SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT FOR MAJOR (RTD) ALFRED PALO CONTEH
We are alarmed by the Press Release dated the 20th day of March 2020 issued by the Criminal Investigation Unit relating to a Criminal Investigation against Major (Rtd) Alfred Palo Conteh, Former Minister of Defense, Former Minister of Internal Affairs, a qualified lawyer and a military man for over 40 years.
Major (Rtd) Alfred Palo Conteh was called back to national service by no less a person than His Excellency (Retired Brigadier) Dr. Julius Maada Bio. On Monday 16th March 2020 he was invited to State House to share his knowledge and experience from the Ebola response with a view to helping the Government plan for and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic in the unfortunate event it is detected in Sierra Leone. He did not invite himself to State House, he was called by his President to serve and he did not ignore his call as COVID-19 is a national emergency, it is not a political issue. Major Rtd Alfred Palo Conteh agreed to attend that meeting and at the meeting, he gave his commitment to assist the Government, seeing this situation as his patriotic duty to help his country and to be of service in these difficult times.
Given his past experience, his lack of personal security and his very public face, Major (Rtd) Alfred Palo Conteh is known to always carry a gun with him. He has the necessary permits under the Arms and Ammunition Act of 2012 and is licensed to carry a concealed weapon for his own protection. In the face of the government failing to provide security for the Former Defense and Internal Affairs Minister as protocol demands, he secured a legal hand gun to protect himself and his family.
He was invited to a subsequent meeting at State House on Thursday 19th March and he had in his car, his bag which contained his gun and license. When he got to State House, he did not think it prudent to leave the bag with his gun in the car given the level of pedestrian traffic at State House around parked vehicles. He decided to take his bag in with him and upon entry to State House, he walked directly to security and handed over his bag and informed them that he needed to leave his bag with them since the bag contained his personal gun and license. State House security in fact had waived him on to go on upstairs. But being diligent, he refused to take his bag upstairs and checked it in with security. He was then allowed to proceed upstairs to the meeting location.
Major Rtd Alfred Palo was in the office of the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP) with a number of other people who were also waiting for the meeting to start, approximately 45 minutes after he entered statehouse, when State House security personnel came in and asked him if he owned the bag. He indicated, in the presence of everyone present, that yes it was his bag and he had checked it in and informed security that his personal gun was in it. He was then told that he could not proceed to the meeting since he had to make a statement to CID personnel about the gun. The other attendants proceeded to the meeting without him. State House security then asked everyone present in the room to not speak about this incident outside of State House.
Major Rtd Alfred Palo Conteh gave a statement and he was allowed to leave State House but his gun and license were confiscated. Major Rtd Alfred Palo Conteh did make it clear in his statement given at Statehouse, and as was witnessed by those at the security desk when he arrived, that he voluntarily handed in his bag and clearly disclosed that there was a gun inside. He had made no attempt to take the bag to the meeting and had proceeded upstairs to attend the meeting, without the bag. Any attempt to say otherwise and to imply that he went to State House with any mal intent is an attempt to frame Major Rtd Alfred Palo Conteh for a crime he did not commit.
The only crime that Major Rtd Alfred Palo Conteh committed is refusing to heed the warning of his friends and family who told him to stay away and not offer his assistance in this time of need, out of mistrust for this government. His only crime is daring to answer the call of his President. His desire to serve humanity and his people is why he is currently facing this crisis. Major Rtd Alfred Palo Conteh could have left his bag in the car and avoided this incident but he was concerned that it may fall into the wrong hands and felt that State House security was the best place for it.
Major Rtd Alfred Palo Conteh is not a criminal and he has not committed a crime. Any attempt to insinuate otherwise is an attempt to frame and imprison him unjustly.
Dated the 21st Day in March 2020
From the Palo Conteh Family