The United Nations Resident Coordinator to Sierra Leone, Babatunde Ahonsi and team held a meeting with the Inspector General of Police on the 6th September 2022, at the Police Headquarters on George Street in Freetown.
Babatunde Ahonsi congratulated the IGP on his appointment and extended condolence, on behalf of the UN Family, to the Police for the loss of six (6) Police personnel as a result of the August 10 violent protests.
He extensively and exhaustively dilated on the Sustainable Development Goals, the August 10 incident, the arrested suspects access to their legal teams and relatives, capacity building for the Police to respond to situations of law breaking, communication in Policing activities, coordination with other donor partners and for the SLP to operate from the understanding that effective policing is compatible to human rights standards.
He further maintained that the UN has invested a lot in terms of security reforms equally referencing about the high level interactions that is presently ongoing between UNDP, UNICEF and the SLP.
According to him, the August 10 incident provided a lesson learned for improving on the work of the Police.
He also spoke about people in detention that has not be given legal presentation, civilian corpses yet to be released to their relatives and concerns about who to release and not.
The Resident Coordinator commended the Police for their critical role they play in society, the provision of security and safety for UN staff including high level personnel of the United Nations.
He entreated the IGP and the Police family to maintain a harmonious collaborative relationship between the Police and the UN so that a strategy can be mapped out on how to forestall a situation that will not arise in future were in children get involved in violent demonstrations and end up being in detention rather than focusing on education.
He thanked the Police, Government and the People of Sierra Leone adding that they are working with donor partners on how to enhance a better life for disadvantaged Sierra Leoneans.
In response, the IGP welcomed the UN Resident Coordinator and team for the engagement.
He said the August 10 incident was not a peaceful demonstration but a violent one that led to the loss of lives of Police Officers, civilians, damaging of Police property, looting, burning of Government property and Police Stations.
He referenced the Public Order Act of 1965 that calls for an application to be made to the IGP before staging any demonstration adding that the August 10 incident was a faceless one as nobody applied or showed up but there were only threats on social media.
He extensively spoke of arrest, release of juvenile children to the Social Welfare Ministry and Don Bosco maintaining that the children have been re-united with their parents.
The Inspector General stated that the ongoing investigation are in different folds like cyber, murder, looting, burning of Police Stations and Government buses, larceny, riotous conduct, incitement and financing of the entire episode.
He furthered that thirty (30) corpses are still in the mortuary; of which eighteen (18) of them have been identified by their relatives saying postmortem examination will be conducted on them.
William Fayai Sellu spoke about the arrest of some who murdered the Police Officers adding that some of the suspects that were arrested have been released due to lack of evidence. He, however, assured the Resident Coordinator and team of a speedy, fair and independent investigation.
The IGP said equally the rights of the suspects are respected as their relatives and lawyers visit them and went on to highlight the numerous challenges faced by the Sierra Leone Police especially in the areas of mobility, logistics, personnel strength especially as the country approaches a general electioneering period with the voters’ registration exercise currently in progress nationwide.
He appealed for specific trainings for the security sector targeting the sister forces and the Police maintaining how the Police alone cannot police the entire elections without the support of sister forces.
IG Sellu noted that they have intention to rollout training packages from now to December and January 2023.
The IG disclosed how the Police have made tremendous strides in setting up a radio station but said there is a challenge to get permission for frequency modulation from the relevant authorities.
He concluded by stating that the radio station will not only be used by the Police but is meant for the use by the security sector.
(C) The Calabash Newspaper