Former President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Kelvin Lewis has narrated his ordeal with soldiers of the junta Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) Government in 1998.
Lewis, in post on Twitter, said he and two others were arrested by AFRC soldiers along Bai Bureh Road on 18th August 1997 – 26 years ago.
“We were bundled on to a Toyota halfback (pick-up) and driven with high speed to Cockerill Military headquarters,” he said.
The veteran journalist said the day of his arrest coincided with a planned protest by students across the country against the junta government. He said the AFRC soldiers on that very offloaded an agricultural container which contained tools including “very sharp cutlasses”. The former SLAJ President said one of the soldiers, famously knowns as Rambo cut him on the back with one of the cutlasses.
Lewis stated that he and the two other men were locked inside a freight container and almost would have suffocated had it not been for one military sergeant who ordered that door not to close the locks. He said they passed the night in the said container but were released the following day.
“We were released a day later through the intervention of a childhood friend,” he said.
He said while he and the two others returned home the following day, his foster son and mentee, Vaffe Konneh a N’jala University student was butchered to death.
The AFRC were a group of soldiers from the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) that aligned itself with rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in 1997. The group, under the leadership of Major Johnny Paul Koroma ousted the democratic government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
However, they were forced out of the country a year later in 1998 ECOWAS forces.
In 2007, the Special Court for Sierra Leone found three of their members, Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu guilty of war crimes. Leader of the group, Major Koroma was never found after the group was disbanded by West African forces.