*By Sheka* *Tarawalie* *(Shekito* )*
The Inspector General of Police is indisputably the chief enforcer of the law. In that regard, the powers vested in him by the state include both the prevention of crime and the execution or implementation of all legal orders especially when they are apparently being disobeyed.
It is in this vein that I am calling on the Inspector General of Police, Dr. Richard Moigbeh, to ensure that the orders of the High Court of Sierra Leone relating to the conduct of the March 31st run-off elections are fully complied with by the National Electoral Commission(NEC).
We have already heard from the Attorney General & Minister of Justice, who was also a defendant in the said case, stressing the need to obey the court orders. We have also heard from many law-abiding citizens calling on NEC to go by the court orders.
And indeed, or in fact, what is being required of NEC is really very simple and should not be controversial at all where fair play is an ingredient. NEC’s recent press releases, including the latest one of 29th March, have been giving the impression that they are willing to abide by the law. If that is so, what is really cumbersome about obeying the court orders that a transparent non-electronic transfer of results be used in the run-off to remove all doubts from citizens when the results are eventually announced? If, by NEC’s own acknowledgement, there were many irregularities in the first round and now a court has given orders that would eliminate such irregularities and clear the doubts of all and sundry, why is NEC finding it difficult to just do that if there’s no hidden motive?
The Constitution of Sierra Leone which gives NEC its over-trumpeted ‘independence’ is the same Constitution that states that “any orders, rules, regulations and other statutory instruments made by any person or authority pursuant to a power conferred in that behalf by this Constitution or any other law” are part of the laws of this country (Section 170).
Therefore, the Inspector General of Police, being the Sheriff of the Judiciary by virtue of his position, has a duty to ensure that the orders of the High Court are applied to the letter during tomorrow’s elections. Indeed, when the interim injunction was slammed on the activities of NEC, it was the police that ensured that it was obeyed by sealing off all NEC offices until the injunction was lifted. Now that the same Court has given specific orders to the same NEC, it is the mandate of the police to ensure that they are obeyed.
In this respect, members of the public would expect that the Inspector General of Police would transmit these court orders to all officers of the police force, particularly those who have been assigned to police the elections, to ensure that the orders of the court are followed throughout all the stages of the elections conduct.
Certainly, NEC knows that they are bound by the court orders. That was why they announced in a press release that they were complying with the High Court’s interim injunction by halting all preparations for the run-off; and that was why they went to the Supreme Court for a judicial review. And if through the negligence or ignorance of their own lawyers the Supreme Court could not hear their case, they only have themselves to blame.
All the public now wants to see is for the Inspector General of Police to rise to the occasion and do his job. A first step could be to work with NATCOM to ensure that all the machinery or technology that has the capacity to be used in disobeying the court orders is disabled. Thereafter, officers in the field must be instructed to follow all the steps laid out by the court orders from the polling booth to the district to the region to national headquarters.
That should not be a difficult function to perform in ensuring law and order prevails!
The soul of this nation is hanging on tomorrow’s elections – everybody must play his or her role in protecting it!