital, said.

“Ten of the survivors have severe injuries.”

The building was being put up close to a Ministry of Agriculture office on the Bo-Taiama Highway where several government offices are located.

The collapse happened as workers were concreting the last floor.

Police cordoned off the site as rescue teams looked for survivors, an eyewitness said.

“We are frantically working… with machinery, shovels and hands,” local mayor Harold Tucker said.

“We are working round the clock to rescue people trapped but it’s unlikely they will survive.”

The West African state is one of the poorest in the world, ranking 184th out of 189 countries in the 2018 UN Human Development Index.

AFP

AFCON 2021: Nigeria To Face Benin, Sierra Leone, Lesotho In Qualifiers

Team Nigeria: Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

Nigeria have been handed a relatively easy opponents in the qualifiers for 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

According to the draw released by the organizers, the three-time African champions will play in Group L with Benin Republic, Sierra Leone and Lesotho.

The Super Eagles will begin their campaign for a place in the continental tournament on November 11.

The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations will be held in Cameroun from June 15 to July 23.

See the full draws below.

Preliminary Round

Liberia v Chad

South Sudan v Seychelles

Mauritius v Sao Tome e Principe

Djibouti v Gambia

First, second legs: Oct 7-15

Group A

Mali, Guinea, Namibia, Liberia/Chad

Group B

Burkina Faso, Uganda, Malawi, South Sudan/Seychelles

Group C

Ghana, South Africa, Sudan, Mauritius/Sao Tome

Group D

Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Angola, Djibouti/Gambia

Group E

Morocco, Mauritania, Central African Republic, Burundi

Group F

Cameroon (hosts), Cape Verde, Mozambique, Rwanda

Group G

Egypt, Kenya, Togo, Comoros

Group H

Algeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana

Group I

Senegal, Congo Brazzaville, Guinea-Bissau, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland)

Group J

Tunisia, Libya, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea

Group K

Ivory Coast, Niger, Madagascar, Ethiopia

Group L

Nigeria, Benin, Sierra Leone, Lesotho

Matchdays: Nov 11-19 (two rounds), Aug 31-Sept 8 2020 (two rounds), Oct 5-13, Nov 9-17

Note: winners and runners-up qualify from each group except F, where Cameroon automatically qualify as hosts with highest placed of other three teams

Did not enter: Eritrea, Somalia

Sierra Leone Places One-Month Ban On Industrial Fishing

 

Sierra Leone has banned industrial fishing in its territorial waters for a month from Monday in a move to try to shore up stocks that were applauded by environmental activists.

The government also decreed an April 1-30 halt to exports by major fishing companies “to protect our fish stock from depletion”, said a statement from the fisheries ministry.

“All industrial fishing companies should stock their fish in cold rooms … during the period of closure,” Minister of Fisheries Emma Kowa Jalloh told AFP.

The West African states of Mauritania, Senega, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone lost about $2.3 billion (more than 2.1 billion euros) a year from 2010 to 2016 due to illegal and undeclared fishing, according to the Greenpeace environmental group.

Sierra Leone National Fishermen Consortium chairman Alpha Sheku Kamara accused China and Korea of destroying stocks.

“We are happy that the government has declared fishing period closure after series of complaints,” he told AFP at the bustling Tombo fishing community outside the capital Freetown.

“Industrial fishing boats from China and Korea are destroying our nets and also depleting the fish stock,” he said.

“We are calling on the government to effectively enforce the ban with surveillance.”

Many coastal communities in Sierra Leone depend on fishing for food and their livelihood, said Steve Trent, executive director at Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).

“We applaud the ban but the long answer is for legal, equitable and sustainable fishing industry management to be introduced.”

“We are working towards helping Sierra Leone with surveillance boats and regulatory framework for sustainable fishing methods,” Trent said.

“Illegal fishing accounts for about 30 per cent of catches by industrial foreign fleets in Sierra Leone, according to the 2017 Sea Around Us project at the University of British Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley and five other organisations.

It found that in the past decade industrial foreign vessels have increased illegal activities off Sierra Leone either on their own or by enticing small-scale fishers into illicit partnerships.

Reduced monitoring and surveillance resulting from the withdrawal of development aid encouraged unlicensed operations, researchers said, noting an estimated 42,000 tonnes caught by illegal fishing in 2015.

A representative of a large Chinese fishing company in Sierra Leone declined to comment to AFP.

AFP

Sierra Leone Disqualified From 2019 AFCON

 

Sierra Leone have been disqualified from the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifying competition, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said on Monday.

Football’s world governing body FIFA had suspended the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) in October due to “government interference”.

CAF’s decision means Kenya and Ghana are assured of first and second place in Sierra Leone’s Group F and have therefore booked their place in next year’s finals.

“Sierra Leone is disqualified from the qualifiers and all its matches are annulled,” CAF said in a statement.

The row stems from the decision of Sierra Leone’s anti-corruption commission to sack SLFA president Isha Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara during an ongoing probe into corruption and mismanagement.

In October, CAF cancelled two matches pitting SierraLeone against Ghana due to the dispute between Freetown and FIFA.

The 2019 finals have been plunged into uncertainty chaos after CAF last week stripped Cameroon of the right to host the tournament, citing delays caused by infrastructure work.

CAF The organisation has yet to determine the new host country but said it would reach a decision by the end of the year.

AFP

CAF Disqualifies Sierra Leone From African Nations Cup

File Photo

 

Sierra Leone have been disqualified from the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifying competition, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said on Monday.

Football’s world governing body FIFA had suspended the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) in October due to “government interference”.

CAF’s decision means Kenya and Ghana are assured of first and second place in Sierra Leone’s Group F and have therefore booked their place in next year’s finals.

“Sierra Leone is disqualified from the qualifiers and all its matches are annulled,” CAF said in a statement.

The row stems from the decision of Sierra Leone’s anti-corruption commission to sack SLFA president Isha Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara during an ongoing probe into corruption and mismanagement.

In October, CAF cancelled two matches pitting Sierra Leone against Ghana due to the dispute between Freetown and FIFA.

The 2019 finals have been plunged into uncertainty chaos after CAF last week stripped Cameroon of the right to host the tournament, citing delays caused by infrastructure work.

CAF The organisation has yet to determine the new host country but said it would reach a decision by the end of the year.

AFP

CAF Cancels Sierra Leone’s African Cup Ties Against Ghana

File Photo

 

Sierra Leone’s African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Ghana this week have been scrapped owing to the nation’s unresolved row with FIFA, the Confederation of African Football said Wednesday.

Sierra Leone was suspended by FIFA over government interference in football and was given a deadline of 1700 GMT on Tuesday by world football’s governing body to come up with guarantees that it had resolved the issue.

“Qualifier matches Ghana vs Sierra Leone & Sierra Leone vs Ghana on the 11th and 14th of October respectively have been cancelled…” CAF said in a tweet.

It added that the Sierra Leone Football Association had failed to supply the guarantees requested by FIFA to allow the suspension to be lifted.

The West African nation was rocked last week when FIFA suspended it for government interference.

The bustup is rooted in a move by the country’s anti-corruption commission to sack SLFA president Isha Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara during an ongoing probe into corruption and mismanagement.

FIFA had demanded that the pair be reinstated when it announced the suspension on October 5.

AFP