Inspector General of Police Assures Citizens of Peaceful Elections
Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), William Fayia Sellu, has assured the public that the ‘force for good’ under the umbrella of the Office of National Security (ONS) is on top of the security situation in the country ahead of the June 24th national elections.
The IG’s assurance follows the shooting of police officer ASP Mathew Moiwah Gbanya on Saturday night, 8th April 2023 in the Northern Headquarter town of Makeni with a bullet to his neck allegedly from close range by an unknown assailant.
Civil society organizations, including the umbrella body for the media in the country- the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), have condemned the targeted killing of the police commander, while SLAJ expressed concern about the general safety and security of everyone as the country heads into its 5th democratic elections in June 2023 since the civil war ended in 2002.
“This is a very worrisome situation developing in our country. If police officers become targets then nobody is safe in this country. I am also concerned about the safety and security of journalists covering the elections. We all need a safe and conducive environment to participate freely in the elections,” the SLAJ President, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, was quoted in the Association’s press release.
However, IG Sellu said while the police welcome the public condemnation of the shooting of the police officer and would acknowledge that a threat to security in one region is a threat to the security of other regions of the country, 'Sierra Leone is generally peaceful and safe as people are going about their normal business'.
“There is no cause for alarm. We have launched a full-scale investigation into the incident and we will soon apprehend the culprits to face the law,” said IG Sellu. “We are working in close collaboration with other security apparatus under the ONS, and we are up to the task of providing security for the people of this country before, during, and after the elections, and always. There is no need to panic,” assured IG Sellu.
In their press release a day after the incident, the SLP called on the public to ‘remain calm and go about their lawful business’. Local media reports from Makeni say 31 persons, which include 28 males and 3 females, have been arrested and are helping the police in their investigation.
Meanwhile, IG Sellu said the SLP will continue to engage all political parties and Elections Management Bodies in maintaining and preserving the peace of the country. He urged political parties to request police for assistance whenever they have meetings and other functions that should be policed, rather than depend on private security.
“As a police force, we are charged with the responsibility to safeguard everyone, irrespective of your political affiliation, and we are determined to maintain that,” he said.
The IG commended all Local Unit Commanders across the country for their leadership, vigilance, and commitment to the duty of providing security for the people and the state and admonished all citizens not to be drawn into any action that will threaten the peace and security of the country.
“Whilst we all have rights, we should also know that with each right comes responsibility. Let us please remain law-abiding and peaceful in our day-to-day activities, as well as in our political activities,” appealed IG Sellu.