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THAT PRESS RELEASE: MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS, POLICE AND THE MEDIA By Michael Massaquoi

The Ministry of Internal Affairs or Home Office as in the case of the United Kingdom is unique in the sense that its core responsibility among others in to maintain state security in every aspect. The burden of responsibility on the shoulders of Hon. Edward Amin Soluku, and his deputy or any minister of that department cannot be under-estimated. Often, we have seen the ministry embroiled in controversy over issues that are primarily as a result of the actions of the Sierra Leone Police Force. We have on other occasion seen the head of the police force been widely condemned for certain actions that may have been warranted inadvertently as a result of lack of proper policy direction.

The people of this country have witnessed several occasions where the actions of former heads of police are heavily scrutinized purely because such actions are deemed not in the interest of the country but a ploy, as many would argue to consolidate their position. For those of us who can remember the hay days of the late BambayKamara (of blessed memory) and the Israeli diamond magnate Skipa during the period of another Executive Orders under Late Momoh; the restriction of movement put in place by former IG Munu during the Ebola outbreak, and now the reaction of IG Moigbe over Kamarainba’s recent radio comment are all indicators that the job of our police force is not that simple.

How the actions of heads of our police force directly or indirectly impact on the work of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs or the Hon. Minister, to be specific; the President and by extension the general public is a question that has been long debated. This is more so when the media, civil society organizations and other pressure groups are caught up in the middle- it then becomes a national issue resulting in intense debate for which the police force is often nearly vilified. The event that led to IG Moigbe being put on the spotlight after issuinga press release, and the statement of the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, together with subsequent intervention by the media and the Bar Association, in my view, is all geared towards maintaining our hard-earned peace. IG Moigbe’s reliance on the 1965 Public Act like all former Inspector-Generals of police is a powerful tool to curb or mitigate any dissenting action, although it must be utilized with utmost professionalism. The people of Sierra Leone continue to enjoy our democratic credentials following a long protracted civil war, and given the fragility of our hard-earned peace that was recently put to test during the last elections, it requires one be it the police, media or civil society groups to thread cautiously in exercising those provisions accorded them.

No one is taller than the law, not even the police as they are considered custodians of the law and servants of the country. We all know how difficult their work can be, but again those responsibilities come with a reward, and if not managed with the utmost responsibility the gains can easily diminish. The widespread condemnation from the Bar Association and the media following the action of Dr Moigbe after issuing a press release with the conclusion ‘’ YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED’’ is something that needs a thorough review. To many the concluding part of the release sounds confrontational especially when the reaction of the police did not provide grounds for reasonable justification. Many people considered the release as an attempt to attack Freedom of expression, and no wonder the release attracted the media and the Bar Association. This country has come a long way to get to where we are today, and any attempt to undermine the gains made in pursuing a lasting peace would be challenged. The Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Edward Amin Soluku, a no-nonsense gentleman under whose purview the police operatives are firmly placed. I guess he could not have expressed dismay better over what I will best describe as error of judgment on the part of his personnel bearing in mind the incessant condemnation from both the media and the Bar Association.

In most cases, some of our actions as human beings are warranted by overzealousness in our efforts perhaps to either please our bosses or to project ourselves as the top guys. And while we often tend to discharge our duties diligently, we normally go beyond our limits to make a case. This s not to say the police boss action was intended to please his superiors as I strongly believe Dr Moigbe is an outstanding police whose impeccable credentials don’t need any perk to stay in his current position. The country is in a transition mood, and we must work together to realize the gains President Bio and his team have set as a vision under the New Direction. It is best we keep our eyes on the ball at least for now!

 

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