Lamin Costo Daramy: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 March 2018
A catalogue of allegations have been levelled at the Sierra Leone police in recent times. Most importantly, with general elections taking place this Wednesday, 7th March, the ban on vehicular movement on voting day ordered by the police is further raising eyebrows.
Sierra Leone is not at war, nor is it in a state of emergency. Wednesday, 7th of March, will be just another day for most Sierra Leoneans, going about their lawful business trying to make ends meet.
With no restriction on vehicular movement on elections day, our neighbouring countries like Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria have held free, fair and peaceful elections. Why can’t we? We are just a small nation compared to those countries.
However, our police seem adamant to have a ban on vehicle movement on elections day. This is profoundly disturbing and may further erode public trust and confidence in the police.
During the APC rally held two weeks ago in Freetown, we saw state security personnel who are meant to maintain peace, order, serve, protect and to be neutral, conveniently dancing among the APC crowd of supporters.
At the same APC rally, another state security personnel could be seen in plain clothes carrying a firearm leading the crowd. The police did not bat an eyelid. What sense does this make for law and order?
It is obvious that under the APC administration the police as an institution that is meant to be an independent arm of government, has become seriously politicised. Don’t forget, these are the same personnel who the people of Sierra Leone are counting to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections.
Under the APC administration, we have also seen the unlawful arrest and detention of peaceful and law-abiding citizens by so called ‘orders from above’ – meaning State House. Sadly, tyranny, a one-party state, abuse of power, violation of human rights, flagrant violation of our constitutional rights now seems to be taking centre stage.
After ten years of civil war and lessons learnt for sustained peace building, the police in Sierra Leone must be held to higher standards, and their actions more closely scrutinised.
With strings of unfortunate events, my fear is that trust and confidence in the police have become adversely affected.
The vast majority of the public can only place their confidence and trust in police or otherwise, based on what they see unfolding on the streets and in their communities.
This could potentially have a double-edged sword effect in local communities across the country. The danger now is that the public may not necessarily trust and have confidence in the police to conduct a free, fair and peaceful elections, because of the restriction on vehicular movement on voting day.
We are now counting down to the elections, yet confidence in the police is at a low ebb. It is appalling to see that the police have become politicised to such an extent that they no longer owe allegiance to the public, but to their supreme leader in the person of president Ernest Koroma.
This is the 21st century, we must not relent in our efforts to bring about positive change.
Dr. Alhaji Kandeh Kolleh have made it abundantly clear that under his administration, if given the opportunity to govern, the police would be independent and impartial to effectively carry out their duties as stipulated in the constitution.
His administration would mark an end to social injustice; rule of law will prevail, and democracy will be the heartbeat of his administration.
Come March 7th, 2018, vote for a CHANGE that would restore trust and confidence in the police.