Security lapse at Youyi building!


Armed robbers ransack Transport Minister’s office

July 1, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi

Three people including one Mohamed Bangura, who is attached to the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, are currently at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters in Freetown helping the police in their investigation into an alleged armed robbery at the Youyi building, which houses over nine government ministries, departments and agencies.

It was revealed that on Monday 29th June a group of armed robbers stormed the building and vandalized the offices of the Ministers of Transport and Aviation; Mineral and Marine Resources; and Local Government.

According to reports, the robbers sneaked into the building from the back after all the workers had gone home at night, though police and private security personnel are stationed at the building, which also has a police post at the main entrance into the building.

“We have private security personnel within the building but unfortunately they don’t seem to be equal to the task for which they are being paid to perform,” said Moses Kanu, a worker in one of the ministries.

Thomas Freeman, Manager of Sabrina Security Group, a private security firm responsible for security at Youyi building, said the matter is under investigation and that they are working with the Sierra Leone police to nab the perpetrators.

“It is very obvious that this private security group does not have the capacity to secure the premise. In fact the workers have gone for six months without receiving their salary, so how can the security be effective,” claimed Osman Kamanda, another worker at Youyi building.

However, Constable Sesay attached to the Youyi building police post said though they are also around as security men, it is private security personnel that are in charge of the overall security of the building.

According to him, only two Operational Support Division (OSD) personnel are attached to the security post. He said they have received report that the computer set of the Minister of Transport, Leonard Balogun Koroma, was catered away by the robbers.

It could be recalled that over a year ago, the Sierra Leone Police and ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) agreed on the need for the decongestion of Youyi building as part of strategies to respond to terrorist threats posed to the country by the Al-Shabaab Islamist group.

This resolve was made during a security meeting held at Police headquarters in Freetown, during which the officials discussed issues of access control within and around Youyi building, porous perimeter security fencing, the issuing of employees/visitors ID cards, among others.

During the meeting, the officials agreed among others that employees and visitors should not be allowed entrance into the building without possession of an identification card, so that security personnel will be able to identify everybody entering the premises.

For this, they agreed on the implementation of a movement dairy which will be used to record names and visiting hours of persons.

Aminata Fofanah, a worker at Youyi building, said apart from the maintenance lapses, the security arrangements in the building can best be described as “messy”.

She said the building and its environs are more like a home for loiterers, including beggars and a garage for scrap vehicles.

“Go and check the parking space at Youyi building and I bet you will see a lot of scrap vehicles that have been parked there for many years. With this reality, there is every possibility for thieves and drug addicts to use these abandoned vehicles as hideouts to perpetrate their nefarious acts,” she said. “And the fact that nothing is being done to look into this very serious matter is a recipe for suspicion that some authorities are either conniving with these criminals or they simply just don’t care about whatever happens to government property.”