Titus Boye-Thompson Strategic Media & Development Communications Unit
Recently promoted Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG Memuna Konteh this afternoon defended her decision to disperse an unlawful procession through the streets of the capital, Freetown this morning. In a press conference called by the Sierra Leone Police this afternoon at Police Headquarters, AIG Konteh insisted that it was well within her mandate to disperse a rally purported to have been called by a group calling themselves the “Timber Harvesters and Processors” because from her investigations, it was revealed that no such rally had been given prior consent to be organized and march through the capital’s streets.
It must be recalled that it is unlawful for any assembly to be constituted and paraded through the streets of Freetown without lawful authority and an appropriate level of policing from the Sierra Leone Police. She announced that her Regional Policing area was calm and quiet even as she addressed the press conference because she had marshaled her force to take prompt and rigorous action to disband the unauthorized and unlawful rally. She announced that the group was given several warnings to dispersed and not until she decided to increase police strength by calling in support from the OSD Unit attached to her Region did she had recourse to teargas as a deterrent to the unlawful behavior such as stone throwing that resulted in the seeming affray.
The Police arrested certain persons during the scuffle and on interrogating them, the name of one Mr Alie Suma, a licensed timber exporter was mentioned as the person responsible for putting the group together in an attempt to campaign for the Youth President position.
The group which is still unverified as being lawful, constituted of around 3,000 youths approached the city from the East end this morning in several vehicles, dressed in white tee shirts. They converged at Blackhall Road and were moving towards the center of town. The police operation succeeded in ending the rally and the youths were dispersed without much disruption to normal life in the city.
IG Memuna also reported that this operation follows an earlier operation to pre-empt lawlessness and unlawful behavior by residents of Freetown who celebrate 11th May as a memorial to a late Reggae artist, Robert Nestor Marley. The usual actions were for young people to roam the streets and publicly smoking cannabis. AIG Konteh frowned on the unlawful activities that are normally allowed to go on at this celebration every year and she lamented the fact that in recent years, the unlawfulness had been extended to damage to property, theft and other crimes. This year, she reported that the action by the Sierra Lone Police to raid illegal smoking joints and other such places resulted in demolition of these spots and a registered reduction in criminal activity come May 11th.
AIG Memuna Konteh is fondly referred to as the “Iron Lady” of the force and her approach to her job in activating a zero tolerance strategy on lawlessness must be applauded.