January 25, 2018 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Director of Operations of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) has stated that there would be no vehicular movement on polling day, and that only those accredited by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) would be allowed to ply the streets across the country.
Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Fodie Umaru Daboh claimed they have decided to take the controversial decision as a result of intelligence report that certain people have arranged to move in large numbers with machetes in vehicles to disrupt voting.
“And for us to have strong sense of security on that, we have stopped vehicular movement. We will give accreditation to utility vehicles to move around,’’ he said, noting that they would not prevent the movement of people.
The Police operations chief said traffic officers would be very busy with elections business and would not be able to do their normal routine, adding that they have the constitutional mandate to stop the movement of people in order to restore sanity.
“We will give accreditation to vehicles of political parties, but government vehicles will be restricted, except ambulances and other service personnel in collaboration,” he explained.
He said the Police Act of 1964 gave them the right to control vehicular movement in the country, and that they have realised that vehicular movement could disrupt the electioneering process.
“The March 7th 2018 election will be manned by high level people of integrity from the police and others in the security sector. Let them be rest assured that the police will and always remain neutral,” he said, apparently referring to the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party, which had rejected calls to sign a memorandum of understanding with the police pertaining to the vehicular ban.
AIG Daboh said their personnel have participated in several trainings and that he believes they are now well prepared to efficiently undertake their professional duty.
He said if all stakeholders in the elections process live up to their task, the elections would be very peaceful and transparent.
“If every political party has a polling agent that is well behaved and sober minded, there would be no cause to complain. But some political parties would send polling agents that are already drunk and could not pay attention to what’s happening in the place, thus creating tension at the polling centres,” he alleged, without naming any party.
He revealed that the Sierra Leone Police has evidence of party agents found drunk, thus making allusion to the village headmen elections in the Western Area Rural District last December.
However, the police are only making this startling revelation now, while headmen elections late last year were not based on partisan representation.
He appealed to National Electoral Commission staff to arrive at polling centres on time on elections day, as experience during the headmen elections was that election officers did not report at the centres on the stipulated time.
FUK Daboh, who was speaking yesterday on the ‘Gud morning Salone programme’ on Radio Democracy 98.1, revealed that the SLP would soon have their 112 communication lines up and running for emergency calls.
“We have been fully funded. All the applications and submissions have been funded and almost all the remittances of the money which the police applied for to aid personnel movement were all ready,” he revealed.
He stated that a total of 74 vehicles have been procured, 35 of which have been received in December while the remainder would be received soon.
The operations boss recalled that last week they invited political parties to sign a memorandum of understating relating to security and vehicular movement on elections day, but disclosed that the Sierra Leone Peoples Party walked out on the grounds that they were not comfortable with restriction of vehicles on elections day.
“Let the SLPP know that we are not stopping anybody. We are just doing the right thing. All we want to do is to ensure some decency, fairness and sanity on elections day. Though they walked out, at the end of the day 85% of the political parties signed,” he said.