By Amin Kef
The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles and the new Inspector General of Police (IG) Dr. Richard Moigbeh have pledged to work together to ensure the March 2018 Elections are free of violence and intimidation.
During a courtesy call on IG Moigbeh at his George Street Office in Freetown, Ms. Carlton-Hanciles assured him of the Board’s continued support to the Police Force. ‘We will continue to support you, even more than we were giving to your immediate predecessor,’ she assured the new IG.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles briefed him on ongoing efforts at establishing Anti-Election Violence Platforms around the country which are aimed at ensuring peaceful elections. She said the Local Police Partnership Board have been involved in the consultative meetings with civil society organizations, affiliates Unions of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress and community stakeholders on the Platforms. ‘The Platform will be launched at a grand ceremony at the Miata Conference Center in Freetown on 31 January 2017,’she intimated the IG.
She said the Board is giving out telephone numbers of senior police officers to the Platforms to improve communication, ensure rapid response to threat to security and assist with prosecuting those engage in violence in the community.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said the Police should be prepared for lots of litigations by political parties after nominations have been done. ‘This has the potential for violence, we should therefore begin to prepare the people not to allow themselves to be used by selfish politicians,’ she said. ‘We should prepare for a situation in which the politicians will be fighting their battles in the courts while their supports will be wrecking violence in the streets.’
The new Inspector General of Police Dr. Richard Moigbeh said the Force will continue to build on the strong relationship with the Board. He underlined the commitment of the Force to providing peace and security for the elections. He assured that the Force will remain neutral and independent noting that those who are interested in politics have been advised to resign. ‘One officer heeded our advice and resigned to go into politics,’ he said,
Speaking on preparedness for the elections, he said morale is very high in the Force following the promotion of some 4,000 officers, which is unprecedented in the history of the Force. Also, personnel have received their rice supplies owed them. ‘Junior Officers received eight bags of rice in backlog,’ he disclosed. ‘This means less stress on our personnel because their partners will cause less problems.’
He said the Force has been very effective at providing security for flagbearers, offices of political parties and campaign rallies. Also, a lot has been done in weeding out hardcore criminals from society and keeping them in jail.
He said since assuming office in December 2017 he has engaged civil organizations and the media in Freetown and Kono to ensure they work with the police in ensuring the elections are peaceful.