Commentary

Security Alert!

Lately, many citizens have been jittery and having sleepless nights as armed robbers raid vulnerable outskirt communities at night in the Western Area. Similarly, quite recently police commanders in Bo and Kenema reported that there has been an increase in the incident of armed robberies which has caused the people living in outlying settlements like New London, Kebbie Town and other places sleepless nights. Lungi, the international airport town was also quite recently hit by a wave of armed robberies resulting in the wanton killing of a number of victims.

As the lively Xmas festive season arrives with many visitors from the Diaspora expected to come home to be with their families, relatives, loved ones and friends, the country’s security apparatus should be reminded that they have to be extra vigilant to ensure that law and order is maintained the length and breadth of the country.

Whilst many Local Unit Commanders report a low level crime rate in their divisions, there are some areas like Lumley in the west end, the Central Business District, Kissy and Waterloo in the east end that are infested with criminals. Daily in these grey areas of the Western Area, there are reports of poor innocent people been robbed in broad daylight, their pockets picked and their wallets and phones snatched from them. Some areas are no-go areas after sunset as thieves take over. The East End owes a lot to the indefatigable, AIG Memuna and her team for taking the fight to criminals and their cohorts in that part of the city.

In Bo and Kenema, the next two big cities in the country, people are afraid to go out at night fearful that on their way back home they could be hit by armed robbers. This has caused bars, restaurants and other entertainment places in these two cities a lot of lost business.

In the capital city, we also have the problem of undisciplined lawless commercial vehicle drivers and motor bike riders which is also a security threat. Some of them are known to connive with night armed robbers to facilitate their movement and to transport their stolen goods. As the nation goes through a tough economic period, criminal elements who do not want to work for their daily bread may want to take advantage of the situation to rob others at will. This could pose grave danger to “JCs” returning home with the Dollars, Pounds and Euros to enjoy themselves.

No state and its people can be secured without the security forces taking their duties seriously.  In spite of criticisms from the public, the police force deserves commendation for having captured many armed robbers and other undesirable elements and kept them behind bars. As we saw during the eleven years civil war, no nation can develop without peace and security as a huge chunk of the national budget that should be used to finance development is diverted to security.

In which regard, the nation must give a big hand to His Excellency, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, for skillfully holding the nation together; thereby avoiding it falling into the kind of tribal and regional conflict that countries like Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria and Burundi have long suffered from. We should as a nation not allow a few criminal elements among us to send out a negative signal to visitors and the international community about the security situation in the country.

The Sierra Leone security apparatus including the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Armed Forces, the police and the Office of National Security deserve a pat on the back for ensuring that lawless elements do not wreck the peace and security that the state and ordinary citizens enjoy. We have seen how quite recently the Minister of Internal Affairs after alarm bells had been rung by a very concerned public came out robustly to put youthful cliques who had become a law unto themselves on the run.

Security, the police keep telling us is everybody’s business. The police cannot be everywhere. Without intelligence from the public and cooperation of community members to report suspicious characters in their neighborhoods, the police will find it hard to track down criminals. The public did a very good job when the police in the fight against the cliques appealed to the public to provide them with information about the identity and whereabouts of clique leaders and members.

Today because of the active cooperation of the public, cliques are a thing of the past. In Bo and Kenema, the police and local authorities have made the same appeal to people to be watchful, form vigilante groups to protect their neighborhoods and to provide police with information that will enable them to catch the criminals.

As a national duty we should also cooperate with the police to report smugglers to the police as smugglers endanger the security of the state and its people by refusing to pay taxes as well as smuggling into the country dangerous and harmful substances that are injurious to the health of the people.