Monday, May 27, 2024
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Why the Minister of Fisheries

By Usman Bangura

Local tabloids and social media, in recent times, have been awashed with allegations of corruption by senior staff of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, based on what a Korean business man who allegedly committed suicide recently. Some public opinions, according to one newspaper, urged the government of H.E Maada Bio to ‘set aside the minister of Fisheries’ while investigations continue into the allegations of the Korean business man. Furthermore, there was another immediate urge for the ACC to swiftly intervene.

I personally disagree with such insinuations or baseless allegations against senior members of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, particularly the hasty call to set aside the minister, until in my view, the following are exhausted:

A thorough background check on the activities of Kim Sung Nyeon since he entered Sierra Leone several years ago to ascertain how he fared on with business partners eg the owner of Tima Fishing Company at Mabellah Wharf, Lilian Lisk’s Okeky Fishing Company Banana Water, Chung Gang and Atlantico fishing companies

His relationship with other Korean and Chinese business partners

How he transacted with and what he owes foreign and indigenous banks

There are also rumours of his gambling and drug deals

  His compliance with Statutory Instrument ( the Fisheries and Aquaculture Regulations 2019) where penalties are stipulated for infringement

 Contact the Environmental Justice Foundation IUU Alert This organization carries a comprehensive lists of fishing vessels that frequently violate IEZ restrictions. This is to confirm that Kim Sung’s vessels are not the only ones that have been found wanton and paying fines.

The Environmental Justice Foundation  (EJF) is a non-governmental organization working internationally to combat illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and promotes sustainable management of Fisheries.

Another thing that really baffles me, which needs investigation, is the real circumstance that led to the suicide. Who is behind this saga? Who actually killed Kim Sung Nyeon? How could a matured man commit suicide because he simply has to pay a genuine fine, not imposed by the minister or any other senior staff, but by provisions of a statutory instrument? Was he the only vessel owner paying similar fines up to the time of his death or others were and are still paying? Was he under threat from other external factors for example bank loans or foreign Korean and Chinese business partners?

Several questions are yet to be answered and several other circumstances to be thoroughly investigated before calling for the Minister or anybody else to be set aside. The ACC under Ben Kelfala, does not jump into investigations where there is no ‘ Lead’ or evidence of corruption. Based on my little investigations done so far, nobody stands to lose anything now until it is deemed necessary. It is high time Sierra Leoneans stopped this pull him down syndrome. Why should Sierra Leoneans instantly believe hook, line and sinker a dead man’s allegations of corruption against patriotic Sierra Leoneans who have built their reputations over the years without substantive evidence? For me, investigations or no investigations, no staff or the Fisheries Minister should be set aside until the aforementioned issues are addressed. That’s my take.

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