Sierra Leone has been rocked by series of vicious armed robberies mostly perpetuated by persons who use motorbikes (Okadas) to speedily escape after macheting their victims with cutlasses. As a result of the outcry, the Police stepped up armed checkpoints in strategic areas and curtailed movements of Okadas after mid-night.
Last Friday June 15th 2012, an Okada rider reportedly refused to stop at an armed police checkpoint at Goderichís Mambo area by 03:00am in morning. He instead forcibly bulldozed his way through the checkpoint. A police officer at the checkpoint, fires at the Okada rider as the rider bulldozed through. The Okada rider dies from the bullet wounds.
Having given the background, let me now start off by extending my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the Okada Rider who was shot dead by an alleged Ďtrigger happyí Police officer. It is a very painful thing to lose a loved one at such a youthful age and I want to offer my sincere sympathies. May the young manís soul rest in peace.
However, my concerns with this incident is firstly, the speed which with the Government is rushing to charge the OSD police officer this Monday morning for Murder; not even Manslaughter but Murder! Secondly, I am concerned to see the Government appealing to Okada riders to not do anything lawless in reaction to the death.
I know it is Elections season where ĎMajority Opinion is Mightier than the Lawí but is there any country in the civilised world where you can refuse to stop but bulldoze through an armed police checkpoint and not expect to be shot at? Secondly, what are we appealing to Okada riders for? Have we, as a Nation, been so whipped into submission, from those we should be deterring, that we now rush to demoralise the Police whilst we are appealing to threat-making lawless youths not to Ďover-reactí at the incident?
Are we sure we know what stage we are setting?
What this means is anyone can now bulldoze past an armed police checkpoint in Sierra Leone; for as long as you are using an Okada to do so, no police officer will try to fire at you to stop you. The armed robbers, who caused us to step up police checkpoints in the first place, will surely take note of this ridiculous weakness on the part of the authorities.
It is a sad development on all fronts. I really feel for the officer who will be charged for Murder today.
EDITORíS NOTE: This article was submitted before yesterdayís incident at Calaber Town where Okada Riders stormed the Calaber Town Police Station and totally vandalised the building and equipment therein.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.