By Foday Moriba Conteh
The Office of National Security (ONS) on Friday, 16th June, 2023 convened a Press conference at the Conference Room of the Office of National Security (ONS) on Tower Hill in Freetown geared towards revealing the level of preparedness of the Security Sector for the June 2023 Elections and to deliberate on critical issues being dealt with before and after the elections.
In attendance were the National Security Coordinator (NSCoord), Abdulai Caulker, respective Heads of the Police, Military and Fire Force including the Inspector General of Police, William Fayia Sellu, AIG Operations Braima Jah, Head of National Joint Operations Centre, Major General Fred Alpha, ONS Chief of Staff, Francis Langumba Keili and a host of others. Also present were members of International Election Observer Teams.
The National Security Coordinator (NSCoord), Abdulai Caulker, in his statement said : “While we pledge to remain apolitical and professional, we will be emphatic that as a sector, we will not sit by and allow miscreants to subvert either our democracy or the State. We are poised to hunt them and impel them.”
He noted that just recently the security architecture uncovered the activities of some groups with the aim of undermining national security revealing how some of their members have been arrested, and the security sector will continue to effect arrests.
According to him, the security sector has the constitutional responsibility to ensure the peace and security of Sierra Leone and to protect lives and property.
“In line with our activities, we have taken a number of activities in order to get ourselves adequately prepared for the June 24th 2023 elections, and I feel confident to state that we have reactivated the Integrated Election Security Planning Committee (IESPC) to ensure focused coordination of the efforts of Election Management Bodies (EMBs), support security sector planning and actions through development of appropriate strategies and mobilize requisite funding support for the Security Sector to cover the elections,” he stated.
With regards challenges encountered, he said, the first is Social Media which has become one of the greatest threats to national security today adding that there is no denying of the fact that social media platforms have been largely misused to circulate misinformation, lies, tribal bigotry, hate speech, invectives and all manner of incendiary messages, especially the WhatsApp.
He maintained that divisive and ethnic messages expressed through the social media have proved very unhelpful for national unity ad cohesion.
According to him, the second threat is lawlessness and indiscipline saying such are mainly exhibited by acts of disobedience to the laws of the land and State institutions, wanton violence, drug peddling and abuse and other forms of criminality.
The National Coordinator disclosed that another key threat is political intolerance which has led to unnecessary tension in the country undermining national security and the integrity of the elections.
He said assessment indicates that most of the violent confrontations between political party supporters stem from their inability to accommodate one another.
Abdulai Caulker expressed his concern about the disturbing assertion by some members of the public and political parties that some security members are bias, impartial and vindictive in the discharge of their functions. “Whilst such assertions could be said to be based on perception and figments of the imagination, they can be de-motivating to sincere and hardworking members of the security sector,” he said, adding that he can assure all and sundry that the actions of the security sector are guided by prudence.
He ended up by encouraging all journalists to support the work of the Security Sector and the EMBs.
Other speakers at the Conference made salient contributions with regards their respective actions and interventions including the Inspector General of Police, William Fayia Sellu, AIG Operations Braima Jah, the Head of National Joint Operations Centre, Major General Fred Alpha, and ONS Chief of Staff Francis Langumba Keii who moderated the event assisted by Abdul Karim, Director of Communications at ONS.