By Oswald Hanciles, Freetown.
The Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), Francis Munu, on Friday, 25th May, 2012, told the crowd of people at the police field in Kingtom, Freetown, that the 52 vehicles and communication sets symbolically handed over to the SLP by President Ernest Bai Koroma manifest the operational readiness of the police to prevent, and quickly neutralize, any violence that could erupt during the upcoming November 2012 General Elections; and vitally, he said the equipment would serve as a deterrent to whoever could have been plotting to plunge the country into violence.
With characteristic erudition, in his rich baritone, I.G. Munu (photo) told admiring crowds that the general trend in the world today is that “development and security are inextricably linked”, so, the police vehicles and communication are which are meant to secure the state consistent with the developmental ethos of President Koroma’s Agenda for Change.
In the presence of the Vice President, Hon. Sidique Sam-Sumana, the internal affairs minister, Hon. Musa Tarawaly, a demonstration was done of a state-of-the-art vehicle tracking system by Ibrahim Janneh, Managing Director of the Sierra Leonean-owned company, AFRO-TRACK; he was assisted by Inspector Sheku B. Koroma, Head of Information Technology in SLP headquarters. Using satellite and computerized systems, this technology can track all the 52 vehicles wherever they would be at any point in time; police monitors scanning a wide computer monitor can tell whether a vehicle is moving or stationary, how much use a vehicle has been put into, and when they can more easily call in reinforcements should the need arise; they can easily tell when a vehicle is due for maintenance. The vehicles could also be more easily directed to troubled spots. Such novel system which is taken for granted in the sophisticated Western countries evoked awe among onlookers in Freetown.
President Koroma said that because the police - like teachers, health workers and traditional leaders - represent the “face of the State”, they must always conduct themselves with integrity and dignity. He challenged the police to not only use the vehicles and equipment to deter or take action on election violence, but, to also “curb the scourge of armed robbery” which becomes more virulent during the rainy season; and to defuse escalating violence among the youth. He appealed to the police that with the vehicles received by them, and two new hospitals being built, and a bag of rice for police officers which he announced should be given to them “with immediate effect” (to wild applause from the police officers and, apparently, their relatives in the crowded field!), the people of Sierra Leone “....in return demand professionalism; the people demand that you secure their life and property in their homes, on their highways, in their communities..”
The I.G. of Police, Francis Munu allayed the fears of those who have been saving money to purchase tickets to travel overseas in fear of violence erupting during the November, 2012 elections that the police now has all it takes to contain violence. He also assured all political parties that the police would be “impartial”; and the police will “not do anything or fail to do anything to inhibit the chances of any political party winning the November 2012 elections”.