A Video footage of khaki boys threatening to kill those who plan to disturb the peace of the state has gone viral. The threats are the hottest topics for discussion among the public adding to an already worsening security situation in Sierra Leone.
The jubilant soldiers brandish their AK-47 assault rifles to the public to instil fear in would-be offenders. They are presidential guards dancing within the premises of state lodge. One of the dancing military personnel threatened that anybody who tries President Bio would be gunned down.
Clearly, it is never an issue of threatening the President. What is clear, the army personnel wanted to make mountains of a mole hill. What came out clear from the threats is that the rioters have been forgiven by the army for the days of rioting within the city.
He said this time, the army would no longer accept it from anybody. The threats to kill anyone who ventured the street have also brought the army under a negative spotlight. The latest move has made members of the public to link the guards to the killings of April, 29 in Freetown.
It was a horrific moment in Sierra Leone’s history as a mere attempted jail break caused the deaths of more than 30 inmates at the country’s main correctional centre in Freetown. Accounts from reliable sources however puts the figure higher than 30.
The threats from the army came after waves of civil disorders by ‘Okada’ riders who were banned from plying the Central Business District. Forces of law and order found it difficult to restrain the rioters who thought their right to ply had been deprived of them.
The aftermath of the ban on the Okada riders was terrible. Workers at the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) deserted their building owing to an invasion by Okada Riders.
Police officers too were not spared. Most were physically assaulted in public places, an action that instilled fear in other police officers to come to the scene of the riot and restore order there. The armed wing of the police, the Operations Support Division was called in to quell down the riot.
They came in, and indeed order was restored, but not completely. Lawlessness and brutality almost took over the entire Freetown. The police cannot completely resist pockets of resistance in some isolated communities in Freetown.
Some members of the public say it is bad for the forces of law and order to allow rabbles to overrun professionally trained officers under an organised command and control structure.
Violence persists, and almost every resident in Freetown fears for their safety. It is an established fact that fear of crime is more potent than real crime itself. It brings about emotional issues and panic if not properly handled.
A senior police officer has said the security forces should not allow a group of persons to hold the state to ransom. Yesterday has been declared a day of huge protests in the capital city by Okada riders in an event the police continue their harassment and intimidation on them.
The declaration of protests compelled many peaceful civilians to stay indoors to avoid the Okada threats. Those who own shops could not come out to sell. The army work side by side with the police under MACP (Military Aid to Civil Power) protocols in public order situations.
But, the MACP document is clear on what situation that warrants military intervention in internal order. The underlying principle in civil disorder situations is that of police primacy.
This means the army would come in only when there is an apparent lack of police capacity to handle the riot.
According to the document, the army must not come at the early stage of a civil disorder. They only come in when it is clear that the survival of the state is under threat, and the police are constrained to restore order.
It is not about issuing threats of killing the people, but it is about working out modalities to restore peace in the most effective and peaceful way. The threats from the guards at State Lodge have provoked public outrage and resentment among Sierra Leoneans including those in the diaspora.
A Sierra Leonean resident in Germany, Alimamy Kamara has not reserved his criticism for the Bio administration for a number of illegal killings in the country.
Kamara who was in Sierra Leone during the elections told this press that President Julius Maada seems constrained to save the country from violence. He is highly critical of the President for his failure to bring to justice those responsible for the violence and killings in the country.
Kamara said the President was inclined to bias in the enforcement of state laws. The move, he said, weakened the law-enforcement machinery.
Whenever violent situations erupt anywhere anytime in any part of the country, Kamara says, especially between the ruling and another opposition party, supporters of the opposition would be arrested and locked up.
Those on the side of the ruling party would be spared.
The arrest, detention and killings with impunity made Kamara to see President Bio as a leader that condones acts of violence and killings.
“Almost all former flag-bearer aspirants for the 2018 elections accuse President Bio of violence. He is exhibiting what he is accused of,” he said.
Most of the killings, kamara went on, were carried out in opposition strongholds. He made reference to several incidents of terrible killings in northern Sierra Leone, the heartland of the main opposition.
He cited the killing of six youths in the northeast headquaters of Makeni in an attempt to relocate a 1.65KVA generator by the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA). The youths in Makeni saw government’s move to relocate the machine as illegal, and protested against the move.
The army were also accused to have borne a hand in the killings in the home of the former President. It was a moment of horror in Makeni where sporadic gunshots rented the air everywhere in the township.
Other residents in Makeni held the suspicion that the actions of the soldiers were a naked move to go after the life of former President, Ernest Bai Koroma.
Similar Killings were also carried out by a joint force of military and Police officers in Rosengbe Village on a raid for Canabis.
Canabis is outlawed in Sierra Leone, and conviction for its mere possession would land one in prison for years. The raid was indiscriminate and lethal. Those who had no connection to Canabis were also targeted.
During the raid, houses of peaceful and innocent people were broken into, motor cycles and money seized, local produce carted away by security operatives. They believed that the goods and produce were proceeds of the sale of Canabis.
A commercial motorist who refused to hand over his bike on demand by the security operatives was shot at.
Apart from those killings, other waves of killings also occur almost daily. The spate of killings has forced members of the public to call on government to restore sanity.
Others have demanded the resignation of the Inspector-General of Police for an apparent lack of police professionalism. Kamara in Germany also calls on government to stop the violence. He said the People’s power could not be resisted.