An Open Letter to Willam Fayia Sellu – Sierra Leone’s new Inspector General of Police

Jaime Yaya Barry: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 July 2022:

Dear IG Willam Fayia Sellu. Today, you take over the nation’s police leadership. There’s no doubt that you are taking up a difficult job in one of the most challenging times in our country’s recent history. Over the years, the Sierra Leone Police force has been on top of discussions on national issues, most of them for the wrong reasons.

There have been concerns about the independence of our national police, their professional conduct, their human rights record, integrity, and ability to deal with national security issues without further escalating them. In short, the police have had a terrible reputation from the public, from the people they swore to serve. I know you are no stranger to many of these issues.

I firmly believe that we still have many women and men in our police force who are disciplined, competent, professional, and respect the rule of law. Unfortunately, the rotten eggs, mainly driven by poor leadership, have overshadowed the attitude and tremendous contributions of the good ones.

If there’s one significant area where Sierra Leone truly deserves good leadership, it will be in our police force. This may sound too heavy a burden and probably unfair to you when considering the many leadership gaps in different sectors of the country. While this remains true, the leadership of the national police will go in many ways in shaping the decisions along several of those gaps.

I have seen colleagues who have been very critical of the police and even lost faith in any possible sector reform say and write beautiful things about you. I saw how mentioning your name as Sierra Leone’s new Inspector General of Police brought a renewed hope to them. While many of us remain critical of President Bio’s leadership, we are thrilled that he finally heeded our many calls to remove ex-IG Sovula.

To put it simply, Sovula was bad for our country’s democracy and threatened our national security and peace. I don’t know the numerous private decisions he took, but, like many IGs before him, the reputation of the police force under his watch was nothing to be proud of as a country.

But this is no longer about Sovula and past IGs

The staff is now in your hands. And thankfully, I heard you served President Kaba and worked closely with him. I don’t have to tell you how much our nation loves and cherishes Pa Kaba. We hope that you saw what a true leader he was and what serving the nation meant to him. And while I know our country is far from having a handsome Inspector General of police, I do not doubt that this may be the beginning of a long list of Inspector Generals of Police that we will be proud of as we are of your former boss, President Kaba.

Please do not mind us calling Sovula the People’s IG. He is nowhere close to being one, and he knows that. Amid all his atrocities on the people, we want to be resilient by remembering the one word he mumbled the most- People – even if he had no respect for it.

As you take over the leadership of the police, I wish you nothing but the very best. I pray the Almighty guides your every decision. I pray God blesses you with wisdom and the leadership skills to deal with our national security issues. I pray you only take “orders from above” if they are in the country’s and people’s interest.

I pray that you restore the dignity, integrity, and professionalism of the Sierra Leone Police. May you be the true People’s IG. May you be blessed with compassion. May you lead by example. I pray that you may be blessed with the courage to allow the people of Sierra Leone to enjoy their civil liberties, including the right to protest, the right to free speech, free movement, and among other rights, the right to petition the government and you whenever they feel aggrieved.

Please permit me to end with this note that it was because you answered the call to serve your country some odd years ago that earned you today the nation’s highest seat in the police force. And while you must be respectful and humbled by the decision of His Excellency the President to appoint you as Inspector General of Police, your loyalty MUST always remain to the nation and the people.

No one did you a favour to appoint you that you must pay back. You must be proud of where you are today because you first answered the nation’s call to serve.

So, even if you are to serve as IG for just a day or a year, the people of this great nation will remember you for what you did. And may we remember you for the right reasons.

Be assured of our unflinching support and holding you to account where need be.

Thank you for answering the call to serve.

Respectfully,

Jaime Yaya Barry

 

17 Comments

  1. The question is, is this letter for our consumption on this forum or was a copy sent to the new IG and the press copied? As far as I know, the new has never visited this online paper. I know that he was a pen pusher himself (ask Kevin Lewis of Awoko) before he joined the Police. And his pen was mighty! If you want to write a letter to someone the letter should be posted to him and or publish in his widely read paper or forum. My conclusion is that this is meant for the regulars here. And before you question me, the new IG was a college mate and a squad mate. No more with the Police though!

