Gbarpolu County Senator Botoe Kanneh clarifies
After being accused by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) of supporting hunters in her county to destroy wildlife and other endangered species, Botoe Kanneh, Senator of Gbarpolu County, has clarified that the allegation levelled against her is baseless.
Recent Media reports indicate that the Gbarpolu Senator, who was once engaged in the business of bush meat trading, prior to the start of her political career, has been criticized for her solidarity with people of her county who hunt animals for living.
She is on record for vehemently opposing authorities of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) for arresting some of her county citizens for allegedly destroying wildlife for survival.
Senator Kanneh, a lone female senatorial candidate in Gbarpolu during the 2020 midterm election, was overwhelmingly elected by the people of her county to represent them. Speaking on a local radio talk show, Sen. Kanneh said that she was not involved in the bush meat business as alleged by the FDA.
She recalled that in recent years she discovered that some of the citizens were arrested by the FDA for allegedly killing animals for commercial purposes and she intervened to have them released.
According to her, the arrest and imprisonment of the hunters and confiscation of their meat by the FDA was in violation of the country’s forestry law and an abuse of human rights.
The government, over the years, she added, has failed to find alternative livelihood options for the citizens, but continues to molest them for what the FDA termed as ‘protection of wildlife’.
“I believe that the FDA does not understand the law,” she said. “Section 5.3.2 of the conservation law talks about sustainable forestry conservation where the government is obligated to engage the communities and facilitate means to improve the lives of rural people who depend on the forest. Instead of the FDA ensuring alternative livelihood solutions, they are arresting the citizens, taking away their living and putting them into prisons. This is highly wrong to do so.”
She said that whenever the FDA arrests the dry meat from the citizens, they do not burn it, but sell it.
“I’m very aware of the FDA’s action in dealing with this situation because I am a witness. They arrest the people and take the meat to sell on the market. We are talking about a huge quantities of meat being arrested by the FDA under the pretense of protecting wildlife,” she explained.
According to her, when she heard that her citizens were arrested by the FDA, she immediately went to their rescue.
“My citizens were arrested for what they considered as not protecting wildlife. But what really puzzled me is that these people were taken away from their children and no one cared for the little ones. This is an abuse of the rights of humans. How does the government want these children to survive when their parents are not around?”
“They took away more than eight bags of meat to an unknown place, not the FDA sub office in the county. I wanted to report the meat to the office, but instead, they took it to the market. They took the meat there to the market to look for customers to sell the meat. So, when I got there I told the people to take back the meat because it belongs to them. The law said wherever you find your property, you have the right to take possession of them. The dry meat is the property of the hunters and not the FDA people who want to have them sold,” the Senator argued.
The law should be respected. I am telling the government to rehabilitate the people. Those are the people who elected me and so I must be able to defend them,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Gbarpolu Senator says she will not relent to carry out development for her citizens, despite the challenges she has been confronted with.
“It is the first time in the history of this country for a female to be intimidated during an election by a traditional devil. I’m the kind of person where, anything I do people will hate me. I am telling the truth. I will never be against international law that has to do with the protection of wildlife. People say that I am a ‘bush meat Senator’. It is history, but I am no longer involved in such business. Therefore, the FDA should not use my photo in a story with bush meat as though I am in the business,” she said.