By Amin Kef (Ranger)
In the wake of the failed attempted coup on 26th November 2023, the Ministry of Information and Civic Education of Sierra Leone held a press conference on 28th November at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference hall. International bodies including Ecowas, the US, EU, and Commonwealth have unambiguously denounced the incident and are pressing for swift justice for the culprits involved.
Information and Civic Education Minister, Chernor Bah, expressed his gratitude towards the citizens for their adherence to law and order amidst the crisis. He urged the public to rely on the Ministry for accurate and up-to-date information.
Bah confirmed that the State Security has classified the recent event as a failed coup attempt, which met the necessary criteria as per the security sector’s standards. He also extended an official apology for unintentionally including some names on the ‘wanted’ list which were later rectified. The Ministry’s Facebook page has been updated with the official list.
William Fayia Sellu, the Inspector General of Sierra Leone Police, reassured the public that an investigation into the attempted coup is underway and that the country’s security remains under control.
Providing further details on the casualties, Minister Bah reported that the incident resulted in the death of 14 RSLAF officers, 1 SLP officer, 1 correctional officer, and 3 assailants. In addition, 13 military officials and 1 civilian have been taken into custody in connection to the attempted coup.
Lieutenant General Peter Lavahun, the Chief of Defense Staff RSLAF, confirmed the death of an individual known as Leather Boot during his arrest at the Military facility due to gunshot injuries. Lavahun warned that some assailants are still at large and urged citizens to assist in their capture by providing any helpful information. Two vehicles believed to belong to the assailants were recovered in Orugu and Allen Town.
Colonel Sheikh Sulaiman Massaquoi, Acting Director General of the Sierra Leone Correctional Center, reported breaches at Pademba Road and Special Court Prison, leading to multiple inmate escapes. However, he noted that a few escapees have voluntarily returned and efforts are being made to restore order in the facilities.
According to the authorities, the coup attempt involved both active and former military and police officers. The investigation is ongoing, with additional suspects expected to be identified.
Minister Bah encouraged the public to resume normal activities while continuing to adhere to the law. The government has announced a bounty for the capture of the wanted individuals and escaped inmates, offering Nle50,000 for the assailants and Nle10,000 for inmates.
On the same day, President Julius Maada Bio visited the 34 Military Hospital in Freetown, where members of the Security Forces who sustained injuries during the failed coup attempt are being treated. He commended the Military Officers for their commitment to defending democracy in Sierra Leone and affirmed that the government and people of Sierra Leone are grateful for their bravery. He reassured them that their sacrifice would not be in vain.