Former president Koroma’s security withdrawn

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 May 2019:

A new political row has broken between the SLPP government and the main opposition APC, after the government withdrew security personnel attached to former President Ernest Bai Koroma, without consultation – it is understood.

Writing yesterday in a public statement, president Koroma accused the police of the “abrupt transfer and replacement” of his security by the Sierra Leone Police without “consultation”.

This is what the former president’s statement  said:

“Government Withdraws State Security Attached to former President Ernest Bai Koroma

Freetown – 11th May, 2019.

“The Office of Former President Ernest Bai Koroma hereby informs the general public and the international community that effective today, 1300 hours local time, all state security attached to former President Ernest Bai Koroma have been withdrawn.

“This comes after a follow up meeting this afternoon 11th May, 2019, between the former President and the Brigade Commander North – Brigadier David Alpha – and the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) North – AIG Ambrose Michael Suvula.

“Both the Brigade Commander and the AIG informed the former President that while the state would not impose on him any security personnel that he did not approve of, their instructions were to withdraw the security detail currently attached to him contrary to Part III – Miscellaneous Retiring Benefits (13 -22) of The Pensions and Retiring Benefits of Presidents and Vice – Presidents Act No 2 of 1986.

“The general public would recall that an official Memo was issued on Thursday, 9th May, 2019, by the Sierra Leone Police directing the withdrawal of the police security personnel attached to the former President as well as the deployment of a set of new personnel.

“However, the former President had no prior information about such changes and only happened to stumble upon such critical changes to his personnel security detail after the said memo was disseminated on social media.

“As a result of this, the former President objected to the abrupt changes owing to the fact that he was neither notified nor consulted prior to the changes. He then urged the Inspector General of Police to revert to the status quo.

“Unfortunately, the state has insisted on the decision to withdraw the personnel and in effect, the former President is now left without any state security”. END OF STATEMENT

What political observers find troubling is the way highly sensitive matters of national importance and ramifications are being exploited for political reasons by all sides.

How communication between the government and the former president could have broken down to such appalling level, beats anyone’s imagination, and needs sorting out fast.

There ae rumours the former president is now seeking security personnel from ECOWAS and in particular, from neighbouring Guinea.

If true, this could lead to a major escalation of the current political conflict between the ruling SLPP and the main opposition APC.

A very dangerous precedent has been set by the SLPP government, and this does not bode well for Sierra Leone’s fragile peace. Common sense must prevail.

See the press statement here:

1 Press Release – Government withdraws state security attached to former president Koroma

1 Comment

  1. Here is an eye-catching Headline: “Sierra Leone’s former president expresses concern over his safety”.Quote: “Sierra Leone’s former president, Ernest Bai Koroma has rejected the “abrupt transfer and replacement” of his state security details” unquote, by Umaru Fofana, a Sierra Leonean born BBC News World Service stringer, based in Freetown, Sierra Leone of all places, a rare feat, to be based in your own country. The guy can pull strings (get it, strings?).

    Here we go again, another quote,” Former president Koroma’s security withdrawn”, shouted Abdul Rashid Thomas on top of his lungs, literally destroying his vocal cords (have you been smoking something?) and in the process, eclipsing and upsetting his own newspaper’s normal decorum.

    To be sure, if constitutionality were to prevail in Sierra Leone and concomitantly strive to ensure civility, along with lasting peace, the rule of law must first and foremost be seen to be in vogue without preconditions, irrespective of the beneficiary.

    This means all well-meaning state protocols; signatories to deserving documentations of local, national and international significance must be observed, adhered to and supported.

    The expressed benefits accorded to former presidents and vice presidents are well documented in the 1985 constitution under president Joseph Saidu Momoh and are not be abrogated, except by the cabinet (government) with consultation of parliament.
    Matter of fact, the finance Minister at any given time is mandated to ensure compliance to such constitutionally mandated protocols, regardless of who the retirees are or whom it benefits.

    There are myriads of benefits that go along with the retirement of former presidents, who have “served no less than twelve months as president”. But for the purposes of the topic at hand, emphasis is placed upon the issue of security.

    Here is an appetizer, a retired President shall be provided, at the expense of the State, a life-long household staff comprising of two cooks, two stewards, two cleaners, two gardeners, two laundrymen and one domestic supervisor.
    In addition, one confidential secretary, one private secretary, two office messengers, and all salaries of these workers are paid by the state.

    Former presidents, and vice presidents are literally taken care of by the state. Apparently during and after their service. I bet you didn’t know that.

    Security personnel are also the responsibility of the state provided to the former presidents, and even vice presidents, thanking them? for their service to the state regardless of how they performed while in office.

    The constitution expressly states that “reasonable but adequate security shall be provided for the protection of a retired President, his family and his residence at the expense of the State”, comprising the following, three Police Officers not below the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police, thirty personal guards, and four watchmen.

    Reasonable but adequate security shall be provided for the protection of a retired Vice-President as well, his family and his residence at the expense of the State comprising six personal guards.

    The salaries of the security personnel described in subsections (1) and (2) of this section of the constitution shall be as approved by the Cabinet.

    Now the Bio government had indicated that occasional reshuffling of security personnel are the domain of the prevailing government. True. But constitutionally, security must be provided at all time to the president and vice president. At any given time, they must have their security detail. We live a crazy world.

    Reason given for this reshuffle or withdrawal, as I understand it, is that the former president is still an active head of his party.

    Hold on a second, Mr. government, whomsoever the APC wants their leader to be is totally within their prerogative, and it’s none of the government’s business.

    The APC can opt to have whomsoever they want as their leader. And that goes for any other party in Sierra Leone. It’s democracy, remember.

    The government should not dictate who other party’s leader should be. After all, when a party leader is elected or appointed by other parties, most likely than not, other parties may or may not like the chosen leader. But good luck with that. It’s understandable, because of rivalry or competition. But that’s what makes democracy work, does it not.

    On a final note, it looks a though the only thing African countries are copying from developed countries are their presidents life after life in the presidency: taking care of their presidents. They don’t copy democracy, they don’t copy anti corruption measures, and they don’t emulate social, economic, infrastructure, social justice, human rights and other ills that afflict their countries. God help us.

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