By Amin Kef (Ranger)
It is a fact that the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) is the body created by the country’s constitution with the extraordinary mandate of protecting the lives and properties of all people living throughout Sierra Leone, (not just the citizens, as most people erroneously believe).
However, much water has flowed under the bridge as far as the conduct and professionalism of the SLP is concerned. There have been more than a few coincidences, consequences of police brutality with some of these resulting to deaths of innocent civilians.
At the same time, there have been occasions when the SLP acted professionally and were commended for their action. In fact, just this past weekend, no less a person than Mohamed Kamara aka Pope, Deputy Publicity Secretary of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party stated over the AYV on Sunday TV discussion programme that, he was impressed with the SLP on the day their party’s flag bearer Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara and his newly-elected Executive members marched through the streets of Freetown. Pope said the SLP provided adequate security for their large crowd of members but then, he was disappointed about the attack on the new APC Secretary General, Lansana Dumbuya which allegedly occurred in the vicinity of the Presidential Lodge, Hill Station in Freetown.
That notwithstanding, the SLP before now has had its own fair share of woes and joy. There was a time when SLP personnel tore their uniforms in exchange for civilian clothes when rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) overrun Freetown, targeting police officers. Any police officer caught in uniform died a miserable death at the hands of the RUF.
That was then.
It can safely be stated that down the line, the SLP has evolved within the last ten years. Much has been done and achieved in training and providing logistics in the form of uniforms, regular rice supply, regular salary, vehicles for operations and for transportation of personnel to and from work, regular refresher training courses, medical allowance, participation in international peacekeeping ventures among other internal arrangements such as study leave, leave allowance, NASSIT contributions among other benefits for SLP personnel. Indeed, the current administration of President Julius Maada Bio is on record for doing much for the SLP in terms of improving the lot of our police personnel and recruiting several hundreds in the last four years.
In the midst of all this, Sierra Leone will go to the polls on 24th June, 2023, wherein citizens will vote in a multi-tier election. From what is being observed before the actual elections and even before campaign whistle has been blown, safety and security issues are already erupting and are therefore bound to erupt in the coming months. The SLP must at this point in time be readying itself to face and quell any eventuality before it becomes a major incident.
Much is expected of the SLP by the people of this country before, during and after the elections. From the look of things, there is not much in terms of security being adequately provided round the clock by the SLP as should be the case. This is not to say the SLP is not trying. They are, but the reality is, they cannot be everywhere at the same time.
However, as the clock slowly ticks towards Election Day – Sierra Leoneans in every nook and cranny are looking up to the SLP to provide adequate safety and security for voters as well as for election staff and materials. The SLP must be very alert and on the lookout for potential trouble-makers from all the political parties; but more especially from the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the main opposition APC party.
At the end of the day, citizens expect the SLP to be on top of things on Election Day. Anything short of this would simply not be acceptable!
Security is everyone’s business. In fact, your best security guard is yourself.
Granted we have men and women who have been trained and made to take oaths to serve the country as Police Officer, but their number and strength can never be enough. This is true for advance societies as well.
How do citizens help to ensure that they have security? The Answer is Obey and Follow the law. Avoid unnecessary tension and provocation of your opponent.
For example, the newly elected APC secretary General Mr. Lansana Dumbuya was said to have had some ugly encounters with security officers in front of the Presidential Lodge at Hill Station. The question is what were Mr. Dumbuya and his followers doing in front of the Presidential Lodge at Hill Station? The Police gave permit to the elected APC executives to enter the city through the Calaba Town in the East and to proceed to the Party Office in Brookfields using marked streets and road to avoid incidence like this. Security was provided along these routes and the APC itself is praising the Police for Policing the route and ensuring that their movement to their party headquarters in BrookFields went smoothly. Diverting from this route and going to celebrate in front of the President Lodge was calling for trouble. Did Mr. Dumbuya pre-empt what would happened, and still decided to take the risk anyway to loom his fame irrespective of the consequences? If that was what he had in mind, then he took a calculated risk and this are some of the unnecessary issues that can caused mayhem and upheaval in a fragile country like us.
The Security of the President of the nation cannot be mortgaged by anyone, and this is true for anyone who sits in that office as our President. The Mr. Dumbuya unnecessary incident incident is coming on the heel of the alleged assassinations attempt on the First Lady that resulted to the death and injuries of the colleagues of this same security officers.
If Mr. Lansana Dumbuya was looking for fame, maybe he got it because before this incident he was unknown in and around the country.
Youths should not allow Politicians to use them to commit violence. When asked to go for confrontation and demonstration or riot, they should ask the Politician to have his or her son lead the group. Period! June 24 will come and go. No one should go with it. We should all remain to celebrate Sierra Leone irrespective of who emerges winner on that day. Help the Police to Police you.