Deputy Defense Minister Excels


With the Commander-in-Chief, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, too busy with matters of state to actively perform his duty as Minister of Defense, the mantle falls on his highly distinguished hard-working Deputy Minister of Defense, Retired Colonel Simeon Nasiru Sheriff.

A soldier with a highly developed sense of responsibility and commitment to his country and the men and women charged with the constitutional responsibility of protecting the state and its people from both internal and external aggression, on his appointment, addressing more than 1, 000 military personnel at the Hockey Pitch, Wilberforce Barrack, he appealed to the rank and file of RSLAF to refrain from political utterances and demonstrate unflinching loyalty to the ‘New Direction’ government.
Loyalty to the government of the day, Col. Sheriff impressed on RSLAF is a must; noting that as long as the people have chosen a new government, each and every military personnel is constitutionally obliged to support the people’s new government.
“Loyalty is not HIV/AIDS,” he said. “Loyalty is not a permanent health condition like the killer disease that one cannot change till death. As military personnel, your loyalty has to change from one democratically elected government to the other,” he emphasized.
Outlining “The New Direction” government’s agenda for RSLAF, Col. Sheriff said the government is committed to making progressive reforms of the military with focus on professionalism, de-politicization and equipping the force to enhance operational effectiveness.
Highlighting the key target areas, he said the first priority of the government is to improve the Terms and Conditions of Service (TACOS) for all ranks, which would address five key areas, namely: progressive salary scale, annual leave allowance, gratuity and pension matrix, welfare and resettlement plan for post military life.
The government, he added, is also committed to providing adequate housing facilities for military personnel and their families by constructing new accommodation where necessary and rehabilitating existing ones.

He suggested the establishment of the Armed Forces Project Management Committee on Barracks Construction to ensure the full use of all monies allocated for barracks construction and rehabilitation.
He assured RSLAF that the government would work towards mechanizing and modernizing the Army to enable it to generate revenue to contribute to non-traditional military functions such as relief, disaster interventions, agriculture and road construction. He stated that the plan could be achieved by revamping such units as the Maritime Wing, the Armed Forces Agricultural Unit and the Engineer Regiment, among others.

Recently, RSLAF established a vocational and technical academy that awards certificates to military and non-military personnel as the institution’s contribution to development of the country’s human capital resources. In terms of international peace-keeping, Col. Sheriff said the government would ensure a more transparent and value-added participation in Peace Support Operations (PSO) around the world, with RSLAF now earmarked as the main ECOWAS Standby Force for any subsequent operations in the sub-region.
He ended by disclosing that the government is going to implement the tri-service arrangement to reflect the Army, Navy and the Air Force in order to meet the constitutional obligations of the military, adding that the Army’s healthcare delivery service would be upgraded for both serving and retired personnel and their dependants.

34 Military Hospital continues to have excellent relationships with the Chinese, the British Army and the American Embassy in furtherance of medical excellence.

Sub-Regional Security

On a related national security issue, Col. Sheriff focusing on a major sub-regional concern has said that Transnational Organised Criminal Activities across West Africa continues to pose a serious security threat.

In his speech to the ECOWAS Early warning and Response Network (ECOWARN) workshop with National Intelligence Chiefs from 16 States, Col. Sheriff said that the large and extensive borders in West Africa and the continent at large make it almost impossible for individual countries to properly conduct border governance.

The region’s porous land and maritime borders he said provide loopholes for criminal networks and violent extremist groups to engage in trafficking small arms and light weapons (SALWs) drugs, humans, illegal immigration, piracy and armed robbery.

Another worrying security development is the recent increases in the destruction of life and property as a result of farmers/herders conflict in the sub region, especially in Northern Nigeria and Chad.

“This is one critical threat that ECOWARN should focus its radar on as it can lead to complex political problems” he said.

Security and intelligence experts, international partners and sub-regional think tank, he said,  have identified structural deficiencies typically known as common vulnerabilities spanning from porous territorial land and maritime boundaries, limited interstate and intrastate coordination on information intelligence sharing, unified criminal justice systems to markedly insufficient institutional security synergy among neighbouring states.

