President Bio appoints new Internal Affairs Minister

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 08 May 2020:

After weeks of uncertainty as to who is really in charge of the country’s internal security and control of the police force, amid growing social and political unrest across the country, president Bio has sacked his internal affairs minister – Mr Edward Soloku, ahead of a meeting with the international community at State House today.

Yesterday, a statement from State House simply says – “The general public is hereby informed that it has pleased His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio to announce the following appointment, subject to the approval of parliament: Mr Maurice Panda – Noah – Minister of Internal Affairs.”

The statement did not give any reason for the sacking.

But according to government sources speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, there has been major differences of views between minister Soloku and his deputy minister – Lahai Lawrence Leema (Photo),  regarding policing strategies and the usurping of the minister’s role and authority by Leema.

Several SLPP supporters had called for the sacking of minister Soloku and for Leema to take over the running of the ministry.

Lahai Lawrence Leema is president Bio’s top confidante on matters of State security. He is highly popular among the young SLPP supporters of president Bio.

Though hated by many – both inside and outside the SLPP party, especially supporters of the main opposition APC, Leema is effectively – at least for now – officially in charge of the ministry of internal affairs, until parliament resumes sitting, after MPs were sent home by the Clerk last week.

Sceptics of the government, say that the decision to close parliament was well timed, so as to enable Leema to officially take over the running of State security after the sacking of minister Suloku.

Similarly, sceptics are saying that the suspension of the courts by the chief justice last month, was done so as to prevent the courts from hearing all matters that are pending, with regards to the arrest and detention of opposition politicians.

But not much is known about the newly appointed minister of internal affairs – Maurice Panda-Noah, except that he is currently the chairman of the Road Safety Authority, where many believe his performance has been lack lustre.

He is said to be a mild-mannered loyal foot-soldier of president Bio, since his early days living and working in the UK, from where he helped championed Maada Bio’s Paopa movement and his 2018 election campaign victory.

A former colleague told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that Maurice Panda – Noah (Photo) has an IT background, and is suspected to be one of the brains behind the SLPP election team, which engineered access to the electoral commission’s election database in 2018 that gave victory to the SLPP.

His appointment as minister of internal affairs comes as president Bio meets with representatives of the intermational community in Sierra Leone today, to discuss the breakdown of law and order in the country and the growing social and political unrests that are paralysing much of the country into fear.

According to a statement issued yesterday by the ministry of foreign affairs, president Bio will be meeting with the diplomatic corps, the UN, EU, IMF, and the World Bank “to furnish the diplomatic community on the securtity situation in the country.”

Sierra Leone needs to quickly dig itself out of the dangerous and destructive cycle of violence, worsening political tension, and rampant abuse of civil liberty and human rights that have engulfed the country.

It is hoped that the international community and president Bio will today work out a road map and clear strategy that will lead to a peaceful resolution of the current political impasse, especially after the recent killing of at least a dozen of prisoners in cold blood at Pademba Road prison by the president’s security forces.

President Bio cannot afford his image to be tarnished once again by allegations of extra-judicial killing as it was in 1992, when 29 people where executed by his soldiers.

He must set up an independent public inquiry to investigate  the killing of those prisoners and the causes of the prison disturbance.

8 Comments

  1. In my personal opinion, I believe that President Bio has made the right move by readjusting his team due to this lawlessness and I’m even happier that this new minister Mr. Panda Noah has no military background but an IT background which he can use to counter any cybercrime against our nation. Lahai Lawrence Leema who belonged to the young generation should now prepare the stage for his new boss by collaborating with the Youth Minister Mr. Mohamed Orman Bangura to pacify most of the youths around the country who can once again be used as child soldiers or human shields by Generation X by simply brainwashing and destroying them with alcohol and drugs just to archive their political aims.

    The international community knows President Bio and his name was not even mentioned during the prolonged trials conducted by the ICC in Freetown, they even know that he owns a master degree in peace studies and even surrounded himself with peace Professors which shows that he is only interested in the peace and development of our nation.

  2. A nation without an identity,that’s what Sierra Leone has always been and continues to be.There’s nothing admirable,or of great substance that you can identify,or proudly boast that our tiny nation possess – absolutely nothing.Since Independence everyone has been promoting tribalism,thefts, greed and unbridled corruption.Welcome to Sierra Leone where the winner takes all,including the scrapings on the bottom of the economic barrel.All those acres of diamonds once found with great ease have vanished,no longer to be seen again.