  2. Hello Mr. Santhkie Sorie, thanks a lot for the clarification on your name. Brief but linguistically interesting.

  3. Mr Koineh, I am SANTHKIE NOT SANTIKIE OR SANTIGIE because I am Temene (Thaimne) If I were Loko or Limba I would be called Santigie; it’s the same name but pronounced differently by different ethnic groups.

    You have made the scene as it relates to the departure of Ambrose Sovula more murky by claiming that he willingly stepped aside after belatedly realising that he was below par; for a PhD holder that took too long. So then, as far as you know, was Sovula sacked, retired or he chose to step aside? Don’t forget that whoever heads any institution unequivocally accepts vicarious liability – whether they like it or not. Former IG Sovula might have partially engineered his own downfall by not tapping unconventional skills to make the container allegedly carrying illegal drugs disappear behind his office at Geoge Street – poor fellow. He disappointed his boss (Bio) and other powers that be whose hands were deep in the container and was let go. If William Sellu wants to keep his job for a longer period he should be more street smart than his predecessor – a “sabisman”.

  4. I did say here a few days ago that “**** long tae ee mos cut” and remarked about the ephemeral nature of human affairs. For whatever reasons, be it -retirement, incompetence, Bambay Kamara-esque heavy-handedness or shady deals to fund a pension pot, Ngor Ambrose has been pushed away from the firing line. Thee President must be patted lightly on the back as my manners allow me to learn to give any minuscule of credit to any one if deemed necessary. The silver lining for the fake doctor is that this might just have saved him from a fate similar to one of his notorious predecessors in the 80s/90s. You all know the one i have in mind.

    Now i could see you are pinning hope on the new Inspector General or keeping your fingers crossed for him to make the SLPP, oh sorry, the SLP, for once a force for good to live up to its motto or billing. I am not holding any bated breath even for a second. I would only if this appointment is immediately followed by reforming and strengthening the independent police board that should perform oversight, investigative and punitive functions over the SLP for any actions or omissions that falls far short of any standards or expectations of a force for good.

    http://www.ipcb.gov.sl/

    If all those who have been unlawfully detained could seek redress, compensation or restitution for infringement upon their human or constitutional rights from such a powerful body, the SLP will think twice and use risk assessments as part of their management strategies before embarking on any of their gung-ho operations as the risk of financial penalty or litigation will always loom large over their heads.

    Now that the burly Inspector General has veen stripped of one of his titles, will he be stripped of the other one he has coveted his whole life? I mean the philosophie doctor from the fast-churning degree mill.

  5. Squire J. Koroma, it’s absurd you consider the offering of an advice to a public servant by the citizenry as ‘unpatriotic & intimidating’. Who exactly do you think the police boss is serving? The president or the citizens? You indeed seem confuse, and incoherent. Sometimes it is better to stay mute if you have nothing valuable to add to a debate!!!

  6. ” Best player nor dae fet for vest”. A school should not exit only to teach, but also to investigate, not to formulate prematurely a finalized system. Go on to test theories by applying them and validating ideas by experience.

  7. Hats up, Jamie Yaya Barry for your bold and timely letter to our new Inspector General of police. My humble view about what constitutes good police performance include, among others, common sense, mature judgement and the ability to react quickly and effectively to problem situations. In my estimation, the generally recognized roles of the police officer are public service, law enforcement and maintenance of social order. Thus, in modern societies, police work is important not only in preventing crime and disorder but where there is good leadership, police work may also improve the welfare of the community, resulting in social harmony. It’s my understanding that for any police force to be credible and successful , it has to inculcate high respect for individual rights, worth and dignity.
    Our new IG should bear in mind that like his predecessors, he will be judged in and out of office.

  8. Mr Barrie is presenting us with an idealistic manifesto for the new IG. Of course, I share similar sentiments…yet we cannot but consider this truth. The Sierra Leone Police’ most critical flaw is it’s interpretation of its mandate; the post colonial extraction economic system specifically uses the police to protect its interests. The police thus, is strategically misdirected, and typically starved into turning the citizenry into its bread basket. That is why the average lower rank will always ask you for cold water or top up. Of course, it turns brutal when the victim reacts. Well until that changes, nothing changes. As Alusine points out; “In reality, the wages and benefits of our police officers is the main reason for corruption within the institution”. Our police are corrupt because they view their mandate as their benefit.

