Salone News

Sierra Leone Police: Heads May Soon Roll.

23 November 2006 at 03:05 | 676 views

By Our Correspondent.

Government officials and many members of the public in Freetown and other parts of the country are living in fear following the recent escape from detention of private Abdul Sesay, a former RUF fighter now a member of the Sierra Leone armed forces.

Sesay was allegedly caught recently with some deadly weapons and state security had hinted that he was part of a wider conspiracy to destabilize the country. But while he was undergoing interrogation at a “detention centre” at Jui, outside Freetown, Sesay disappeared into thin air while still handcuffed.

This totally unexpected occurrence has thrown Freetown into panic with many people fearing for their lives due to the horrible reputation of RUF fighters and their penchant and ability to create disorder and chaos. Apparently rattled, officials of the ruling SLPP government quickly condemned what they perceived as the carelessness of the police and demanded explanations, the re-arrest of the detainee and sanctions. Vice President Berewa then weighed in by demanding an investigation and a quick resolution of the security lapse. Meanwhile Sesay remains at large.

The incident has also sparked a storm of protest from the usually jittery and jumpy Sierra Leonean public with some people demanding the immediate resignation or dismissal of Inspector General of Police Brima Acha Kamara(photo).

What is clear however is that heads will soon roll in the hierarchy of the Sierra Leone police whether fugitive Sesay is found or not. Acha, whose appointment was recommended by former IGP Keith Biddle has never been trusted by many SLPP supporters because of spurious reasons like his ethnicity and place of birth. Of course the people who supervised the Sesay interrogation and detention will also have some questions to answer as the drama unfolds. Acha himself, shorn of his usual bravado and bluster, has contritely appealed to the public to remain calm and to see the incident as the work of some bad eggs in the police force. He described the circumstances of Sesay’s escape as very complex and mysterious.

Some political pundits have presented another angle to the messy imbroglio.They assert that the SLPP as a party is very scared of the forthcoming election and would like to have an IGP they can fully trust or manipulate and Acha obviously does not fit that bill.They further claim Acha’s enemies may have orchestrated Sesay’s escape. SLPP supporters the Vanguard contacted have angrily dismissed this angle as yet another example of the nonsensical conspiracy theories flying around the country these days.

What remains to be seen is whether president Kabbah would succumb to public and party pressure and fire Acha now or before he leaves office in July next year.However,notwithstanding politics, tribalism or whatever,it would be difficult for Acha to save his neck in this instance as it is clearly a case of gross incompetence by members of the Sierra Leone police of which he is the head.

This is not the first time a high profile detainee or prisoner has escaped in Sierra Leone. Hardened criminals routinely escape from Freetown’s notorious Pademba Road prison. The late RUF leader Foday Sankoh disappeared and was sought for several weeks by Sierra Leone’s state security until his capture by former AFRC leader Johnny Paul Koroma’s men. Johnny Paul himself, following his indictment by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, quietly disappeared in Freetown several years ago and has not been seen since. There were however rumours in the country that he had been killed by former president Charles Taylor’s men in Liberia.