The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Amb Tamba Lamina, has on Thursday 30 June 2022 openly announced to the residents of the Lower Banta Chiefdom and other Government’s stakeholders that Paramount Chief John Jibao Russell Nyama has been recommended by the Government to officially return to his Chiefdom.
Minister Lamina made this announcement while handing over the administrative investigation report that contained recommendations from the Government to PC Russell and other Chiefdom stakeholders in respect of the conflict that erupted between the said Chief and his subjects which caused him to move out of his Chiefdom since 2018.
In his statement, Minister Lamina narrated how the conflict started and the efforts of the Ministry to bring peace in the Chiefdom. He explained that the first response of the Government through MLGRD was to ask Chief Russell to move away from the Chiefdom due to the tension at that time, and that after series of interventions by the Government ranging from sending the Council of Paramount Chiefs to assess the situation, engagement with Section Chiefs and the administrative investigation, it was clear that the majority of the stakeholders in the Chiefdom wanted their Paramount Chief back. He added that Chief Russell has shown signs of remorse for all that happened and has begged for forgiveness from his people.
He continued that the report contains all the recommendations that would guide the Chief to maintain peace and stability in the Chiefdom, and that the Ministry would do a proper monitoring to make sure that the said recommendations are implemented in full.
“What we have noticed from this investigation and the ones that we did in other Chiefdoms including Bagruwa, Futal Pejeh and Penguya, is the lack of inclusive governance. This is one of the main source of conflicts in Chiefdoms,” he disclosed while suggesting that Paramount Chiefs should include the Local Councils, Provincial and District Administrations and their subjects in the running of their Chiefdoms.
He further testified that Lower Banta Chiefdom contributes greatly to the national economy of the country through the mining companies that operate there, adding that it would be a loss to the Government if the Chiefdom is not stable. He therefore expressed his dismay about certain residents of the Chiefdom that failed to attend the meeting, but ended up saying that the Ministry is poised to officially return Chief Russell to his Chiefdom in three weeks time.
In his remarks, the Minister of Internal Affairs, David Pander Noah, explained the roles and responsibilities of his Ministry in ensuring that peace and stability prevail in the country, adding that when certain set of people tend to be too stubborn, the security forces will apply reasonable force to make sure that they comply with the law. He therefore urged the Lower Banta residents to accept the Government’s recommendations and give chance to peace in the Chiefdom.
The Permanent Secretary of MLGRD, Thomas B. Lansana, summarized the processes that are involved in the election and removal of Paramount Chiefs according to the 2009 Chieftaincy Act, adding that the Paramount Chieftaincy position is sacred which is why the Ministry always takes time to investigate and conclude on issues between them and their subjects.
The Director of Local Government, the Heads of Police and Soldier in the Southern Province also entreated the residents of Lower Banta to let go of all what had happened and embrace the Chief.
The meeting ended with the handing over of the copy of the report to the Chief and the District Officer plus assurance from Chief Russell that he will implement the recommendations to the letter.