Declaration of curfew in Sierra Leone after last week’s alleged coup is unconstitutional

Kenneth Vandi: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 December 2023:

Sierra Leoneans at this time will frown at any fundamental breach of the 1991 Constitution of the country, especially with regards to the Fundamental Human Rights of citizens that the Constitution is there to protect.

At about 8:00 pm yesterday, 2nd of December 2023, the Head of State mentioned in his address to the nation that his government will adhere to the rule of law. Citizens and people living in Sierra Leone are tired of rhetoric and are expecting the President to take the lead in respecting the rule of law in accordance with the 1991 Constitution.

Most listeners of the Head of State’s address last night were expecting a statement as per law provides, for the lifting of the State of Public Emergency (Curfew Order).

The law states in Section 29 subsection (3) paragraph (a) of the 1991 Constitution: “Every declaration made under subsection (1) shall lapse (a) in the case of a declaration made when Parliament is sitting at the expiration of a period of seven days beginning with the date of publication of the declaration.”

The only inclination that Sierra Leoneans had of a public declaration of curfew was the fourth paragraph of the tweet of the Head of State that was last edited and published at about 8:34 am on the 26th day of November 2023, and it reads, “As the combined team of our Security Forces continue to root out the remnant of the fleeing renegades, a nationwide curfew has been declared and citizens are encouraged to stay indoors.”

Assuming however, that was the declaration, the law further provides that such a declaration must be published in the National Gazette.

What really obtained in this incident of November 26, 2023, is yet to be determined. If we are to go by the President’s Sunday tweet, and counting from Sunday, the curfew must have been over by yesterday – Saturday, when the nation was addressed by the Head of State.

This omission or disregard for the constitution, further explains the disappointment of many Sierra Leoneans. This must be addressed if we are to be taken seriously as respecters of the Rule of Law.

The Minister of Information has been posting about the Curfew Order since Sunday, 26th of November when the alleged security breach occurred.

In point of fact, most Sierra Leoneans got the information about the Curfew Order from the minister’s postings on social media on the day of the alleged security breach.

The same Minister posted on the same social media immediately after the Head of State’s address to the nation on the 2nd day of December, stating that the curfew remains in effect from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am until further notice.

The Minister of Information must be a respecter of the Rule of Law, if the President is to be taken seriously by the people of Sierra Leone and the international community.

The provision for a declaration of a state of public emergency is one that the President cannot delegate to a Minister. It’s a very serious and important provision made just for the President at any point in time.

In point of fact, the frequency of the Minister’s postings about the curfew created a lot of confusion in the minds of legal minded and liberal Sierra Leoneans. Let the needful be done; and the Minister must know his limitations as per law provides.

A very senior citizen of Sierra Leone had this to say about yesterday’s address to the nation by the Head of State: “I don’t know what the essence of the address was. Just to tell us that it was a coup?”

In situations such as the alleged attempted coup of Sunday the 26th day of November 2023, it is generally prudent to await the official findings of a thorough investigation, before declaring whether it was an attempted coup or not.

A high-ranking senior military officer was on a television interview that has gone viral, saying that the alleged security breach was not a coup. The senior military officer’s statement has now been controversially contradicted by the president’s address to the nation of yesterday, 2nd December, 2023.

The Head of State’s assertion that the alleged security breach was a failed coup raises questions about the timing and appropriateness of such characterization, especially before the investigation results are made public.

It is customary for official statements to align closely with verified information to avoid potential misinterpretations or premature conclusions. In this case, clarity and accuracy may be better served by waiting for the conclusive findings of the investigation which the Head of State mentioned in his address, before definitively categorizing the incident as a failed coup.

In the public domain, the Head of State’s contradiction of the senior military officer’s statement is now a big concern.

Critically analysing the Head of State’s address, one could argue that prematurely describing the incident as a failed coup before the completion of a thorough investigation may be perceived as prejudicial. By so doing, the Head of State may influence public opinion and create a narrative that could potentially shape perceptions prior to the release of the findings of the investigation.

The pre-emptive characterization might introduce bias into the public discourse and impact the way the incident is interpreted.

It would have been essential for the Head of State to have emphasized the importance of allowing the investigation process to unfold independently and objectively, so as to ensure that conclusions are based on concrete evidence rather than premature assumptions or clarification.

This is the essence of Justice and the Rule of Law.




