From the Editor’s Keyboard

Exposing Charles Margai’s errors of judgement

12 April 2017 at 00:51 | 1218 views

Commentary

By Titus Boye-Thompson, Freetown.

In what has now come to be clearly established that some elements of the opposition had connived with members of the Academic Staff Association to politicize the Njala University Lecturers’ strike action, Charles Margai, leader of the opposition PMDC has waded in head first into a storm of criticism of the Sierra Leone Police but more specifically made a direct swipe at the Inspector General in what some have considered to be another of his errors of judgement in handling sensitive matters like a bull in a china shop.

The comments of Charles Margai (photo) have been translated as personal grudge and innuendo based on fabrication and contrivance. In a newspaper article, Charles Margai was reported to have accused the Inspector General of Police of not having the competence to lead the Sierra Leone Police force, an allegation that is made even more preposterous when you consider that it was under the same leadership of Charles Margai as Minister of Internal Affairs that Francis Munu, the Inspector General of Police was rewarded with a double promotion from Superintendent to Acting Commissioner due to his sterling service and performance as a commander under Keith Biddle and more especially for his operational professionalism in the job, promoting the cause of the Sierra Leone Police during the peace process.

It was therefore not a surprise when given an opportunity to comment on the allegations made against him by Charles Margai, IG Munu was measured in his words, referring to Charles Margai repeatedly as a former boss and friend, even though he has to always take a professional view to the exercise of his duties.

Stating that as a professional officer, he would want to argue with politicians, Inspector General Munu stressed that he has had to disagree on several occasions with Mr Margai especially on occasions wherein he would attempt to go outside of the law in his own profession as a lawyer or in his political life as leader of a defunct opposition party. He is adamant that they had enjoyed warm and cordial friendship but that has frozen ever since Charles Margai laid blame on the Police for the loss of all his seats in Parliament during the 2012 elections. He blamed Police action for not coming down harder on his opponents or otherwise for the way the police managed situations of conflict and violence that had occurred in his constituencies.

Revealing that the friendship with Charles Margai as a former boss has to be separated from their relationship as politician and law enforcement professional, Inspector General Francis Munu declared that there can be no permanent friends in the exercise of his duties but permanent interests. For him, his permanent interest is the proper enforcement of law and order and to ensure that all parties to any action keep within the law and conduct themselves with the appropriate decorum.

Charles Margai is known to engage in activities that may be construed as close to the fringes of illegality and for that, he sometimes depend on his friendship with the Police to allow him such leeway. This, the Inspector General believes may have been one root cause of his seeming apathy towards him.

On the case of the Njala riots which raised the unfortunate comments by the PMDC Leader, Inspector General Francis Munu expressed concern and empathy for the victims of the violence that happened across the country but more especially in relation to those who have been reported to have lost their lives. He expressed his condolences to their families but stated that when an issue of public disorder faces Police Commanders, it is those on the ground who are confronted with the situation that make the decisions on the use of force and on that basis, to what level of force that is necessary to deal with such situations. In such instances, when the Police has had to engage civilians with such force, questions of police brutality almost always occur. In such cases, the Police has established internal investigative systems such as the CDIID that immediately engages on a fact finding investigation to decide who did what, where and why.

In any event, the attempt by politicians to bulldoze their way into such incidences accusing the Police of brutality or unreasonable behaviour merely confuses the situation and cause much more harm than good. Their comments are mostly unwholesome and given what has come from Charles Margai in this case, Inspector General Munu was moved to determine that this would have been one more error of judgement displayed by the Politician. He was adamant that the politician has no moral authority to pass such crude judgement of his competence.

Citing the progress that the Sierra Leone Police has made under his tenure, Inspector General of Police recounted that there now exists a well-educated, better equipped and more professional force than under Charles Margai’s tenure as Minister of Internal Affairs with responsibility for the Sierra Leone Police. The Inspector General of Police lambasted Charles Margai’s recollection of Keith Biddle’s rejection of him as puerile nonsense. He disclosed that apart from his professionalism and performance on the job, he has no other way of gaining the confidence of Keith Biddle to the extent that he was accorded the rare privilege of a double promotion, thus bypassing the rank of Chief Superintendent on his way to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police and it is a signal fact that it was that jump in rank that put him in the position he is in today at the top of his profession, as Inspector General of Police in the Sierra Leone Police Force. He joked that Charles Margai is yet to attain his own peak as a politician, and it is the folly and errors of his judgement that have always restrained him from reaching the peak of his political career. He referred to the politician as a broken man, devoid of professional sentiments and burdened by failure. He still regards him as a friend but continued to stress that his interest to maintain law and order would at all times over rule any social or cordial relationship that may exist between them. He said in the Police force, they cannot afford to hold on to permanent friends when there interests of law and order are not in the same direction.

Inspector General of Police concluded his interview by stating the various progress that he has secured during his tenure. These include the emphasis on education and training within the force, the adoption of policies on gender equality, promotions, recruitment and welfare of Police officers, the establishment of internal investigations Unit to deal with complaints from within the force and outside, the establishment of a Police Academy whose campus is being constructed at Makump, on the Makeni/Magburuka Highway, the international recognition of the Sierra Leone Police as one of the best Peacekeeping forces for AU and UN missions including deployment of Police Officers and formed Police Units on missions in Africa and around the World.

With all these achievements and more, IG Munu remarked that it is regrettable that Charles Margai, a failed politician, can cast such a sweeping aspersion on his person.



Francis Munu, Sierra Leone’s Inspector-General of Police.

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