By Augustus Massaquoi In Sahn Malen……………………………….
The former PMDC Member of Parliament for Constituency 088 in the Pujehun district, Hon. Shiaka Sama was, in February 2016, convicted by the Bo High Court on charges of incitement to violence and destruction of company property. He spent time in prison before he was released after paying an alternative fine imposed on him and his co-convicts.
Joseph Rahall is the Executive Director of Green Scenery in Sierra Leone. Both men have become a thorn in the flesh of both the people of Malen Chiefdom and Socfin Agricultural Company (SL) Limited.
Socfin has provided thousands of jobs for the people of Malen Chiefdom in the Pujehun district. The company’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in the area of education, sanitation, health care, social services and infrastructure is unmatched in the whole of Sierra Leone.
Recently, Hon. Shiaka Sama and Joe Rahall travelled to Brussels, Belgium to visit their financiers and to canvass support against the operations of Socfin in Sierra Leone.
One of their main backers in Europe, FIAN Belgium, appealed to Socfin authorities in Brussels to meet with Joe Rahall and Shiaka Sama to address some issues of concern to them.
In a leaked email, Socfin authorities in Belgium refused to meet with Joe Rahall and Shiaka Sama because the issue of the so-called land grabbing allegation is being investigated by the Chief of Staff at State House. “In every country where it operates, Socfin is always prepared to dialogue on matters that are of concern or interest to its neighboring communities, but these discussions between representatives of the relevant interest groups must be held in agreement with the government’s authorities and in accordance with local and traditional customs”, the Socfin email to FIAN Belgium states.
Socfin stated in clear terms that, as a principle, they will not meet with Shiaka Sama to discuss matters concerning their company because “he is a convicted criminal”.
The company stated clearly that, since the matter concerning alleged unrest and land issues in the Malen Chiefdom is being handled at State House, it would be unwise for them to meet with Shiaka Sama of MALOA and Joe Rahall of Green Scenery in Brussels.
On Monday 20th March, Shiaka Sama and Joe Rahall mobilized some land rights activists in Belgium to barricade the headquarters of Socfin in Brussels.
This move has been seen as an attempt by Shiaka Sama and Joe Rahall to obstruct the free flow of foreign investment in Sierra Leone.
Their action has been described as a clear-cut sabotage of the country’s fragile economy in the face of dire austerity measures announced by the cash-strapped government in January this year.
Over the past several years, Green Scenery and MALOA have been inciting the local indigenes of Malen Chiefdom to rise up against the operations of Socfin.
On many occasions, the local authorities in Malen Chiefdom, including the Paramount Chief and his sub chiefs have called on the government of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to ban the operations of Green Scenery and MALOA in their Chiefdom.
The issue is being investigated by the Chief of Staff at State House, Mr. Saidu Conton Sisay, according to State House sources.
A foreign investor in Freetown yesterday described the action of Shiaka Sama and Joe Rahall as a sabotage of the country’s fragile economy. “These young and exuberant activists just want to destroy their own country because they want to continue to attract foreign funding for their NGOs and in the process, discourage new foreign investors from coming to Sierra Leone…Sierra Leone is a beautiful country that needs foreign investments to boost the country’s economy and create jobs for the unemployed youth” he said.