Zachariah Jalloh, StratComm MIC
The Strategic Communications Unit of the Ministry of Information and Communications has visited the township of Kamakwei on a fact-finding mission in relation to the August 10th insurrection that left the Divisional Police station and barracks burnt down by violent protesters.
The visit was to offer the team, comprising of senior officials of the Unit, an opportunity to document the scenes of the destruction and have firsthand evidence of the destruction, identify key stakeholders to query what happened and went wrong, what actions have been taken to bring back peace, cohesion, and trust, and what are the prospects for a sustainable peaceful existence.
Following a conducted tour of the burnt-out Police station and Police barracks, the team spoke to key stakeholders in the community, including the Paramount chief, Police Partnership Board Chairman, the Chairman of the Drivers Union, and the Local Unit Commander (LUC).
The LUC of Kamakwei Division CSP Lansana M. Koroma, who was posted after the previous LUC was transferred, following the August 10 insurrection, told the team that the Police Station is presently housed in an unfinished building, which has been temporarily made available to them by the Chairman of the Drivers’ Union in Kamakwei, Mohamed Lolo Bangura. He narrated how he is currently working towards boosting the moral of his personnel and finding ways to encourage those who had abandoned their posts in fear of their lives and are still afraid to return to base, to have confidence and come back. He also showed the team scattered documents and other destroyed household properties that are now in the vicinity of the temporary Police Station.
“When I arrived here, it looked like a post war-like scene. Many citizens had run away for fear of their lives and there was little trust between the Police and the citizens and vice versa, but as I speak, we have been able to restore peace and calm through a series of community-based dialogue sessions” he said.
Paramount Chief of Sella Limba Chiefdom, Kamakwei, karene District, PC Alimamy Bockarie, described the incident as unfortunate and unacceptable. He stated that he was in Makeni when the riot erupted and he had to return quickly because the situation was out of control.
“When I arrived from Makeni, The Police station was on fire, the remains of two police officers and one civilian were lying where they have been apparently murdered by the irate protesters” he said.
PC Bockarie lamented that the destruction of the Police Station and the Barracks is a big loss for the community, as those structures were built during the regime of the late President Kabba and they will be hard to replace.
Paramount Chief, Alimamy Bockari told the team that, before August 10 they had been talking to their people to refrain from violence and avoid any unlawful protest and according to him, he was shocked about what happened in his Chiefdom. He disclosed that many people have deserted the Chiefdom in fear of arrest and persecution but there are ongoing efforts towards bringing them back. He concluded by saying that as authorities in the Chiefdom, they are behind the government in pursuing the perpetrators.
Similar sentiments were expressed by the Chairman of the Police partnership Board, Rev. Alusine Kargbo, and the Chairman of the Drivers’ Union, Mohamed Lolo Bangura.
In adherence to the message of the President, Leader of the Team from the Strategic Communications Unit, Outreach Coordinator, Peter Beckley, assured all the stakeholders that the government has adopted a dispassionate stance to the investigations by appointing a special investigating Committee, which will not consider tribe or region in digging out the perpetrators and bringing them to book, adding that no stone will be left unturned in the process.