Sierra Leone is fast becoming the murder capital of West Africa

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 December 2016

Communities around Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone are tonight gripped by fear and shock after the brutal murder last night of another well know public figure –  the highly acclaimed Barrister Imran Rahman. (Photo: President Ernest Bai Koroma).

The former Magistrate and Barrister is reported by police to have been strangled at his home by unknown armed men who broke into the house in Marjay Town in the west of Freetown.

His death comes just two days after the retired head of the country’s military – Lieutenant General S.O. Williams, was shot dead by armed men at his home in the east of the capital. Police are still investigating his killing.

Lawyer Rahman was aged 78 and comes from the very popular Rahman family in the Foulah Town community of eastern Freetown.

His murder has once again raised serious questions about the ability of the Koroma government in running the country, as well as the capacity of the police in maintaining law and order in the capital Freetown. How safe is Freetown tonight?

If top military men and senior lawyers are not safe in Sierra Leone, then what chance do ordinary men and women have in their own homes? (Photo: Barrister Imran Rahman).

Since coming to power in 2007, president Koroma has failed to stem the rising levels of serious crime in Sierra Leone, including armed robbery, hijacking, and brutal murders.

In his end of year speech delivered to the people of Sierra Leone in 2015, president Koroma mentioned the alarming rise in lawlessness, and promised to do whatever it takes to bring law and order to the country.

But it seems the president has woefully failed the people of Sierra Leone and the international community, that has invested millions of dollars in promoting law and order as well as building the capacity of the judiciary and criminal justice system.

Sierra Leone is ranked in the Global Human Development Index as one of the poorest nations in the world, and by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt countries in Africa.

Soon the country will be ranked as one of the most dangerous nations in the world, and the murder capital of Africa, if the current senseless killing continues.

Few overseas investors are brave enough to invest their capital in Sierra Leone today, with the exception of the chinese – whose imported security experts are looking after the chinese community, despite recent improvement in the country’s business environment.

Two weeks ago, the residence of the popular opposition politician and one of the aspiring presidential candidates for the SLPP – Alie Kabba, was attacked by heavily armed men in military uniform in the capital Freetown. No one has been arrested for that attack.

The current spate of high profile murders will only serve to drive away investors from Sierra Leone to other West African countries where their capital will be safer.

As the Koroma government continues to lose control of the streets of the capital to armed gangs, one has to wonder how long before they start planning armed insurrection against the government itself?

No government should sit idly by and watch the lives of its citizens routinely snuffed away by criminals, in such despicable, cold blooded and brutal manner.

Whilst the ruling APC party may be enjoying enormous political capital from large sections of the unemployed youths, the president must remember that turning a blind eye to criminality simply to curry votes at elections is morally wrong, if not damn right unconstitutional.

Those of us that have campaigned against the reintroduction of the death penalty for those found guilty beyond all reasonable doubt by a court of law, are now calling for the government to bring back the death penalty.

If this is what has to be done and quickly, in order to restore confidence on the streets and in the homes of citizens, as well as guarantee public safety, then so be it.

Of course the government should have done more to diversify the economy, so that jobs can be created for the millions of young people that are out of work in the country.

But it seems there is a growing number of hard core criminals that would continue to kill their fellow citizens for their property, regardless of their employment status.

Two months ago the minister of the interior – Palo Conteh, a man many would not trust with the key to the gallows, announced that he has completed the refurbishment of the gallows.

Well if he had thought then that his public show of the newly refurbished gallows, would serve as a deterrent to murderers, then he too must be in a state of shock tonight after the killing of Barrister Rahman in cold blood.

The blood of the former head of the military and Barrister Rahman is in the hands of Minister Palo Conteh (Photo).

Both he and the chief of police – Francis Munu, must go out there and bring those responsible for all the recent murders in the capital to justice.

According to police report, a few suspects were earlier today arrested at Funkia Junction in the west of the capital.

The suspects were driving the stolen vehicle of Barrister Rahman.

Such is the brazenness of the criminals in Freetown today. Are they hired by highly connected individuals in the country to go out and steal from the rich and to assassinate?

What is tonight puzzling analysts is the question as to why is it that, whenever the All People’s Congress Party (APC) is in power, Sierra Leone is at risk of becoming a failed state – characterised by  lawlessness, armed robbery, violence, breakdown of law and order in society, and the flagrant abuse of power with impunity by those in authority?

As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission found in its enquiry, the seeds of the brutal ten year civil war in Sierra Leone were sown in the 1970s and 1980s by the ruling APC. And it seems very little has changed today.

Poverty, mass unemployment, thuggery, armed robbery, highway robbery, street violence, mental disorder, drugs and alcohol abuse, are changing the psyche of young people into highly dangerous, professional and hardened criminals.

