4 June 2012

Sierra Leone: President Koroma Assures Togolese Delegation

President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has recently received and held talks with a delegation from Togo headed by the Togolese Minister of Transport, Ninsao Gnofam.

During the meeting at State House, both sides held fruitful discussions with respect to ensuring compensation was given to the families of the victims of the helicopter crash in Sierra Leone where members of the Togolese football team lost their lives.

It would be recalled that on the 3rd June, 2007, after a very spirited game at the National Stadium in Freetown, members of the Togolese football team, including 19 fans and the Togolese Minister of Sports, perished in a helicopter crash enroute to Lungi, the national airport. What was supposed to be a happy event ended up in very tragic circumstances.

Welcoming the delegation, President Koroma described the incident as sad and unfortunate, adding that the government and people of Sierra Leone feel very strongly about the incident. He implored the delegation to work jointly with its counterpart in Sierra Leone as government was anxious to bring a definitive solution to the matter.

The president assured the delegation that they would sit and discuss the way forward, saying the insurers should also be part of the engagements to enable them find a way of compensating the families of the victims. He assured the delegation of his unyielding commitment to conclude the matter so that it would not have any negative effect on the relationship between the two countries.

President Koroma also disclosed that the incident had been discussed with his colleague president on several occasions for which he respects his show of concern for his people.

The Togolese Minister of Transport, Ninsao Gnofam, said they were in Freetown to deliver a special message to President Koroma with respect to the helicopter crash that killed members of the Togolese team in June, 2007. He went on to note that the Togolese government was anxious to find out what the government of Sierra Leone had decided to do to compensate the families of the victims of that fateful crash.

Mr. Gnofam informed the president that they had been following up events since the unfortunate incident five years ago, but lamented that nothing seems to be happening to address the matter. He also said they had received the report on the incident, and although they know exactly the conclusions of the report, they however want a concrete and permanent solution to the whole incident.

The Togolese minister informed President Koroma that they had discussed the matter with their colleague Minister of Transport and Aviation and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Togolese Minister of Sport, Christopher Tchao, thanked President Koroma for assuring the delegation that an amicable solution will be found that would be in the interest of both countries, and expressed delight that they now have a message to deliver to their people.

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