Joe Rahall, Green Scenery
Pujehun chiefs prevent donors from monitoring projects
By Francis H. Murray
The environmental campaign group, Green Scenery, has expressed dissatisfaction over the attitude of the District Officer (DO) of Pujehun, who they said “illegally” prevented their donor partners from monitoring sponsored projects in the district.
Representatives from Christian Aid Ireland and Christian Aid Sierra Leone were scheduled to meet and discuss with beneficiaries of livelihood support projects they sponsored for inhabitants of Basalleh, a village in Malen chiefdom, as part of evaluation of the project implemented by Green Scenery, through a local partner organization in the district.
‘‘After following all due protocols including prior notice of the visit to the district (District Council, the DO, the Police) and the chiefdom (Chiefdom Speaker and Town Chief), Green Scenery was astonished that the DO Pujehun District, Mr. [Charles Munda] Kailie and the Chiefdom Speaker Mr. [Chief Robert] Moigua stopped the visitors from accessing the village of Basalleh, where representatives especially women and other vulnerable groups from the ten villages had assembled in preparation to meet with the visiting team,’’ the campaign group said in a statement sent to Politico.
The beneficiaries of the Green Scenery funded project specifically targets families that have been displaced by the activities of the French agribusiness firm, Socfin Agricultural Company. The project seeks to provide support for the people who are mostly women to start alternative livelihoods.
According to Green Scenery’s statement, the village was peaceful with women singing songs in readiness to welcome the guests, when all of a sudden police men stopped the ceremony.
‘‘What was embarrassing about the behavior of the DO was that he could not even allow them to introduce themselves and explain why they were in the district. The DO was so adamant that he was virtually shouting at the visitors that he would not allow them visit Malen chiefdom as the head of security in the district,” the statement said.
Green Scenery also accused the Chiefdom Speaker of orchestrating the whole incident.
‘‘Green Scenery is well informed about link between the DO’s attitude to an instruction from the Chiefdom Speaker who impressed upon the DO that there were people in the Chiefdom engaged in some kind of investigation and that the DO needed to take an action to stop any further visit by foreigners into the chiefdom,” it says.
Green Scenery has been at the center of court action against Socfin Agricultural Company. Sahn Malen is also at the center of a land controversy which has prompted investigation and mediation efforts from the office of the Vice President.
While the campaign group expressed concern about the impact this incident would have on its development partners, they also urged the government to speed up the investigation and make public its reports in the interest of peace and development.
The District Officer, Mr Kailie, refused to talk to Politico when contacted.
Chief Moigua, on the other hand, while denying that he influenced the DO’s action, defended the decision to prevent the meeting which he said was illegal because Green Scenery and its donor partners failed to follow relevant procedures before such a gathering.
Chief Moigua said the meeting had the tendency to disrupt and ongoing investigation by a technical team set up by the Vice President which was yet to present its report.