By Alhaji Haruna Sani
The shooting to death of the Regional Coordinator of the Operational Support Division (OSD) in the North-East Regional Headquarter of Makeni, ASP Mathew Mowah Gbanya, has received wider condemnation across the country.
What happened? On the night of 8th April, 2023, ASP Mathew Mowah Gbanya was shot and killed while he was sitting in his official vehicle in Makeni City, the regional headquarter town of North- East.
What institutions and individual say ? In their press release, the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) said it has launched a full-scale investigation into the said incident with the view to identifying not only the perpetrator but also to determine the motive behind the targeted killing. The police promised to further brief the public as the investigation progresses and called on the public to remain calm and go about their normal business.
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalist (SLAJ) in their April 9th Press release condemned the killing of the police officer and expressed concern about the safety and security of everybody working and living in the country.
The president of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla said “If Police officers become targets then nobody is safe in the country. I am also concerned about the safety and security of journalists covering the elections. We all need a safe and contusive environment to participate freely in elections.
Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Dr. Abass Bundu On behalf of Parliament expressed deepest sympathy for what he described as the most shocking, brutal and cowardly murder of ASP Mathew Moiwah Gbanya.
He urged the police to spare no effort in investigating the dishonorable incident in order to bring to justice the perpetrators and their sponsors and collaborators.
Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) referred to the killing as an act of cruelty and inhumanity.” There is no justification for taking the life of another person, whether a uniformed officer or a civilian. We further call on Political Parties, Civil Society Organisations and Religious Organisations to work with the police to de-escalate tensions in the communities,”.
Both the Bobali District Human Rights Committee (BDHRC) and the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) strongly condemns the brutal killing of the police, referring to the act as inhumane thereby calling the Small Arms Commission of Sierra Leone to help in the investigation of the killing.
The two main political parties, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress (APC) vehemently condemned the act of killing of the police calling for a thorough, speedy and conclusive investigation.
The Bigger Picture: Killing of police officers by civilians or uniformed personnel had never been part of Sierra Leone’s history except during the eleven years rebel war. Since then, we only had such ugly incidents during the 2022 August 10 violent protest.
And what more? Willthe possible assassin be apprehended? If yes, then how soon would police conclude investigations and bring the perpetrators to book? Would this investigation not end like others where citizens’ lives were wrongfully taken? Observers are keen to see the pace and outcome of the police investigation.