Sierra Leone’s former president expresses concern over his safety
By Umaru Fofana
Sierra Leone’s former president, Ernest Bai Koroma has rejected the “abrupt transfer and replacement” of his state security detail. This affects personnel stationed at his residence in Freetown, his home town of Makeni and his wife’s home town in Kono, according to his spokesman.
In a letter to the Inspector General of Police dated 10 May 2019, Koroma’s Special Assistant, Ismail Mahmud Sheriff says the former president also rejects the proposed guards sent to him because he was not consulted about their vetting nor did he know about their professionalism and discipline.
Koroma is quoted as saying that he met with the regional heads of the police and the army on Friday 10 May after the transfer order had been released, something he considers as “suspect, faulty and disrespectful” because those being replaced had served him diligently and without problems.
16 of his 18 guards have also been “summarily disarmed without recourse” to him, and for which he “strongly deplores the incessant hounding of his security detail which he believes has clearly become the pattern since his retirement”.
Koroma says all of this is tantamount to his safety and security being compromised, and a violation of his entitlement as a former head of state. He urges the police boss to revert to his withdrawn contingent “without further delay”.
Under the laws of Sierra Leone a former head of state is entitled to 30 personal guards, three middle level police officers and four watchmen.
Speaking to Politico, the former president’s Special Assistant said the situation had become “fluid” since the letter was sent. Mahmud Sheriff said that the chief security officer assigned to the former head of state had been instructed by his superiors to report on Saturday morning at a police station in Makeni, and that the eight soldiers assigned have also been instructed to report at Murray Town with their arms.
Sheriff said that last year, Akim Turay who was assigned to Koroma as a personal bodyguard, was withdrawn for what was said to be further training, but that neither he nor a replacement was ever sent back.
He said four staffers – a driver and cleaners – were also transferred without replacements and later had their salaries stopped when they did not honour the transfer.
The earlier incidents were discussed with the Secretary to the President and the Inspector General of Police, he said, but without redress.
Several telephone calls and a text message to the police boss, Richard Moigbeh were not responded to.
© 2019 Politico Online