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‘Extreme poverty in the military is a security risk’

- says Military chief

December 17, 2015 By Joseph S. Margai (Intern)

Chief of Defense Staff of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), Lt. General Samuel O. Williams, has noted that it is bad for military officers to live in extreme poverty because they may compromise security for pittance.

He made the statement while addressing military personnel of both the 4th Brigade at Teko Barracks in Makeni and the 5th Brigade at Gondama Barracks in Bo on a rumour relating to government’s alleged embezzlement of leave allowances of LEOBATT personnel.

Lt. Gen. Williams said government has created space for RSLAF members to be included in peacekeeping operations and also improve their condition of living.

“That was why when you returned from Somalia we advised you to use your money wisely. I know some of you have misused your money and now spreading false rumour about government embezzlement of leave allowances because you are financially handicapped,” he said, noting government’s desire for all members of the RSLAF to live a standard life so as to discourage them from being influenced to breach security.

Regarding the two peace support operations, Lt. Gen. Williams disclosed to the personnel that the RSLAF embarked on two operations including UNAMID, supported by the United Nations (UN), and AMISOM supported by the African Union (AU), adding that the UN used to pay leave and recreation allowances of US$1.28 per day on the ground but that such provision was not made by the African Union.

“Before you left for the African Union Mission in Somalia, we asked all of you to open individual bank accounts where your monies were being paid by the AU, and government had no access to those bank accounts,” said the CDS. “I have written a letter to the bank and the AU headquarters in Ethiopia demanding a clarification on this rumour, but the bank has replied that there was no money sent into your accounts as leave allowances. The AU replied through the Sierra Leone High Commission in Ethiopia that we should give them some time to investigate and will reply to my letter soon.”

He reminded the personnel that the peace support operation is purely based on contract and that payment of allowances to personnel comes to a halt at the end of the contract.

“We have written a letter to the AU again about three of our personnel who were wounded in action, asking them for compensation and we have received a reply that consideration is being given to that issue because it is in our contract agreement. The RSLAF has a mandate to defend this country and so we should believe in what the Chief of Defence Staff says and stop spreading false rumour,” he admonished.

LEOBATT One Commander in Somalia, Col. Abubakarr Conteh, encouraged the personnel to have trust in the statement of the CDS, noting that there was no leave allowance paid by the AU for them.

He advised them to remain calm as the RSLAF was doing everything possible to improve their conditions of living.

At the Teko Barracks, the Brigade Commander Col. S.I. Sesay told the CDS and team that they have secured over five acres of land to be used as cemetery for dignified burial of RSLAF members.

He said with support from donors like Vice President Victor Foh, ACC boss Joseph Kamara and other well-wishers, they are constructing a wall to protect the land from intruders.

At Gondama Barracks, the Brigade Commander Col. Alhasssan Bangura told the CDS that there were 15 newly constructed flats meant for personnel but noted that they were yet to be commissioned.

He said there are three apartments self-contained with each containing two bedrooms and a parlour plus external kitchens to house 45 families of other ranks in the military. He said the buildings represent the first phase of a project funded by the Government of Sierra Leone.