Speaking on behalf of the community, Alimamy Jalloh, the former acting Fullah tribal head for over three years now, said when Alhaji Jiju Barrie contested to be the tribal head for all the Fullah some time ago, most of them objected. He said they objected because he was born in Kenema and not Kambia.
“The Minister of Local Government Maya Kaikai pleaded to us in order to accept him. Because the Minister has shown respect by begging us, we accepted. He then appointed Alhaji Sulaiman Jalloh as the deputy tribal head of the Fullah community,” he explained. He noted that a document was sent to both of them by the District Officer for them to sign in acceptance of each other’s position but Alhaji Jiju Barrie refused to sign.
He stated that because the newly appointed Fullah tribal head has refused to sign in acceptance of Alhaji Sulaiman Jalloh as his deputy, the community members have reverted to their stance thatthey don’t want him anymore.
He disclosed that Alhaji Jiju Barrie only came to Kambia during the war so the community members want an indigene to lead them.
He recalled that he (Alimamy Jalloh) was appointed Fullah tribal head in 1990, adding that the position has always been by political appointment and not by election.
He made their position clear that if anyone attempts to crown Alhaji Jiju Barrie as the head of the Fullah community, things will get out of proportion in the district.
In response, the District Officer of Kambia district Abu Kamara said he has heard the complaint of the aggrieved members of the Fullah community. He however expressed his dissatisfaction over the large crowd that he saw protesting on the street which he said will pose a security threat to the district. He warned that even though they are protesting, they should maintain the peaceful status quo in the township and the district at large.
“I will have to pass on our complaint to the Provincial Secretary of the north accordingly. Meanwhile, I want you to peacefully return to your homes and wait for the response of the Provincial Secretary,” he stated.
Representing the Office of National Security (ONS), Albert Kamara said the aggrieved members of the Fullah community should be careful not to behave disorderly. He added that he has heard their grievances and he will work closely with stakeholders to give redress to their plights.
He however kindly requested them to return to their homes peacefully as they look for an amicable solution.
In an interview with the alleged imposed Fullah tribal head, Alhaji Jiju Barrie, said there were only six members of the Fullah community among the protesters, claiming that all the rest were members of the Temne community.
He explained that it was the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development that came and handed him over to all the paramount chiefs in the Kambia district as the newly appointed tribal head of the Fullah community in Kambia.
“Two of us were vying for the position of a tribal head, me and Alhaji Sulaiman Jalloh and I was appointed by the Minister. The Minister also asked me to accept Alhaji Sulaiman Jalloh as my deputy tribal head but I refused,” he said. He added that he refused to accept him as his deputy because he was his opponent in the race to be the tribal head.
He disclosed that even though he refused, Alhaji Sulaiman Jalloh went around and told all the members of the Fullah community that he had been appointed at deputy tribal head.
Asked about his place of birth, he confirmed that he was born in the Kenema district but had come to live in Kambia during the war. “Despite the fact that I was born in Kenema, I still have the right to vie for the position of the Fullah tribal head because I’m a Fullah and above all, I’m a Sierra Leonean,” he stated.
He recalled that when he came from Kenema, he met only few members of the Fullah community and they only owned three houses. He noted that now there are over one thousand (1,000) members in the Fullah community and they have constructed one thousand three hundred houses (1,300).
“Even though they have opposed me as their head, I’m still working in the best interest of all of them,” he said.
Meanwhile, the aggrieved members of the Fullah community have accused few stakeholders of the district of taking bribe from Alhaji Jiju Barrie in order to confirm his status as a tribal head. But they have taken their stance of not allowing him to lead them until he accepts the newly appointed deputy.