Death of former assistant head of Sierra Leone police – Chris Charley – government accused of negligence

Amin Kef Sesay: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 February 2022:

Florence Charley – wife of the late Assistant Inspector General of Sierra Leone’s police Joseph Pizarro Christian Charley (popularly known as AIG Chris Charley), is suing the Minister of Health and Sanitation, the Medical Superintendent (Officer In Charge) of 34 Military Hospital, and the Attorney General & Minister of Justice at the High Court of Sierra Leone for alleged medical negligence causing the death of the late Joseph Pizarro Christian Charley.

According to court papers, Joseph Pizarro Christian Charley was taken to the 34 Government Hospital on  10th June 2020, after complaining of weakness, loss of taste, smell, coughing and shortness of breath. He was taken to 34-Military Hospital because it was a designated COVID-19 hospital.

Mrs Charley’s legal team are arguing that the deceased did not receive proper care in the hands of the medical personnel at the 34-Military Hospital, due to the lack of necessary medical equipment/facilities and inefficient or poor monitoring of the deceased’s oxygen saturation level which caused his brain to be starved of oxygen.

Also, that the deceased was negligently attended to by the medical personnel at the 34 Government Military Hospital which precipitated his death less than 48 hours of admission at the  hospital. The deceased was admitted in the isolation unit of the hospital where he was placed on oxygen. His oxygen saturation was eighty-four percent but declined to seventy-seven percent.

The court papers also state that the broad-spectrum antibiotics of Azithromycin and Ceftriaxone were administered to the deceased shortly after he was admitted.

Mrs Charley’s legal team alleges that the isolation ward had oxygen concentrators, but no oxygen cylinder. The concentrators, they said did not deliver adequate oxygen; and that the deceased’s relative, Dr. Foday Morovia obtained another oxygen cylinder from Choithram’s hospital which increased the deceased’s oxygen from 77 to 84% but still below 90%. (Photo: AIG Charley).

Lawyers also claim that Dr. Morovia enquired several times whether the doctors or the nurses had High Flow Oxygen or a Bipap Machine but their response was in the negative.

Dr. Monrovia, based on what the lawyers said, left the hospital but received a call from the deceased at 5am on 11th June 2020, complaining that the oxygen cylinder that he had brought from Choithram’s hospital was empty as there was no air coming out of the cylinder.

Dr Morovia said he called the duty doctor to make arrangement for another oxygen canister since the oxygen concentrator was not delivering enough oxygen into the deceased. The deceased was for several hours placed on the oxygen concentrator until the oxygen cylinder arrived. But when  Dr. Morovia came back to the hospital – between 6 and 7am, he saw the deceased in worse respiratory distress.

Dr. Morovia then left to inquire about the result of the COVID test of the deceased which was taken the previous day. By the time Dr. Morovia came back, it was stated, the deceased had stopped breathing and lost consciousness. He was visibly gasping for air. Dr. Morovia and other doctors present, performed CPR to resuscitate the deceased, but without success.

Mrs Charley’s legal team are accusing the Defendants of failing in their duty of care towards the deceased through negligence and/or omissions of the medical personnel on duty at the time the deceased was admitted until his demise at the 34 Military Hospital.

They also claim that the estate of the deceased has in consequence suffered loss as a result of the negligent conduct of the Defendants, for which they are seeking redress in the courts.


  1. May the soul of Mr Joseph C Charley the former AIG of the Sierra Leone police force rest in peace. Like every government institution or public service sector bodies, especially when it comes to health care issues, this public bodies have suffered years of chronic under investment and neglect . This case highlights how citizens of Sierra Leone, feel let down by this government for the lack of investment in our public services sector . If this test case is successful it will open up the flood gates of suing the government of Sierra-leone for all sort of calamities that hits families up and down the country.

    I wish the family every success in their court action against the government health ministry, or 34 military hospital .Already they have made history. No more buiness as usual. Because at the end of the day, if this is the only route left to us to ensure our elected representative accountable to us so be it. Soon flooding victims, roads accidents victims like the fuel tanker deaths at Waterloo, may their souls rest in peace, fire victims at Susan Bay , families of police brutally, like the socalled Pademba Road prison riots, deaths in our under funded hospitals, all of this cases have one thing in common, is as a direct result of government inaction, or lack of investment, transparency and accountabilit in our public services sector bodies . So the government of Sierra-leone is guilty of negligence. There is no way to sugar coat it, those are the facts in any court of law . All we need now is an independent judiciary that can hear the evidence and rule on the facts deviod of emotions, and political interference.

  2. ” Anyone who stops learning is old, anyone who keeps learning stays young”. It is a brilliant and concise food for thought that Mr. Sennett Brown touched on. Let God’s will be done.

    Former American President, a proud African child once said these words “Africa don’t need strong leaders, but strong institutions “. Doesn’t only limit it to Heads of States? No! For us who can think intuitively about his words. I do believe that his words were meant for all leaders in their respective functions to help make strong the institutions they head.

  3. His death was a very unfortunate as do many other deaths in Sierra Leone!

    This is the reason why some of us are advocating that like many other countries in the sub-region, we should introduce and implement a Medical Insurance System, where by citizens pay for their medical cost when they are well and not when they are ill. It is no gainsaying that without money the health care delivery system will always be flawed with several inadequacies.

    I would love to see how this law suit will play out. The 34 Military Hospital is not for non-serving personnel. Whatever treatment is given out to non-military officers is out of good gesture. In the case of the late Mr. Chris Charley and his wife Mrs. Chris Charley, they were both senior police officers. The Police have a Hospital in Freetown of their own with graduates Medical Doctors. At one point one of the Charleys was the officer in charge of Support Unit, and the Police hospital falls under this unit. Unfortunately, as we do in Sierra Leone, we care less because we do not see ourselves to fall victims to the same system we fail to upgrade, or improve.

    During the tenure of the British Inspector General of Police, the Police Hospital was upgraded to some level. Some senior officers were investigated and sacked for eating the Police Medical welfare fund which is a sort of Insurance contribution paid by each police officer every month to take care of theirs and immediate family medical need when they are sick. The monies were misappropriated before Keith Biddle appointment as IGP and they culprits were some senior officers including some of those who headed the Support Unit. The amount for which Keith Biddle lunched the investigations went into Billions of Leones or Thousands of US Dollars. Surprisingly after the investigation, the CDIID sent the file to the DPP’s office for advice since it was a criminal matter. The advice did not come until Keith Biddle left Sierra Leone, and eventually the case became “sine die”. Many of the officers who were investigated continued in the force and some even became IGP. In other words, the case remains “buff”. The Police Hospital has deteriorated to the same status as it was before Keith Biddle came despite the fact it has three qualified Medical Doctors.

    The 34 Hospital can only provide medical treatment with what they have especially since the non-military patience going to the hospital go there for free medical treatment.
    Whist I feel bad that we lost Mr. Charley; yours truly lost a daughter and a brother in the same circumstance at the Choitram and the Connaught hospital respectively in 2011 and 2020. I am therefore keen to see how this law suit will end.

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