Armed soldiers stormed police station in Freetown to free a senior military officer

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 April 2017

There was pandemonium outside a local police station in the east of Freetown this week when armed soldiers got off a military truck and stormed Ross Road police station, apparently to free a senior military officer who had been arrested and was being held in custody.

Since coming to power in 2007, observers say that the ruling APC party have failed to instill law and order in the country, an issue that is much talked about by the president, but with little action to curb the growing menace of lawlessness. But who would expect the military and the police force to behave like heavily armed renegade cowboys in the ‘wild west’, putting the lives of those inside the police station and pedestrians at risk.

According to eye witness reports corroborated by a video published here, the shocking level of violent behaviour seen outside the station raise serious questions about the professionalism and conduct of officers upon whose shoulders the protection and safety of citizens depend.

Unofficial account of what actually triggered the violent rampage is sketchy, but this is what a source reported:

“On the evening of Easter Monday, 17th April 2017, police in Freetown intercepted a motorbike driven by Private Soldier Mohamed Foreka, with Major Abu Bockarie Kanu sitting at the back, in the central business district of the capital Freetown, where riding a motorbike carrying a passenger had been banned.

They were stopped, breathalysed and found to be very drunk. Both officers were taken to the Ross Road police station where they were kept in custody till the morning for their safety.

“But Major Abu Bockarie Kanu who was very unhappy about his arrest, woke up and realised he had slept in a police station, telephoned his soldiers at the Armed Forces Artillery Unit at Benguema for rescue.

“In response to his command, a vehicle with over twenty soldiers stormed the Ross Road Police Station and assaulted police personnel on duty. They also destroyed some of their phones when they noticed the police were recording their misconduct.

“They forcefully entered the Station and removed Major Abu Bockarie Kanu and Private 18182209 Mohamed Foreka, both of the Armed Forces Artillery Unit of the RSLAF at Benguema from police custody, after assaulting, insulting and damaging police property in full view of members of the public.

“By the time the Regional Police Commander arrived at the scene, they had fled. They misbehaved so much that the Magistrate Court directly facing the Police Station had to suspend their sittings, as it was not possible to continue amid the chaotic and riotous behaviour

“The soldiers shouted that they want the Regional Commander to present herself so they can kill her. That was when the OSD Police Officers went to take up their arms for a showdown. It could have been deadly had Supt. Williams not been there to keep his men under control and prevent the bad situation getting uglier.”

This is like watching a Western Cowboy movie, starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. Is this Sierra Leone, after ten years of brutal civil war, which left hundreds of thousands dead and millions of people homeless?

Has the ruling APC been in office for far too long that they are no longer capable of governing Sierra Leone? The people of Sierra Leone are going to the polls on the 8th of March 2018, they will decide.

Watch the video of the violence here:

2 Comments

  1. This is scandalous! It reminds one that the army has an inglorious (recent) past. The head of the army, John Milton must institute a strong disciplinary action against those barbaric soldiers. It is a test case to see what stuff he is made of.

    His predecessor, the late Samuel Omar Williams would never have condoned such shameful and unprofessional behaviour. Those “cowboys” must be rusticated from the army.

  2. This is a clear manifestation of anarchy in our beloved country. I believe the current interior minister (Palo Conteh) who also happens to be the former head of the military is in a unique position to hold those responsible to account for once again putting this traumatic nation on the brink of another disaster.

    Please Mr. Palo Conteh instead of spending your time trying to protect your Limba people against future violence (as you stated in a video clip), try to restore peace, law and order which your party (APC) inherited from the Sierra Leone People’s Party.

    We hope and pray that the “Sobels” (soldiers converted to rebels) who were the products of former president Joseph Saidu Momoh and former head of state Johnny Paul (both Limbas) are not trying to make a comeback.

    Based on your recent record, I believe you are a very competent leader as proven during the Ebola outbreak, and in handling the click boys and okada riders. So I believe you can also put a stop to this unfortunate situation.

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