Also, he noted that persistent terrorist threats in West Africa and the Sahel region has become increasingly challenging with devastating spill-over effects as seen by the recent terrorists attacks in northern Burkina Faso, Minusma in Mali, the Lake Chad Basin region (Nigeria, Chad and Cameroun) Ivory Coast, a member of the MRU was also attacked.

“…intelligence report indicates that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb an affiliate of Al-Shabab have also threatened to attack both Sierra Leone and Guinea for contributing troops to fight in Somalia and Mali” the Deputy Minister said.

West Africa he warned continues to face diverse and evolving security threats such as violent extremism, illegal migration, maritime insecurity, transnational organised crimes, land disputes, climate change and contagious diseases.

Furthermore, violent extremist groups especially in West Africa, the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel he said are using suicide bombings, kidnapping and other forms of asymmetric attacks on local populations have over the period complicated conflict resolution and management in the sub region.

“ECOWAS should engage member states in the enhancement of their capacities to manage and resolve local and low intensity conflict be developing national mechanisms to reinforce existing peace and security architecture,” he urged.

In terms of professional qualification and experience as a career soldier, Col. Sheriff has a very impressive CV that reads as follows:

  • Participated in various international military courses whilst in active service with the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF)
  • Junior Division Staff Course (JDSC) in Jaji, Nigeria in 1995
  • Company Commander’s Course (Combat Team) Advanced Command and Staff Course (Senior Division), 1999 – 2001, at the Joint services Command and Staff College Shrivenham, Swindon, UK and War College in China
  • Certificates in Managing Defence in the Wider Security Context at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom (Cranfield)
  • Next generation of Africa Military Leaders Course, African Union Senior Leaders on Peacekeeping Operations at the Ethiopian Ministry of National Defence (EMOND), Addis Ababa
  • National Security Studies Publisher at the Galilee College, Israel
  • Diploma in Field Artillery at Field Artillery School Fort Sill Oklahoma, United States
    Military postings:

Col. SN Sheriff held various appointments in the RSLAF, including:

  • Platoon Commander
  • Adjutant
  • Company Commander of various units across RSLAF
  • Staff Officer Grade 3 and 2 operations
  • Staff Officer Grade 2 Intelligence Headquarters
  • Chief Instructor at the Armed Forces Training Centre
  • Commander 1& 4 Infantry Battalions
  • Commanded 5th Infantry Brigade in 2005 – 2007
  • Appointed Director of Defence Personnel, Chief of Staff Joint Force Command
  • Acting Commander Joint Force Headquarters
  • Director Military Operations at the Ministry of Defense until his retirement in 2015

Col SN Sheriff was born on 10 August 1959 in Najay, Panga – Kabondeh Chiefdom, Southern Sierra Leone, nine miles from the District Headquarters of Pujehun.

Educational Qualifications
Col. Sheriff started his primary education at the Roman Catholic Primary School in Mosenten, Kwamebai-Krim Chiefdom in Bonthe District.

He proceeded to the St Patrick’s Primary School, Bonthe, and Holy Family Primary, Pujehun, where he completed his primary school education.

Col Sheriff started his secondary education at St Paul’s Secondary School in Pujehun and later enrolled at the Eastern Polytechnic (formerly called Technical Institute) in Kenema and studied Engineering at a diploma level.

Thereafter, he attended Services Secondary School in Freetown to acquire his General Certificate of Education.

In 1985, he attended the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, United Kingdom as a cadet officer and was commissioned. He further graduated in the Regular Career College, Sandhurst.

He holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Development and Economics from the institute of Advanced Management and Technology affiliate of Njala University.

He has a Master of Arts Degree in Defense Studies from the School of Humanities, King’s College London (University of London).

Col. Sheriff is a fellow of the National Defense University in Beijing and a Research Student in the Africa Graduate University, Sierra Leone.

He has authored the following documents:
• The MOD’s Security Advisory
• Security Sector Review in Sierra Leone
• Defense White Paper
• Counter Terrorism Strategy
• Sierra Leone National Security and Policy document to mention but a few.

Col. Sheriff is separated from his wife. He has 4 children.

A keen sportsman. He enjoys jogging, playing volleyball and reading.