    Punitive action could affect that positively. When this IG authorizes immediate dismissal and prosecution of ANY police officer proven to have used the authority of the force to a private economic advantage, maybe then I’ll hail a new chief. As it stands, the outlook is dismal. Sellu cannot reform the police in 5 months…This is not to insinuate he lacks the intelligence, what is lacking is the will to unfetter the police…because they act challenged the foundation of local corruption itself.

    My brother-in-law said that usually on a mission Sierra Leonean police officers excel because “they know that when they mess up, they’ll be dismissed and sent home in disgrace”.

    As a patriot I must wish him well…with bated breath

  9. In October 1894 a Royal gazette Act established the Sierra Leone police force . Following Independence on the 27th April 1961 , and three years later , parliament passed the 1964 police Act ,which sets out to consolidate and amend the rules governing the organisational structure ,discipline and the powers and duties of the Sierra Leone police force. And the motto for the Sierra leone police is “A force for good “. Have the Sierra leone police live up to its motto ?Thats the million dollar question still left hanging out there .The jury is still out on that one .Given what has happened in the last few days , one has to be completely cynical to think the Sierra Leone police force is rotten to the core. And the organisation and it’s values as a public body is so damaged by raft of scandals after scandals is by the face of it beyond redemption. “Things fall apart the centre cannot hold.”The reality of course is not all the rank and file of men and women giving their service to the nation that are contributing to the holly mess , but their leadership that they look up to, have for all intense and purpose lost the plot.

    This respected institution have fallen far sort from what is expected of it . Thanks to the headless chicken leadership at the helm.The new Inspector General of Police Mr William Fayoa Sellu, I wish him all the best. He have his work cut out for him. What we’ve witnessed over the last few years , is a complete deletion of duty by the scaked Inspector General of police , Dr Ambrose Soulva .The lack of trust corruption human rights violations and perversion of justice have all contributed to remove the Sierra Leone police from the people they are meant to serve .The cordial relationship which is the established norm between the public and our law enforcement agencies, that are meant to look after our backs both in peace and war time is none existence. Policing by consent has been eroded to the extent it has lost its meaning in the national psyche.It will take an almighty seismic shifts of attitudes for both the public and the Sierra leone police force to restore that faith we are all longing for . In other for us to get there , we need a national guidelines for all police activity in the country.

    We should be able to pursue cases against the police for negligence whilst on duty. Accountability should be the guiding principles for the way we are policed .During the recruitment stage , screening for implicit bias and political affiliation should be a most .And there should be a parliamentary committee that oversee the workings of the Inspector General of police. And above all else a police ombudsman or equivalent to monitor his work , so the leadership of the Sierra leone police are more accountable because just like our elected leaders they are the servants of the people .And there should be an anonymous police hotline for any concern member of the Sierra leone police force to call an independent police body set up by the government to register their concerns and feelings .Otherwise who is going to police the police ?

  10. If the objective of Jaime Barry is to alert the new IG as to the enormity, sensitivity and complexity of his job, he succeeded. Political appointments in Sierra Leone are precarious and thankless, and appointers are forever ready to get rid of appointees when it is the expedient thing to do at any particular moment.

    IG William Sellu may be coming in with the professional determination to do his job, but will the filthy political system give him the room needed to operate accordingly ? This is the question that’s worth pondering. Remember Earnest Koroma’s first ACC boss – Tejan Cole ? Was he not being impeded at every turn by Earnest himself which led to his resignation? In all honesty, has Ben Keifala ever been allowed to do his job professionally? Never, or else the former chief minister, David Francis, would be sitting in jail. Where is our Auditor-General, Lara Taylor-Pearce currently ? Suspended for her utter display of professionalism. Her last audit report is still firmly under wraps because Bio and his entourage are allegedly cast in a thieving and poor light in it.

    I suspect that the new IG will embark on a handful of publicity gymnastics in the next few weeks after which he will become a shadow of himself once he makes eye contact with Bio. If he wants to keep his job, let him take all cues from his boss in the same way as his immediate predecessor (Sovula) did, but with a mastery of subtlety.

    • Hi Mr. Sorie, firstly, permit me to seek a clarification on your name “ Santhkie”, was there a typographical error, are you Santikie Sorie? While I do not doubt your fine journalistic credentials, I respectfully beg to defer on your premise why you think politically appointed IG s are sacked. Retrospectively, we have had good and not so good IGs. With all due respect to the out going Police boss, it’s my understanding that he was not up to the task. I commend him for giving way to others who can do the job more efficiently. Party colours or tribes have nothing to do with this, in my estimation.

