Strasser Is Dying


Former military head of state, Retired Captain Valentine Esegrabo Melvin Strasser is reported to be critically ill and admitted at Aspen, a private hospital at Brookfields, Freetown.

It could be recalled that Strasser who fought alongside now President Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio in the war against Charles Taylor’s NPFL rebels in Liberia and Foday Sankoh’s RUF in Sierra Leone suffered a gunshot wound to his leg that lately has festered and causing him agonizing pain.

At the directive of his war time buddy and NPRC government colleague, President Bio ordered for Strasser to be admitted at the 34 Military Hospital at Wilberforce where he was for three weeks; from where he was transferred to a private facility. Reportedly, at one stage Strasser went into coma and had to be placed on a life resuscitation machine.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Strasser whose condition is stable but confined to a wheelchair has been issued by the government with a diplomatic passport awaiting flight to either UK or Ghana for advanced medical treatment at the expense of the government.

Strasser was born on 26 April 1967 in Freetown. He grew up in the Orugu neighbourhood of Allen Town in East Freetown. He completed his secondary education at the Sierra Leone Grammar School in Freetown and graduated in 1985 at age eighteen. While in secondary school, Strasser was a gifted student in math and chemistry.

On graduation from secondary school in 1985, he was enlisted in the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces (RSLMF) and was deployed for military training as a cadet officer at the Benguema Military Training Academy in Benguema, a town located just outside Freetown. After his training, he was commissioned into the Sierra Leone army at the young age of nineteen. He was posted to a barracks in Daru, Kailahun District in Eastern Sierra Leone.

The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) led by Foday Sankoh began their first attack on 25 March 1991 in Buedu villages in Kailahun District. Strasser and other soldiers who were already in a military barracks in Kailahun, were sent to command and rout the rebellion against the RUF.

In their early and mid 20s, Strasser and a group of young commissioned military officers that included President Bio expressed the will of the people by overthrowing the APC government of Retired General Joseph Saidu Momoh in a bloodless coup on April 29th 1992. The government they formed with Strasser as head was called the National Provisional Ruling Council that consisted of military officers and civilians such as John Oponjo Benjamin who was Chief Minister. Bio was first Minister of Information, later Marine Resources. He briefly headed the government after Strasser was overthrown in a palace coup and flown to Guinea. This event paved the way for a return to civilian rule with elections held in 1996 that saw the SLPP led government headed by late President Ahmad Tejan Kabba taking over state power.

Following his overthrow, Strasser left for the United Kingdom where he studied law at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, but stopped his studies after a year. In 2000 Strasser left England for the Gambia only to have his entry to that country denied. He moved back to Sierra Leone where he has lived ever since in his family compound at Orugu.