Sierra Leone’s former military chief shot dead

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 December 2016

Sierra Leone’s former defence chief of staff lieutenant general Samuel Omar Williams was shot dead by unknown gunmen at his home in Freetown in the early hours of this morning, according to police report. (Photo: S.O Williams in the centre).

The military chief retired from the army in April 2016, after a snappy cabinet reshuffle by president Koroma in March this year, and was replaced by his assistant John Milton.

His assassination comes just few months after another former military chief of Sierra Leone Major General Claude Nelson Williams was kidnapped in Nigeria, by criminal gangs whilst serving as Sierra Leone’s deputy high commissioner to Nigeria. He was later released after the government paid what was understood to be a hefty ransom.

Reports of fatal gun violence on prominent public officials by criminals is rare in Sierra Leone.

But with a massive rise in armed robbery in the last ten years, there are fears the use of guns may also be rising.

Just last week the residence of one of the aspiring presidential candidates for the opposition SLPP party – Alie Kabba, was attacked by four gunmen.

No one was hurt in that attack. The police are said to be investigating.

In July, 2012, president Koroma – who is also the Commander-In-Chief of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces appointed S.O Williams as the country’s new Chief of Defence Staff (Photo).

The two  most senior positions in the military – Chief of Defence Staff and Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, were up to March this year, occupied by officers of Mende and Sherbro origin from the South-East.

S.O. Williams is a South-easterner of Mende/Sherbro origin, from Bonthe district. The current chief of staff John Milton is also from the south of the country.

There are no indications his assassination may have been politically motivated.

In his appointment as head of the military, president Koroma told Williams: “It is your responsibility to maintain high morals in the RSLAF. You have the task of ensuring that the RSLAF conducts itself in a professional manner during and after the elections slated for November this year.”

In reply, Williams said: “I am ready to protect the sovereignty of my country and make sure that the RSLAF will live up to the task.”

And in June 2015, chief of defence staff S.O. Williams and three other senior officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, were promoted to various ranks.

Addressing the officers, President Koroma said the day marks yet another milestone in the history of the military, as the newly promoted Lieutenant General Samuel Omar Williams has become the country’s first CDS to attain the rank, and also the 17th Defence Chief since Independence. He pointed out that what they have just witnessed manifests dedication to duty, commitment, loyalty and above all selfless sacrifice to humanity both locally and globally.

But less than ten months after his historical decoration, Williams was replaced by president Koroma at a cabinet reshuffle.

His predecessors include Brigadier Blakie (1957-62), Brigadier David Lansana (1962-67), Brigadier Juxon Smith (1967-68), Brigadier John Bangura (1968-71), Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh (1971-85), Major General MS Tarawallie (1985-92), Major General Jusu Gottor (1992-94), Brigadier Kellie Conteh (1994-95), Brigadier Julius Maada Bio (1995-96), Brigadier JOY Turay (1996-96), Brigadier Hassan Conteh (1996-97), Brigadier Maxwell Mitikishi Khobe (1998-2000), Major General Tom Carew (2000-04), Major General Edwin Sam-Mbomah (2004-08), Major General Alfred Claude Nelson-Williams (2008-10) and Major General Robert Yilla Koroma (2010-12).

Police in Freetown say that they have mounted a major manhunt for the killers of Sierra Leone’s highest ranking military general.

Massive youth unemployment and rising violence across the country, are posing serious threats to Sierra Leone’s security and stability.

Early this week, president Koroma met with his cabinet to discuss national security issues, as well as consider plans for the forthcoming elections in 2018.

6 Comments

  1. Methinks there is something fishy about S. O. Williams’ death. One does not have to be a Sherlock Holmes to figure this out.

    Whilst the murder of the late Barrister Imran Rahman can be attributed to the action of armed robbers of his “stolen vehicle”, nothing was reportedly stolen from the premises of the late Chief of Defence Staff.

    This points to assassination as the singular motive for the armed attack. I wish you Godspeed Lieutenant-General, RIP.

  2. It seems as though S.O was a sitting duck awaiting his assassination. He was never trusted by the APC alagbas who were suspicious of what he might do when APC decides to give President koroma a third term in office.

    S.O was not in favour of APC hanging on to power indefinitely and unconstitutionally. They were paranoid about the influence and support he still has in the military.

    They thought he could turn sections of the military against APC if they lose the 2018 elections and refuse to hand over power. This is classical political assassination.

  3. Have you spoken to eyewitness family sources about how he was assassinated? Do you know that his five assassins stole nothing from his premise ?

    Do you know that the assassins went away and came back after an hour to make sure he was dead while the police delayed their arrival at the crime scene by 2 hours?

    Do you know that the S.O. Williams had told some members of his family that his email had been hacked the week before he was assassinated?

    Do you know that police had manifested the same delayed arrival tactic as was the case of Ali Kabbah’s residence?

    Do you that another assassination took place in the same week of S.O. Williams’ assassination with the pattern of not stealing anything?

  4. I have said it in the past and I shall say it again: Sierra Leone is becoming one of the murder capitals of the world under Ernest Koroma, with no drastic action in sight either in the name of mitigation or thorough ruthless elimination.

    Impunity seems to be the only thing which can confront murderers. They know that Ernest Koroma, his police chief [Francis Munu] and the APC dominated parliament, lack the simple ability to craft laws to protect the citizenry from blood-thirsty monsters whose mentality is below that of animals in the jungle.

    Earlier in the year a young girl was raped and murdered at Lumley beach, an addition to a long catalogue of other murders which Francis Munu, with all his training and huge salary, has not been able to solve, and yet Ernest Koroma has kept him on all these years.

    If this does not depict the low standards which the President has set for himself and his employees, then I don’t know what does.

    A life is a life. No human being’s life is worth more than anyone else’s. It is the responsibility of any government to protect and defend the life of all its people. Governments who adhere to this fundamental principle and have the capability, are even ready to start a war over any of their nationals that has been harmed abroad.

    Those of us who are students of contemporary world history can still recall the daring Israeli operation in Uganda to free their citizens, whose plane had been hijacked and forced to fly to that country.

    Politically, Siaka Stevens was not my cup of tea. But one thing I shall always say in his favour is that he knew how to ruthlessly deal with a situation that was getting out of control. He would offer positive leadership when it mattered most. Had he directed his talent to the advancement of Sierra Leone, we could have been another Singapore by now.

    But unrefined corruption would not let Stevens, and he allowed it to affect all facets of society so that by the time age had caught up with him, forcing him out of office, Sierra Leone was bleeding to death.

    When will we get forceful leadership from Ernest Koroma to make us feel safe wherever we may be, including our homes?

    A top soldier [once a soldier always a soldier] has been murdered. Will the President come out for once and issue a statement, rather than rely on a subordinate?

    • I am a Sierra Leonean living abroad and we are very scared of visiting our beautiful country.

      Sierra Leone has very poor leadership skills, very poor management government, broken country, bad policing, no rule of Law. Money is the problem solving of laws in Sierra Leone, too much killing innocent poor people trying to survive on a daily basis.

      Armed robbery is taking place with guns every day in Sierra Leone. For every country to achieve safety and good standard of security, the president has to lead by example by giving sentences to anyone who is misleading the people – starting from the government employees/employers and every one that serves government.

      The killing of peaceful citizens in their own house in front of their children is terrible. Sierra Leone is the worst country to settle in or even visit. The government does not do anything about killing people.

      This is too much after 12 years of civil war still no changes because of selfishness, greed, family/friends in government position they are not qualified for. For once African government give the right people with relevant qualified certificate

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