  11. One problem this new Sierra Leone IG has to contend with is how to respond whenever his boss – President Bio – does not comply with our laws, rules, and regulations. His remit merits re-appraisal. Such non-compliance issues need to be addressed urgently. How? Parliament lacks the competence with essential of ethics essential for managing obvious necessary changes! Seton During http://www.directcostscutters.com Author of “Combating Wastefulness &COVID-19 Etc.” obtainable online via AMAZON from 12th February 2022.

  12. Well said Brother Barry.
    Among others, in my estimation, I strongly believe that the newly appointed IG should prioritize the Traffic Unit as the top work program to tackle as quickly as possible. Suffice it to say the the Traffic Unit of the country’s Police Force is ridiculously and dangerously corrupt to the highest degree. They’re untrained or are failing to implement the training (if any) was provided to them. In all of my international travels, I’ve come to the conclusion that Sierra Leone has one of the worst (if not the worst) Traffic Police Unit in the world. Looks like they specialize in bribery and corruption. There’s a whole lot more to write about if you as the new leader would have the courage to listen yo what the public you serve got to say openly and fearlessly. Welcome on-board.

  13. I personally believe that Sierra Leone Police Forces have been under funded for decades. In reality, the wages and benefits of our police officers is the main reason for corruption within the institution. The capacity is so low that even patrol vehicles, communication and investigative equipments are serious challenges. Majority of our police officers are good and patriotic citizens, based on the fact that they perform their duties under difficult circumstances. Even housing facilities (barracks) are inadequate and also unmaintained.
    The irony is, whenever they perform under the funding of the United Nations as peace keeping forces they always excelled.
    Unless they are properly funded as recommended by the European Union, and also remove politics from this institution, our new Inspector General will continue to face increase lawlessness in our nation.

  14. Solomon Kamanda, it appears you are missing the central message Mr. Barry is trying to communicate here sir. Like parents in a typical home, whose behaviors is sure to have an influence on their kids, national leaders in a nation set the pace of law abiding and what it means to be a patriotic citizen. The leader, in this case, the police boss, has a mandate to enforce the laws of the land, this includes the supreme law of the land—our nation’s constitution.

    For ordinary citizens to abide by the law, the leaders at the top must be seen abiding by those same laws. As a democratic nation, our constitution has spelled out processes, procedures, and other mechanism law enforcers should follow if a citizen is found to be floating the rules. The police boss must ensure those processes and procedures are apply impartially, devoid of political inclination or personal sentiments that are contrary to what the constitution dictates.

    So Mr. Barry’s message is simple, lead by example Mr. New IG, the rest will fall into place. Remember Mr. Kamanda, the title of the piece says, ‘ open letter to new IG…’, not ‘open letter to the citizens of Sierra Leone’. So the notion that Mr. Barry should have advice the citizens to obey the law, is ostentatiously out of context sir. Simply put, Mr. Barry is offering a patriotic advice to our newly appointed IG, not to the citizens of the nation. Don’t get it confuse Mr. Kamanda.

    • Indeed Mr. Kamanda ist quite right and to me it is confusing that the Citizens of Sierra Leone are somehow instructing on how the IG of Police should perform his Duties.
      We have had a series of Moments in Sierra Leone where the Citizenry had been lawless towards the Police. We have also seen that it was not the appropiate Method.
      It is a manifestation of lawlessness when a Citizen sends an Open Letter to the new IG.
      To me it is an Intimidation and no “patriotic Advice”. We are not qualified to dictate to the Police, we should abide by the Rules. We should obey and report.
      Please let us give the new IG a Chance so that he can perform, he is the appointed individual currently.

  15. Thank you so much for the feedback on the appointment of Sierra Leone new IG.

    Following your feedback closely, you throw emphasis a lot about past and present police conduct without telling the citizens, passerby and all other residence about the abiding and respect for the rule of law.

    Sierra Leone has been a peaceful nation since her inception as a nation.

    There is always a golden saying that states ” Advices are to both ways”.

    At this junction, I will appreciate you commenting on the abiding and respect for the rule of law.

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