Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 December 2016
Communities around Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone are tonight gripped by fear and shock after the brutal murder last night of another well know public figure – the highly acclaimed Barrister Imran Rahman. (Photo: President Ernest Bai Koroma).
The former Magistrate and Barrister is reported by police to have been strangled at his home by unknown armed men who broke into the house in Marjay Town in the west of Freetown.
His death comes just two days after the retired head of the country’s military – Lieutenant General S.O. Williams, was shot dead by armed men at his home in the east of the capital. Police are still investigating his killing.
Lawyer Rahman was aged 78 and comes from the very popular Rahman family in the Foulah Town community of eastern Freetown.
His murder has once again raised serious questions about the ability of the Koroma government in running the country, as well as the capacity of the police in maintaining law and order in the capital Freetown. How safe is Freetown tonight?
If top military men and senior lawyers are not safe in Sierra Leone, then what chance do ordinary men and women have in their own homes? (Photo: Barrister Imran Rahman).
Since coming to power in 2007, president Koroma has failed to stem the rising levels of serious crime in Sierra Leone, including armed robbery, hijacking, and brutal murders.
In his end of year speech delivered to the people of Sierra Leone in 2015, president Koroma mentioned the alarming rise in lawlessness, and promised to do whatever it takes to bring law and order to the country.
But it seems the president has woefully failed the people of Sierra Leone and the international community, that has invested millions of dollars in promoting law and order as well as building the capacity of the judiciary and criminal justice system.
Sierra Leone is ranked in the Global Human Development Index as one of the poorest nations in the world, and by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt countries in Africa.
Soon the country will be ranked as one of the most dangerous nations in the world, and the murder capital of Africa, if the current senseless killing continues.
Few overseas investors are brave enough to invest their capital in Sierra Leone today, with the exception of the chinese – whose imported security experts are looking after the chinese community, despite recent improvement in the country’s business environment.
Two weeks ago, the residence of the popular opposition politician and one of the aspiring presidential candidates for the SLPP – Alie Kabba, was attacked by heavily armed men in military uniform in the capital Freetown. No one has been arrested for that attack.
The current spate of high profile murders will only serve to drive away investors from Sierra Leone to other West African countries where their capital will be safer.
As the Koroma government continues to lose control of the streets of the capital to armed gangs, one has to wonder how long before they start planning armed insurrection against the government itself?
No government should sit idly by and watch the lives of its citizens routinely snuffed away by criminals, in such despicable, cold blooded and brutal manner.
Whilst the ruling APC party may be enjoying enormous political capital from large sections of the unemployed youths, the president must remember that turning a blind eye to criminality simply to curry votes at elections is morally wrong, if not damn right unconstitutional.
Those of us that have campaigned against the reintroduction of the death penalty for those found guilty beyond all reasonable doubt by a court of law, are now calling for the government to bring back the death penalty.
If this is what has to be done and quickly, in order to restore confidence on the streets and in the homes of citizens, as well as guarantee public safety, then so be it.
Of course the government should have done more to diversify the economy, so that jobs can be created for the millions of young people that are out of work in the country.
But it seems there is a growing number of hard core criminals that would continue to kill their fellow citizens for their property, regardless of their employment status.
Two months ago the minister of the interior – Palo Conteh, a man many would not trust with the key to the gallows, announced that he has completed the refurbishment of the gallows.
Well if he had thought then that his public show of the newly refurbished gallows, would serve as a deterrent to murderers, then he too must be in a state of shock tonight after the killing of Barrister Rahman in cold blood.
The blood of the former head of the military and Barrister Rahman is in the hands of Minister Palo Conteh (Photo).
Both he and the chief of police – Francis Munu, must go out there and bring those responsible for all the recent murders in the capital to justice.
According to police report, a few suspects were earlier today arrested at Funkia Junction in the west of the capital.
The suspects were driving the stolen vehicle of Barrister Rahman.
Such is the brazenness of the criminals in Freetown today. Are they hired by highly connected individuals in the country to go out and steal from the rich and to assassinate?
What is tonight puzzling analysts is the question as to why is it that, whenever the All People’s Congress Party (APC) is in power, Sierra Leone is at risk of becoming a failed state – characterised by lawlessness, armed robbery, violence, breakdown of law and order in society, and the flagrant abuse of power with impunity by those in authority?
As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission found in its enquiry, the seeds of the brutal ten year civil war in Sierra Leone were sown in the 1970s and 1980s by the ruling APC. And it seems very little has changed today.
Poverty, mass unemployment, thuggery, armed robbery, highway robbery, street violence, mental disorder, drugs and alcohol abuse, are changing the psyche of young people into highly dangerous, professional and hardened criminals.
Soon they will be large enough in numbers and brave enough too, to turn their weapons against the government as rebels. No one should want this for Sierra Leone. But it seems the choice once again, remains with the Koroma government.
As 2016 comes to a close, we must ask: Where is Sierra Leone heading?
May the soul of Barrister Rahman rest in perfect peace.