*By Joseph S. Margai, Strategic Communications Coordinator, State House*
Officials of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), have on Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, disclosed to newsmen at MOD’s headquarters on Tower Hill, Freetown, that seven military personnel are currently being investigated at the country’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in relation to the escape of Captain Patrick Edwin Kamara.
Capt. Kamara, who is believed to have escaped from the military custodial centre at Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown, in the early hours of Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, was on a court martial trial with two other accused persons.
Major Yayah Brima, Staff Officer Grade II in-charge of public relations and information, said Capt. Kamara and the other two accused persons-Warrant Officer Class I Samuel Conteh and Warrant Officer Class II Abu Bakarr Jalloh-were on court martial on five count charges.
“These charges include conspiracy to steal service property, larceny by servant, wilfully damaging service property, wilful neglect causing damage to service property and conduct to prejudice of good order and military discipline,” he noted.
He said Capt. Kamara and the two others were key members of the security detail of former President Ernest Bai Koroma from 1st January, 2008 to 19th June 2018.
“The quantities of ammunition for which they were being tried under the various offences include 4,245 rounds of 12.7 millimetre (mm) anti-aircraft rounds, 3,828 rounds of 14.5mm anti-aircraft rounds, 11 bombs of rocket propel grenade, six rounds 7.62 × 39mm ball lint, 11,476 rounds of 7.62×39mm ball, 14,100 rounds of 7.62×39mm tracer, 6,740 rounds of 7.62×51mm ball lint and 515 rounds of 9×18mm ball,” he explained.
He added that the MOD/RSLAF would like the public to know that the value of the above mentioned ammunition is eighty thousand, four hundred and two dollars and thirty cent (US$80,402.30), approximately six hundred and eighty-three million, four hundred and nineteen thousand, five hundred and fifty Leones (Le683,419,550).
He recalled that the very day Capt. Kamara escaped from the military custodial centre, his twin brother coincidentally passed away at Makoth, seven miles off Yonibana near Mile 91, Tonkolili district, Northwestern region of Sierra Leone, after a long illness.
He said the deceased, Michael Kamara, had first been admitted at the Chinese Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Centre at the 34 Military Hospital in Freetown before later moved to the village for native treatment, where he died.
“Following these coincidences, the MOD/RSLAF has followed some misleading and inaccurate story purporting that Capt. Kamara has died in detention. The writer is believed to have deliberately mistaken the death of Michael Kamara for the fugitive Capt. Kamara,” he said.
However, he said, the remains of Michael Kamara was conveyed to Freetown on the very day by deceased’s wife, Capt. Alice Koria Sesay, who is also a serving military officer.
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lt. Gen. Brima Sesay, said they have instituted necessary and proper actions regarding the escape and they have acted swiftly to hand over seven military personnel who were on duty during the escape, noting that they are being investigated at CID headquarters.
He said they have always been taking stringent actions against any military personnel who misbehaves, noting that the military would always be as good as the citizens want it to be.
He called on media practitioners to always crosscheck with MOD before they publish anything relating to the military.
Deputy Minister of Defence, Col. (Rtd.) Simeon Nasiru Sheriff, said regarding the escape, they have enhanced standard operating procedures, revisited security advisory, among other measures.
He also called on all media practitioners to crosscheck with MOD before they publish anything relating to the military.