Soon they will be large enough in numbers and brave enough too, to turn their weapons against the government as rebels. No one should want this for Sierra Leone. But it seems the choice once again, remains with the Koroma government.

As 2016 comes to a close, we must ask: Where is Sierra Leone heading?

May the soul of Barrister Rahman rest in perfect peace.

8 Comments

  1. Wow, is this a joke or the reality of the issue? Well, there are those who are imprisoned in their homes by very co-ordinated groups or clicks that they steal from, kill or destroy so that they too can survive in mansions and drive cars they didn’t buy. We must step up if we are law abiding and patriotic Sierra Leoneans. Thank God this is not orders from above.

  2. In my observation I think the police are involved in these killings. Therefore, arresting the killers is something that the police don’t want to do, fearing that the culprits will name the people that are behind their killings.

    Blaming the president is one thing, investigating the police is another. The death penalty should be enforced again in Sierra Leone, if not the country will be in trouble by those murderers that are supported by the police in general.

  3. We do not need any outsider, including the U.N., to come to solve our problems, especially those that are internal in nature, which the increasing murder rate is. To do this is an admission of a lack of will power and intelligence to solve our own problems – like a child forever running to mama when pushed by another child on the playground to complain and expecting mama to do the fighting .

    Earnest Koroma as leader, is quite simply a wimp that cannot be relied on at critical moments to give the nation the kind of leadership which it needs to overcome whatever problem it faces, while not abusing the rule of law and the constitution.

    One would expect a true leader at a dismal moment like this, with the nation on edge, to hold a press conference to assure the nation of his commitment to protect every sierra Leonean with tenacity and ruthlessness within the law.

    Hot on the heels of such a press conference the President should summon the head of the police force to his office and tell him in forceful tones that all current and past murder cases have to be solved or it is his job. This should be made to make national news.

    With his job on the line, Francis Munu, inspector-general of police will for once make an effort to do something worthy of the uniform he puts on every morning to go to his office.

    But it seems Ernest Koroma has set very low standards for his administration which is why Francis Munu has survived in his job for so long . In the absence of such low standards one is shoved into entertaining the idea that some of the murders may well be conspiratorial, especially when it involves a figure such as the former head of the army.

    Violence runs through the veins of APC if history is any guide. We should not forget this fact. S.L Bangura – governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone – do we remember him? M.S.Forna, Ibrahim Taqui and many others – do we remember them? Framing a chosen victim is nothing new to APC.

    Where is SLPP in all this? They are on a slippery slope to an implosion. They do not have time to oppose. Let us look for a third force.

  4. Sierra Leone used to be the financial capital for all West Africans and beyond. Why are we still backward? Why are our minerals heading to the wrong people? These people do not have love for Sierra Leone and the people Of Sierra Leone.

  5. What is the international community doing about this? Are they waiting for Sierra Leoneans to go to war before they realise that this government is misbehaving?

  6. Why Sierra Leone is always heading backwards? While other Africa countries are moving forward with good governance, and all the other good stuffs that you are thinking about a government should provide for it’s citizens .

  7. Those who can recall the history of politics in Sierra Leone, as mentioned in my book, THE ORIGINS AND SOLUTIONS TO REBEL CONFLICTS IN AFRICA (The Sierra Leone Chapter), one can recall that, the eleven years of rebel conflict which was started by Foday Sankoh came into action and became effective when Foday Sankoh capitalised on the unsafe of life’s conditions that emerged in the country under APC’s Siaka Stevens and inherited by J.S.Momoh.

    On 23 March 1971, a group of soldiers loyal to the executed Brigadier Bangura held a mutiny in the capital Freetown and in some other parts of the country, in opposition to Stevens’ government. Several soldiers were arrested for their involvement in the mutiny, including Corporal Foday Sankoh who was convicted and jailed for seven years at Freetown’s Pademba Road Prison.

    In April 1971, a new republican constitution was adopted under which Stevens became President. In the 1972 by-elections the opposition SLPP complained of intimidation and procedural obstruction by the APC and their militia. These problems became so severe that the SLPP boycotted the 1973 general elections, and as a result the APC won 84 of the 85 seats.

    Corporal Foday Sankoh finally got released from prison, but did not return to his Northern Province home, but headed for Segbwema – closer to the Liberian border where he engaged himself in bogus photography to study the local terrain properly, so as to launch his rebel attack from an area that was easier for him to escape to his friend President Charles Taylor of Liberia.

    The question as the editor, Abdul Rashid Thomas asks at the end of this article (“As 2016 comes to a close, we must ask: Where is Sierra Leone heading?”) especially over the killings of the very important figures in the country now-a-days, is driving many reasonable Sierra Leoneans into concluding and the fear that we may be facing a second phase of the Sierra Leone civil war, as long as the All Peoples Congress (APC) remains in power.

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