    And instead of looking for innovative ways to make living sustainable,they are slaughtering unarmed citizens in cold blood. Well,some of us are sick and tired of the continuous headaches,and anyone highlighted under our lenses as guilty of crimes against humanity will be dragged to answer, and give account in an international Court of law. We will hunt them down,enmesh and entangled them with private lawsuits, they will never be able to get freely out off…Words to the wise; save yourself while there is still time.

  3. I take it that the two prison officers that were knived to death during the prison break last week were also killed by the presidential guards? This is what I gleaned from this article.

  4. It is a prerequisite that governments incorporate civil society as a full partner in the democratization of security sector governance. The appointed minister must be an expert in security, who is competent to discuss the roles civil society can play in the democratization of security. Despite the improved capacity of civil society to influence governments, there are significant challenges to the development of an integrated effective civil, military, and police relationship.

    A safe and secure environment for people, communities, and provinces is essential to condition for sustainable economic, political, and social development and conflict mitigation. Without democratic checks and balances, we can expose security forces charged with the mission to protect citizens from bad administration, ineffective, and use for partisan political purposes. Inadequate security sector governance can lead to the weakening of the country’s monopoly over the legitimate use of force.

  5. Indeed. 29 killed in 1992, plus 11 at Pademba Road Prisons in 2020, making the most public and blatant figures yet to 40. The official tyrant number and of course very SAD. Such killings under the watch of any leader or Head of State is catastrophic and a total disaster, in terms of how the people in your country and the International community consider your character. If you add the violence, barbarity and the bye-Election disturbances that have taken place under the watch of President Bio and the Bio SLPP to that count, then, the total number will be even higher.

    This must be worrisome and alarming for any Head of a civilized and democratic country. President Bio and the Bio SLPP have realised the gravity of the situation and now desperate to talk. The good thing about the ICC is, that they don’t forget and don’t forgive. They are there to make sure that tyranny is completely kicked out of civilised societies. Anyway, the fact that President Bio is going to sit down with the International community to sort out things is a good thing. Finally, Dr Sylvia Blyden and Mrs. Conteh must be released unconditionally forthwith. God bless Dr Sylvia Blyden, Mrs Conteh and the international community.

  6. Minister Soluku was all along a mere stooge in regards to the ministry of internal affairs. He was never in charge or allow to perform is duties. His deputy, Lahai Lawrence Leema, the apple of the president (D pa e eyes), was in charge calling the shots all this while. So it’s no surprise Mr. Soluku has been finally push out without any valid reason. Personally, I take it as a good thing for Soluku, he should never be held responsible for many of the atrocities being committed by this regime.

    Now the real maniac are in charge. The citizens of mama Salone and the International community will continue to keep stock of their records. There is an on going project, by a group of IT patriotic Sierra Leoneans, establishing a database serving as a repository for audios, videos and other medias inciting and perpetrating violence in our nation, circulating in cyberspace, for future prosecutorial purposes. Extremists individuals, be warn!!

  7. I strongly believe the cabinet needs another massive reshuffle to replace unproductive and unfit Ministers and Deputies. One major Ministry that needs some restructuring is that is the Ministry of Information and Health. Those are “Sleeping Giants” that lack leadership potentials to tactfully cope with the growing trends in our society. Lack of solid leadership leads to deplorable deliverables. The earlier those heads are replaced, the better for the team to achieve.

  8. This article, despite being informative, has some glaring inaccuracies. First, it has not yet been officially established how the prisoners at Pademba Road died. Suggesting that they were killed by president Bio’s guards is a rush to judgement. We must wait until a thorough investigation is done before drawing any conclusions. Second, suggesting that the incoming internal affairs minister “engineered access to the electoral commission’s election database in 2018 that gave victory to the SLPP,” in the absence of any official declaration to that effect by Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission or the country’s judiciary, amounts to gossip.

    Third, the 29 people executed in 1992 by the NPRC were not executed by Maada Bio’s soldiers. Bio was the NPRC secretary of information at that time. Captain Valentine Strasser was the chairman of the NPRC and was therefore Bio’s boss and head of state. It was the APC, for political reasons, that assigned culpability of those executions to Bio. But the buck at that time stopped with Strasser and not with Bio.

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