    1. WELL PLANNED, FUNDED, AND ORCHESTRATED: The coup was well planned, financed, coordinated, and evidence now suggests that some active members of the military and police were in the know, and some played direct roles.

    2. THE COUP PLOTTERS WANTED TO SACRIFICE THE PEOPLE AS SHIELD AND PEOPLE REFUSED TO TAKE PART: The ordinary people did not come out to be used as shield by the coup plotters as was anticipated and demanded by the plotters using rebel-styled deceptive soundbite— “wuna commot na doe and jubilate, wuna nor go buy rice for 1 million”.

    3. TELEVISION BROADCAST WAS THE TURNING POINT: Failure to capture the SLBC television station to make announcement—the most anticipated moment for the plotters, was the turning point and marked the beginning of the failure of the coup.

    4. COUP PLOTTERS WERE PREPARED FOR COMBAT AND READY TO KILL: The coup plotters were prepared for and expected corner-to-corner, face-to-face street combat, gorilla-styled commandeering of vehicles, and that is what appears to have happened in Wilberforce, Cockerill Barracks, Congo Cross, and SLBC.

    5. PASSENGER MANIFEST AT CONAKRY AIRPORT IS INTELIGENCE: Passenger manifests at the airport in Conakry, Guinea is an important source of intelligence for the investigation.

    6. THE INVOLVEMENT OF CLOSE GUARDS OF FORMER PRESIDENT KOROMA AND ALLIES OF OPPOSITION APC CANNOT BE COINCIDENT: How close allies of former President Koroma and the opposition APC, many of whom were known to live outside the country, and personal bodyguards who are supposed to be in Makeni came to be caught in the middle of the coup plot in Freetown and some in hiding places raise serious questions.

    7. SHARED PERCEPTION AND NARRATIVES OF OPPOSITION APC OPERATIVES BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER THE COUP ATTEMPT GAVE AWAY THE PAN: The narratives of opposition operatives on social media days leading to the coup, during the hours of the coup, and immediately following the failed coup, when closely analyzed give away the plan—the RIP to first lady 24 hours before the coup, the innuendoes, the calm on social media before the storm, the parties in Guinea on the eve of the coup, the massive physical presence of opposition operatives in Conakry, etc.

    8. MORALE DAMAGE BETRAYAL OF TRUST IN THE MILITARY: A good number of military personnel who experienced shoot-out with their comrades were not only left feeling betrayed, but led to serious damage to morale, trust, and comradery in the ranks and file of the army.

    9. THE CONTRADICTING AND SHIFTING NARRATIVES OF THE OPPOSITION: The post-coup narratives by opposition APC operatives, which have dramatically shifted from innuendoes anticipating death of first lady, end to president Bio’s regime, to that of a coup planned and orchestrated by Bio to overthrow Bio, and part of the master plan not to account for prisoners, denial that those killed in action such as Leather Boot were in face false, initial claims that those named to have been involved, including Koita were not even in the country, etc., gives away the open secret that the coup was opposition APC plan.

    10. THE COUP WOULD HAVE BEEN THE BIGGINING OF A TRIBALLY MOTIVATED WAR: Because of the ethnically biased constitution of members of the attempted coup, the tribally motivated rhetoric that marked its execution, the apparent tribal vengeance that may have followed. And if that would have happened, just be rest assured that the boys from Daru were not going to back down and allow tribalists like Leather Boot, Sorieba, Koita, Yeatay Yeatay, and the tribalistic bigots that supported them to rule by ethnic cleansing.

  2. For long Sierra Leoneans have been taken for granted. Fundamental human rights doesn’t exist at all. The so called rule of law is only applicable or exercised in certain areas or sections of our community.
    For donkey years now carnivals, parades etc. are celebrated in so many countries or cities annually. Here in Freetown our annual Lantern Parade was cancelled for apparently no good reason.
    We are still struggling with basic needs eg, water and electricity. Countries like Ivory Coat, Rwanda or even our nearest neighbour Guinea are well ahead.
    It’s about time we get things right.
    No time for gimmick anymore.

  3. Wow, thank so much for your effort, but it’s really embarrassing to say we don’t like our nation, as the mind Sierra Leoneans are at the moment here at home is like a drowning man who wants a saviour and can accept anything as a rescue tool, please let’s help the situation instead of making it worse and mind you we have only one place we can call home that is here. Let’s protect it now..

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