Pa Baimba Sesay :
The recent development in our capital, between students of a secondary school and our police force calls for a complete retrospect by the police leadership on a range of issues. From recruitment to its public relations response to serious issues like this, we can only suggest that a review is done, if the force is to be seen working in tandem with the drive of the Government and especially that of our president Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma for a prosperous and better country. This Government’s legacies should not be soiled by a certain few. I strongly hold the view the force has been doing its best in the last couple of years since leadership moved hands from a British to a Sierra Leonean. But there have been challenging moments that need a retrospect. I have been a defender of the force both within and out of Sierra Leon. I have done series of interviews with top officials of the force. I think I also owe the duty to ask them to rethink on few issues.
THE AUTHOR AND IG MUNU ( LEFT )
I condemn violence in any form. I have been a student for years. I partook in student demonstrations like the one in 2005 or so at FBC when we climbed down town in protest over some issues. I know what it means when students are angry. The world over, there are moments when a country’s law enforcing agency could be forced to make use of live weapons. And where maximum force is used, thus leading to the death of a citizen, there is the moral and professional responsibility to state why such force was used. In public relations, one should talk only when and where necessary. Talk not, because the microphone is before you. The media have their way of going for the news and as a PR expert, you should know when, where and how to say what. The PR wing of the SLP may have been doing some good job. But in defending the recent incident, it may have missed some basics. I listened to ASP Samura of the media wing on Star Radio. Yes, I listened to him. The need for a review cannot be overemphasized. The need for a senior management level person to begin doing the talking on serious issues like this is timely, if not urgent.
On the 14th of November, I listened to Ibrahim Tommy of the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) and Madam Memuna Conteh, Local Unit Commander of Eastern Police, on Star Radio. From the lady, I saw sincerity of purpose and I was impressed when she said, seeing the corpse of the student, she grieved, and reacted like any parent. She was bold in condemning the killing, accepting the credibility of the autopsy report, and she promised that the police leadership will bring to book whosoever is responsible. A woman of courage! This is a challenging moment for the force, I think. Tommy was fair in also condemning the act, and at the same time making recommendations. And the need for a review of the force’s PR came in, in Tommy’s recommendation. The issue of recruitment comes in here. It is good we have a lot of young people into the force as it helps in addressing the challenge of unemployment. But it is worrying at the same time, having people with questionable background. Get background checks on people applying to join the force could be needed, to know their records. But here, we also expect society to play a leading role by helping in scanning those they know want to get into the force and get the leadership informed. By this way, we are helping address societal challenge of not having bad guys into the force. The Operational Support Department should be looked at. Ibrahim Tommy called for a kind of background check, before weapons are given to some of them. I cannot agree more.
Inspector-General of Police Francis Allieu Munu must rise to the challenge. The Government is well placed and is currently determined to improve the lives of the people and working hard in reshaping the image of our country. Along this line, security is paramount. The President cannot do it alone. When you have a selected few bad eggs in the force, they should be fished out so that the president’s drive for a better country cannot be taken backwards. If we play our roles in our different work places diligently, then we are sure of not spoiling the gains we have made and in the same vein, protecting the legacies of President Koroma. That young lad killed could have been my youngest brother, who is almost of the same age as the late boy. It is sad that he could leave us at a time like this to meet our maker in an unprepared manner. My sympathy goes to the bereaved family and may the soul of the late boy RIP. Again, we need to investigate what may have caused the incident and an affirmative action taken by stakeholders. RIP boy, RIP.