Milton Margai: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 June 2020:
In Sierra Leone, armed robbers are becoming braver by the day. Sierra Leoneans are raising concerns over the spate of armed robberies in the country, and calling on the police to be more vigilant.
According to the Regional Commander of Freetown East – AIG Aiah Samadia, they have increased their vigilance, in order to stop or forestall any form of violence and armed robbery. He also said that people have been raising concerns from everywhere.
“We have arrested several suspects. One group of suspects we recently apprehended was at 2am around the Hastings community. They had machetes. Can you imagine? What are you doing with such machetes at that time of the night? We arrested three of them.”
The AIG said that their operations are intelligence-led. He said they also raided premises recently where they discovered plasma TVs, musical sets and many other items.
“We arrested members of cliques with knives. Their tattoos identified which cliques they belong to. We arrested them at the Mount Aureol community,” said AIG Samadia, gleefully.
He said they have been working in partnership with various communities in order to address the issue.
“The people that we have caught,” according to AIG Samadia, “are notorious armed robbers. They terrorise people. They committed crimes and went underground.”
He continued: “We have been on the lookout for them but we have finally apprehended them. We have four files that have been kept on them.”
With regards security measures in place in Hastings and the surrounding areas, he said they have put measures in place, but wouldn’t want to discuss it because it is about their strategies. The five alleged armed robbers are in police custody and will be charged to court.
Well done to the Sierra Leone Police for the recent arrests, however, a lot more needs to be done.
A friend of mine was telling me recently how someone he knows, who lives in Bathurst village, was robbed by armed robbers about two weeks ago. Luckily for the couple, their child wasn’t at home. They were both tied up.
And, listen to this, the armed robbers who were armed with guns and cutlasses, said they were hungry, as they helped themselves to the food in the house. How brazen is that?! The couple’s belongings were then taken away.
As if that wasn’t enough, or not having any cares about being caught, they robbed the couple’s neighbour the next night.
It seems the armed robbers have weighed the capabilities of the police, hence, they can be so brave. Some have accused some members of the police of conniving with the armed robbers.
“How else would these robbers carry on terrorising people during curfew, when the security forces are in control from 9pm to 6am? Either some police officers are conniving with the robbers or not doing a good job at protecting people,” said a concerned Sierra Leonean.
I asked my friend who told me about the Bathurst incident, what he thought the solution is, to the spate of armed robberies.
“The police must be vigilant. They should have a manned telephone helpline 24/7 which the public should have access to whenever needed. An emergency number should be dedicated for reporting robberies. If someone’s house is in the process of being burgled, for example, in Aberdeen or Bathurst, they must be able to dial a number and get in touch with the police stations in those areas.
“They must also have the resources to respond to robberies. Regular patrols will also help deter robbers from carrying out their criminal acts,” he said.
He made a lot of sense. I hope the newly appointed Minister of Internal Affairs, David Panda Noah, will work closely with the police and other security forces to address this menace and bring it under control.
This video shows a recent police arrest of armed robbers taken to the Cline Town Police Station:
The report of increase in army roberry incidents is definitely a worrisome development. Our nation is already dealing with the debilitating effects of Covid-19 pandemic, the least our nation needs now is another suffocating threat from these good for nothing miscreats. As alluded by the writer, our nation is under a 9pm to 6am curfew, the police must improve in their vigilance and supress these looming threats. By all indications, our nation is embroiled with lack of job opportunities and other economic impediments. However, robbery should never be an excuse for our youths. All peace loving Sierra Leoneans must work wholeheartedly with the security forces to deal with this menance in our society.
Right now all over the world the police are in the spotlight. It is about time the Sierra Leone police do the job they are paid to do. Instead of prosecuting people for face book postings. Their job is to keep the peace and maintain security for residents in every corner of the country. You don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night staring at a barrel of a gun with a man’s face covered in balaclava screaming orders at you. This spate of armed robberies should be nipped in the bud. Don’t forget most of the people that are doing these robberies are former combatants. The police should work with local communities to identify the culprits before the violence gets out of hand.
Those child soldiers that fought the war are now in their twenties, or early thirties . These guys know the power of the gun. It is incumbent of the government to work with NGOs to revisit the disarmament process. It looks like not everyone handed their weapons in, otherwise where are the guns coming from? The country is in lock down. During the civil war, we all know about the “SOBELS”. Soldiers by day, Rebels at night. If there are rogue police officers engaged in such heinous crimes, they should be identified and booted out. Armed robbers should not tarnish the uniform of the Sierra Leone police department. As for those people in the communities that handle stolen goods, they should be punished like the burglars. We don’t want such a reputation to be tagged to our country’s name. It will scare away tourists when we need them most.