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Open letter to Sierra Leone’s Inspector-General of Police

By  | 14 September 2012 at 19:46 | 3203 views

Dear Mr. Inspector General,

RE: An urgent need for robust policing

I am a very concerned Sierra Leonean living abroad, who, thanks to the ever growing social media, is well informed about developments or the lack of it back home. I have read and seen structures being built. I have read of a president, the opposition and people determined to raise the country from the ashes of war. I have read of investors and tourists flooding into the country to help with post-war development. And indeed, I have read of you attending conferences and trainings overseas to broaden your policing skills. But all of these will count for nothing, if on your watch the country, touch wood, relapses into the state of lawlessness it has just emerged from. And it is slowly creeping there!

Mr. IG, I was one of many a journalist, who called your predecessor Brima Acha useless. (You remember him?). I had good reasons and tangible evidence to join the clarion call for his head to roll. During his stewardship, (SLPP and the early days of this APC), I frequently visited the country, and saw what a waste of space he was. Since your appointment, I have visited the country only once, albeit briefly. I was there to mourn the death of my dad, and as such had little or no time to appraise you. But for all what I have read and listened from on line newspapers and radios, you look just as bad.

Under your watch, so many unsolved crimes are being perpetuated. We have read of police shooting and killing at will people in mining areas. We have read of our compatriots living in fear of thieves raiding them, having heard of such nefarious activities in their environs. Our folks back home do recount horrible stories of how your men shot and killed some youths in the Wellington area, just because they decided to stand the post for their neighbours. We are au fait with stories of cowardly criminals mugging Okada drivers, who toil day and night to ease the people of their transportation woes, into their lairs. And yet, these unforgivable crimes are subconsciously becoming the vogue of present day Sierra Leone.

Tempted as one might to blame this on the inevitable aftermath of war, the behaviours of the political elite who should serve as the great and good leave a bad taste in one’s mouth. Under your command, stories have made the headlines about parties vandalising and/or causing grievous bodily harm to each other’s structures or supporters. Of politicians walking into radio houses interrupting or putting the radio off air, just because broadcasts do not favour their selfish agenda. Of parliamentary hopefuls traversing an entire district beating up elders who they deemed are against them. We have heard of male aspirants bullying a female candidate into submission by threatening to cut her throat for daring to contest against them. And what about a defence minister being molested by so-called Wounded in Action combatants for venturing to dialogue with them?

Gut-wrenching tales have been told of politicians pelting faeces at each other, (just as kids would trade water bombs at a summer camp), for the sake of winning party symbols. I thought with the end of the war, Lt. ‘Kaka-Scatter’ was extinct. Lo and behold, his appellatives in political-suits still run riot. What is revolting about this subhuman behaviour is the fact that while the nation is grappling with a cholera epidemic those cretins found it commonplace to bathe themselves with some age-old bulgur-laden poo. Urgh!

Mr. Inspector General, what really occasioned me to write you this letter, was an incident I witnessed on a live online broadcast few hours ago (courtesy an Arab link). Immediately after the Leone Stars Vs Tunisia match; spectators jumped from those several metres high pavilions onto the field. To celebrate what? A lacklustred 2-2 draw? Don’t you think this is worrying Mr. IG? I was and still remain curious about that hyped up spontaneous celebration. Don’t you think the players from both sides were vulnerable? Did you have your heart in your mouth like mine was? What if those unwelcome ‘cheer leaders’ were common criminals, aiming to cause havoc on the players or officials? What if a stampede had happened? Do you know the ripple effect that might come out of that celebration? The National Stadium; our only recognized stadium could be banned if Mr. Blatter and his ‘football family’ decide to be ruthless with us. Where is the Force for Good? I thought your men should be alert at all times, and robustly deal with such security risks promptly.

Okay, let us say your men could not have survived the multitude, even though that would be a flimsy excuse. But hear this. If it does not make you sit up, I wonder what would. First, let, me digress. In 2002, Foday Saybanah Sankoh, the embattled RUF leader had the audacity to brag openly, including marching into Police HQ, threatening to topple the government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Complacently, we all said he was mad, until the penny really dropped. Now, back to my subject. Before September 1; this year, I had read online stories about the tale of two ignoble politicians: Mohamed Bangura of the UDM and Cherinor Bah of NDA. While there is nothing much to write home about our politicians, what was of concern to me was the seemingly criminal connivance of your officers in the matter. Mr. IG, I am sure you would have been informed of how Mr. Bangura threatened to slap Mr. Bah in front of your officers if he dared repeat a certain sentence again, while Mr. Bah on the other hand unwittingly gave sensitive information to your officers; that Bambay Kamara and 28 others were responsible for their own deaths. When I read the stories on line, I was missing some vital links, until the night of September 1. These guys continued their threat onto Star Radio during the programme Monologue, hosted by respectable journalist David Tam-Bayoh. If these guys thought only Sierra Leoneans at home were listening, well I have got news for you Mr. IG and them. The world was listening. Mr. Bangura continued his threat to slap, while Mr. Bah held on to his warped views. And guess what? In this entire furore, the Sierra Leone Police were left looking like a lame duck. It was confirmed during that radio discussion that your officers were present when Bangura, who went in search of a missing cow took the laws into his own hands, while Bah, who was a mere surety for the finding of the missing cow, gave answers to questions Sierra Leoneans have been asking all along.

Mr. IG, do you have a Face Book account? If you do not, I am pleading with you to try and set up one now. If you had, you would have sensed how unhappy Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora were, about their politicians and the ineptitude of the police force. The least everyone expected was for your officers to have reprimanded Mr. Bangura with a caution for his threat to cause grievous bodily harm to another person. As for Mr. Bah, we would have loved to hear that flamboyant police cliché of him “helping the police with their investigations”. I don’t know what steps your men have taken. Because things happen behind closed doors these days, I will give you the benefit of the doubt.

But Sir, you will agree with me that all the instances mentioned above demand urgent police attention if our people should be assured that they are living in a country that is safe, wouldn’t you? For most of the incidents, your men have proved wanting. I am not querying your Modus Operandi, but all I do know is that some of the incidents require just a minimum of police vigilance and enforcement of the law.

I do not believe in stereotyping people, and as such, I will not for now put you in the same class as your predecessor; Acha Kamara. However, I wish to politely inform you that you and your men are too complacent for the good of the country.

Thanks for audience.

Your compatriot,

Saidu Kaye Sesay

London, England.