By Amin Kef (Ranger)
President Dr. Julius Maada Bio joined mourners, family members, and well-wishers at the Cockerill Military Headquarters on the 6th December 2023, for an inter-faith funeral service of 18 security personnel tragically killed during the attempted coup on November 26. The President expressed his deepest condolences and promised that the sacrifices of these heroes would not be forgotten.
The funeral service, attended by a vast crowd of mourners, paid homage to 15 soldiers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, two officers of the Sierra Leone Police, and a member of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service. President Bio praised their valiant efforts to uphold democracy, stating that they stood “steadfast in the face of treachery” and paid the ultimate price to defend their country.
Addressing the mourners, the President said, “Today, we stand united in grief, not just as mourners, but as bearers of a sacred duty to honor our fallen comrades.” He went on to condemn the “cowardly and selfish acts” of those responsible for the failed coup, criticizing their attempts to undermine the nation’s democracy and trust in its defense and security institutions.
President Bio also reminded the mourners of the fallen officers’ pledge to defend the constitution and the nation. He said their “unwavering commitment to their duty, loyalty to our country, and steadfast courage in the face of danger will forever be etched in our hearts.”
Reflecting on his role as Commander-In-Chief, the President expressed his personal grief over the tragedy, referring to the lost officers as “my brothers in arms, my family in service.” He committed to ensuring that their sacrifice would not be in vain, promising a relentless pursuit of justice against those involved in the failed coup, regardless of their power or position.
The funeral service saw tributes from the Chief of Defense Staff, Lieutenant General Peter K. Lavahun, the Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police, William Fayia Sellu, and the Director General of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service, Colonel Sulaiman Sheikh Massaquoi, who all expressed their solemn respects on behalf of their institutions.
The inter-faith funeral service was officiated by Major S.Y. Kamara, the Chief Imam of the Maritime Wing of the RSLAF, representing the Muslim faith, and Lt. Colonel B. S. Lebbie, representing the Christian faith.