In September 2007, when Pres. Koroma took an oath of office to preserve, support, maintain and defend the constitution, one of the significant sections which ordinary people have always relied on is section (5) subsection (2) paragraph (b) which declares that “the security, peace, and welfare of the people of Sierra Leone shall be the PRIMARY purpose and RESPONSIBILITY of government, and to this end it shall be the duty of Armed Forces, the Police, Public Officers and all security agents to protect and safeguard the people of Sierra Leone”. Therefore, since swearing of that oath the President has had a duty of care to protect every life and property of Sierra Leoneans but the question remains: what has happened to that responsibility in the wake of the violent deaths of ordinary people, the alarming rate of armed robberies and the heightened level of lawlessness?
To start with, recent events now make it obvious that it was an error of judgement by the President to spend $4.5 million to purchase arms and ammunition for the police which have clearly failed to perform their most fundamental duty. Rightly or wrongly, this purchase of arms and ammunition by Pres. Koroma would have been seen by many police officers as a signal to capacitate their BULLISH attitude. Yes, we have some decent police officers in the force but we equally have others who hardly operate within code of conduct of the force. As such, we have police officers who have the unenviable record of pressing triggers at their own people at the slightest opportunity as evident in: the Tongo field bye-elections; the shooting at bike riders in Port Loko in November 2010; the shootouts at APC’s intra-party running mate fighting in Kono; the firing of protesters which resulted in the death of two against Koidu Holdings in December 2007; the shooting which led to the eventual death of the bike rider in Bo by OSD personnel on the 9th September 2011; the shooting and eventual death of defenceless civilians including a woman during the industrial strike against African Minerals in April 2012; the recent shooting of two young men with AK47 in Wellington and the most recent killing of Mohamed Quares, the Bike rider at Adonkia, Goderich. We must never forget those who have died in these tragic circumstances and others who continue to live with the injuries. Therefore, the questions for President Koroma who took an oath for the security and welfare of the people are: how would you have maintained the security and welfare of the people by purchasing $4.5 million arms and ammunition for the very police officers who would shoot at their own people at the slightest opportunity? Isn’t it obvious that ordinary people would think that the purchase of such large amount of arms and ammunition would have created an impression in the minds of police officers? Don’t you think Mr. President, that the $4.5 million could have been used to lessen the economic hardship for hard-pressed families and create jobs for young people? Mr. President, these are questions which people will continue to ask till November 17 and even as they go to cast their votes.
Similarly, even to the Coroner’s inquest that the president recently announced, many people would rightly ask many questions. The relatives of the late Abdulai Sesay (Bike Rider shot in Bo by OSD personnel during the attempted assassination of Maada Bio) would have asked why Pres. Koroma did not announce an immediate inquest after his death in September 2011 even after the Kelvin Lewis Report. The relatives of the woman who was shot in Bumbuna during the Strike against African Minerals in April would be asking why Pres. Koroma did not announce an immediate inquest after her death. Rightly, the SLPP, as a responsible opposition, in its recent press briefing refers to this issue as “APC Notorious Hypocrisy”. Mr. President we must neither play politics with the deceased who lost their lives in such tragic circumstances nor with the emotions of families who have lost those loved ones.
And now to the issue of armed robbery which bothers on the security of ordinary people and thus becoming very alarming. Mr. President, the only thing worse than a nightmare at night is when people go to bed but would not close their eyes because of fear that someone may break into their house to cart away their property and hurt them. And when young people form vigilante groups to protect their community against armed robbers, it is a disturbing indictment of the police force even though President Koroma recently told them that they would be receiving a bag of rice monthly for their “wonderful” jobs. Does someone whisper the politics of a bag of rice? Well, at least the bag of rice has won over the officers’ wives who I am told have declared for the President. On a more serious note, when the Minister of Internal Affairs and the Police displayed 75 supposed armed robbers last week, for ordinary people, who are victims night after night, it might have been seen as a public relation stunt. Maybe, the APC government could have done more to convince the watching public if they had caught the two (2) runaway APC councillors whom the respectable AWOKO Newspaper reported to be involved in the whopping Le217 million highway robbery of the Rokel Commercial Mobile Bank Vehicle in May. This APC government just does not get it: how can ordinary people trust this APC government on arm robbery when they can’t even catch their own APC councillors involving in robbery?
Another issue which seems to threaten our peace and has become very prominent under President Koroma’s leadership has been inter-ethnic violence; the most recent has been the clash between Mandigos and Limbas in Bombali. For months now, a certain section of our local media which supports Pres. Koroma is deliberately preaching HATE messages against the Mendes and South easterners. We would have expected President Koroma to disassociate himself from such type of journalism. Unfortunately, the President has not done so thinking of the political ramification to fall out with a key ally few months to a crucial election. And this is why it was unsurprising to many of us that President Koroma was reportedly smiling in approval when Issa “Coachie” Mansaray recently said Mende people are STUPID. Yes, the usual damage limitation followed with reports that Pres. Koroma made a “speedy intervention” but many Sierra Leoneans who watched the programme on TV would have subscribed to the Global Times report on the incident which states “Perhaps the most disquieting and provocative of all was the sight of His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma who was full of broad smile with his face beaming with false sense of blessedness and peace as his people insulted the largest tribe in the country. President Koroma is under oath of the Sierra Leone Constitution to preserve national peace and unity among his people without fear or favour; he is father of the nation and not to any particular tribe, region, religion or group”. Well, this is why people are asking: what has happened to the oath you took Mr. President?
Therefore, as I end this piece let me remind our people that the forthcoming presidential election provides us an opportunity to have a new president in Rt. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio who will never spend $4.5 million to purchase arms and ammunition when 72% of the people live on less than a dollar a day; a new president who will never politicise the police force but rather reform the force so that instead of being a THREAT to the lives of their own people they can protect the people’s lives and properties; a new president who will never play politics with the tragic deaths of his own people nor with the emotions of families who have lost loved ones through a coroner’s inquest and a new president who will never smile in approval when a person describes people of a particular tribe as stupid but rather use every opportunity to preach the SLPP slogan of one people one country. Yes, we need a man who has had the experience of being a former head of state who understands that the PRIMARY PURPOSE and RESPONSIBILITY of a government is the SECURITY, PEACE and WELFARE of the people. That man is the Rt. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio and he has chosen the dynamic Dr. Kadie Sesay as his vice presidential hopeful to form the next SLPP government for the SECURITY, PEACE and WELFARE of every Sierra Leonean.