Parliamentary candidate representing the Ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) for constituency 110 , Miss Josephine H. M. Jackson has denied recent claims made by the Chairman for the Western Rural District Council, Kasho Holland-Cole that she is a trouble maker and is disrupting Council’s activities, and asserted that it was very untrue.
The District Chairman, Kasho Holland Cole had called a press conference earlier in January this year, where he made allegations against Josephine Jackson such as she being a trouble maker and trying to disrupt the activities and operations of the District Council by blocking the council from collecting much needed revenue from sand mining at Hamilton. He also claimed that Miss Jackson even impersonated the current Member of Parliament, Kadie Kamara, in constituency 110.
Speaking to NewsWatch newspaper at her Hamilton village residence, Josephine Jackson out rightly denied all the claims made by Chairman Cole.
“My problem with the Chairman of Western Rural District Council started because I stood with the people when the Chairman of the District wanted to trample upon their rights” she said.
She said that she also believes that her constant engagement on issues of corruption and the policy of the new direction with all the 28 Headmen in that area may have angered the Chairman of the District, who is from the main opposition party.
Among many other unsubstantiated allegations that this medium may not wish to publish, she also claimed that her role in the action towards the reinstatement of the suspended Headman of Hamilton, Morlai Conteh, whom she claimed Chairman Cole had unlawfully suspended, may also be the reason why she is being vilified. She said she took the matter up and reported it to the Local Government Minister where Chairman Cole was called upon to appear but refused the Minister‘s call, so the Minister reinstated the Headman for Hamilton.
She went on to praise the Headman of Hamilton, Morlai Conteh, whom she said has brought development to the area in a short time. She cited the grading of the main beach road and the fixing of the street lights in the area as an example.
Speaking to NewsWatch, the apparently suspended Headman of Hamilton, Morlai Conteh, alleged that he fell out with the District Chairman over an issue with the Village revenue. According to him, they had refused to hand over their revenue to the Council because Chairman Cole had failed to provide a bank statement from an account which he said the Chairman had opened without the knowledge of the village people and also maintained that the District Council has not done nothing for them since Chairman Holland-Cole took over.
He said he also has problems with the present Member of Parliament, Mrs Kadie Kallon, who prefers to listen more to some members of the community than him and therefore makes decisions without consulting him.
He ended by declaring that as a Headman he has never declared for any political party because that will seem to be taking sides in national politics, which will not be good for cohesion in his community.
However, many citizens in Hamilton have denied Josephine Jackson’s claim that the headman has been reinstated because according to them, the District Council has already appointed an Acting Headman, Mr. Emmanuel Turay, who will assume Morlai Conteh’s position while he is on suspension.
Many have also said that the suspended Headman, Morlai Conteh should be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission for failing to account for revenue collected throughout his 8-year service as Headman and a total amount of 35,000 U.S. Dollars, which was paid to the Community Fund in 2016 by a Chinese construction Company known as CRSG, for the acquisition of a quarry along the peninsular highway.
Speaking to NewsWatch, a one-time Deputy Headman and member of the Elders Committee, Leonard George, commonly known as Mr. Ojo, said that in 2016, Mr. Conteh was asked by the Hamilton village people to give account for revenue collected from the Sand Mining for the 8 years that he has been in the position of Headman but he failed to do so. He said Morlai Conteh has also failed to account for a total amount of 35,000 U.S. Dollars, which was paid to the Community Fund in 2016 by a Chinese construction Company CRSG, adding that it was on his failure to account to the people that an official complaint was made to the District Council by the village people, which has now led to his suspension.
Mr. George also claimed that Morlai Conteh used his connections in the past APC government to violently rig the 2017 headman elections in Hamilton after the people had put up a younger and more popular candidate called Ahmed Sesay. He said they also believe that Morlai Conteh is working in close collaboration with highly placed officials of the Local Government Ministry in the new government to continue to have control over revenue from the sand mining. The Deputy Minister of Local Government, Phillip Tondonneh has however denied those claims.
“Chairman Kasho Holland-Cole is right about what Josephine Jackson and Morlai Conteh are doing to disrupt the activities of the Rural District Council. As we speak he is using the police to collect dues from the sand mining even when he is on suspension” a visibly angry Mr. George said.
The new Acting Chairman, Emmanuel Turay, told NewsWatch that he has taken the case up with the District Council and they are waiting for action to be taken.