March 23, 2020
By Jariatu S. Bangura
Members of Parliament on Friday urged the new police Inspector General, Ambrose M. Sovula , to restore public confidence and trust in the Sierra Leone Police (SLP).
The new police chief was approved together with, Dr. Bondi Gevao- Board Chairman of the Environmental Protection Agency, Zainu Deen Karim-member at Local Content Policy, Dr. Abdul Jalloh and Col. (Rtd) Samuel Erasmus Tucker-Board members at Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
Hon. Abdul Kargbo said the Sierra Leone Police is an institution that should not be remote-controlled by anybody, noting that the problem of the nation lies on the independence of the police.
“When the previous IG was in office, the SLP did a lot of incorrect acts beyond its constitutional mandate. Among others were the incident in Kabala, mile 91 and the election at 110. The said incidents are still fresh on our minds,” he said.
He said all the incidents happened before the watch of the current IG, adding that it was right in his presence that civilians were destroying ballot boxes and none of them were arrested.
“Those who destroyed the ballot boxes were never arrested. Instead, I was the one arrested. During the time of my arrest, I was told that they will make sure to keep me quiet whilst I serve as MP in the Chamber, but I told them that the only time I will be quiet is when my corpse will be laid at the State Hall of Parliament for burial,” he said.
Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh said he was severely beaten by the police under the APC regime before he became an elected Member of Parliament for Constituency 132.
He said the new IG is a hard-working man and that his mission is to settle issues amicable, adding that the president made no mistake by appointing him because he is a patriotic.
“As a police officer of this country, his appointment will make the force a better one and by extension, change the mindset that the previous government has left on the minds of officers,” Tawa said.
Hon. Rugiatu Bangura recalled that the public have witnessed cases, where police officers intimated peaceful civilians, and that the pain of police brutally removing them out of parliament was still fresh on their minds.
She said the police force has recruitment criteria, but claimed that most time qualified personnel were deleted during the process.
“We want a disciplined force as it is no longer a force for good. We are no longer safe in the hands of the police. Do your duty diligently. A day will come when there will be no one to save you. Serve this country with a clear conscience and do not allow to be used by no one. We are vulnerable hence we need your protection as women,” she stated.
Hon. Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella said the late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah devoted his time to train the Police professionally.
“When you hear the views of Hon. Tawa and Kargbo on the brutality of Police force during the two regimes, it means that there is no trust in the police force. The Amnesty report and others in 2018 shows that there are too much police brutality based on the proportionate force that is being used. It is clear that you are inheriting a bad force. The public does not have trust in you, so you have to restore that trust,” he said.
He said the statements were the same, with different scenario, but urged that the new IG takes the responsibility to protect the democracy of the country.
“Some of us have suffered but there is lack of intervention of the police or over reaction in protecting our rights of freedom of expression. Do your part and avoid the politics,” he said.
He said the new IG will be inheriting a big challenge and that he has to restore trust of the public, adding that politicians were trying to corrupt the police and that it was manifested during the last election.
Hon. Chernoh R. M Bah said as lawyers, they have come across so many police officers that carried their duties badly.
He stated that what happened in the Chamber in April of 2018 and at the APC party office will always be fresh in their hearts, adding that even when they have forgiven, they will not forget the brutality caused by the police force.