|Musa Tarawallie, Internal Affairs Minister|
The President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, has said in Freetown that Government Ministers and other State functionaries including members of the forces are not above the law, as he added that much is expected from those given positions of authority.
The Head of State was addressing State officials and senior members of his political party at his State House office in the wake of an unexpected pandemonium that erupted in Koidu in the Kono District, Eastern Sierra Leone, where the Internal Affairs Minister, Musa Tarawallie and entourage including Police Officers were visiting this past Saturday.
Koidu town became the center of confrontation when the Police contingent travelling with the Internal Affairs Minister fired gun shots in the air to apparently ward off a large number of youth who were milling around the township of Koidu. A very furious President warned Ministers and members of political parties, that the security of the State was more paramount than petty politics; at a time when the elections are still one year away. “I will not seat idly by and allow a handful of people who are supposed to know the provisions in our Constitution and who should also understand the need for the sustenance of peace to deliberately create a state of instability. I will take firm action against those people”.
The incident itself took place after the Government of Sierra Leone had celebrated the commissioning of the landing of the submarine fiber and the launching of the Biography of President Koroma, and at a time when the majority of Sierra Leoneans were celebrating after the Sierra Leone National football team the Leone Stars defeated the Pharaohs of Egypt. The celebrations were muted by the Koidu incident causing the President to express grave concern about the behavior of certain members of the public, especially politicians. The President added, “I am fed up with this state of political instability in Kono and the unwillingness of politicians in that district to work together, and I daresay that this is a very embarrassing episode for Sierra Leone.” The Head of State in addressing senior Government Officials and politicians of his All Peoples Congress, said on Monday that the culture of violence will be eradicated from the body- politic, and that as President, he would insist on the enforcement of discipline at all levels of society. “We should no longer develop a political class that has no regard for the safety of individual citizens and the security of the State and those things must be seen to be over”, the President said on Monday at his State House Office.
The Kono incident which resulted in running battles and the shooting of guns in the air, took place at a time when the President was admonishing all Sierra Leoneans to continue to set bright examples in the conduct of free and fair elections especially, as the 2012 elections were imminent. I will not allow violence to be perpetrated on the eve of a crucial election…an election that must be fair and violent free”. The Head of State further revealed that, “I have asked the Inspector -General of Police to thoroughly investigate the factors that led to the mayhem in Koidu and report to me immediately. If it becomes very clear that the violence was deliberately ignited by ill motivated people, such people will be charged to court as prescribed by our laws”. President Ernest Bai Koroma, also said on Monday that even men in uniform should as from now be very careful as to how they interact and relate with members of the public. He added that he took great exception to the sad news that some soldiers had an unnecessary confrontation with some journalists, causing some of the Journalists including the BBC Sports Reporter, Mohamed Farjah Barrie to be hospitalized. The President said in a very angry tone, “the Police will investigate this matter and action be taken against anybody who attacked the Journalists. I am a peaceful man, I do not believe in violence and my Government will never condone violence as I will give a free hand to the law enforcement agencies to firmly deal with anybody be you a civilian or a member of the forces who violate the human rights of citizens including Journalists.”
President Ernest Bai Koroma concluded when he emphasized that “the freedom which everybody now enjoys in Sierra Leone and the democracy which is now part of our culture should not be misunderstood as an occasion for reckless behavior. The President said that he had worked assiduously over the past four years to respect political opponents and members of the media .He stated, “for four years my Government has never arrested a political opponent and for the same four years my Government has never interfered with the activities of Journalists, and my Government has always given freedom of the Press a priority. However, any occasion, however isolated which suggests a violation of the rights of a citizen will firmly be resisted by my Government”.
The President pleaded with all Sierra Leoneans to work as one cohesive citizenry in the people’s effort to sustain peace and promote democracy.