From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

State House Press Secretary Attacks Sierra Leone Police for doing their Duty
Feb 3, 2009, 17:20

Sheka Tarawalie
Room 618, Hilton Hotel
Addis Ababa,

Brima Acha Kamara
Inspector General of Police
Sierra Leone Police Headquarters
George Street
Freetown, Sierra Leone.

February 2nd 2008

It’s unfortunate, somehow, that I am writing this letter to you while away with President Koroma at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa. Notwithstanding, I just have to write it because of the callousness you have displayed in ordering members of the Sierra Leone Police force to invade my compound, bring down parts of my fence, and destabilize my family in my absence, for which I am seeking an apology and reparations.

I have been informed that armed police men, acting on your orders, on Friday 30th January 2009 entered my official residence at Villa 33, OAU Village, Hill Station, without informing or seeking permission from occupants, and brought down parts of my fence, which I erected with formal authorisation from the Sierra Leone Housing Corporation (SALHOC), who are in principle my landlords. This development has not only affected my functions and functionality as Press Secretary to the President, but also as a husband, because my wife, who is not a native Sierra Leonean national, has had cause to leave home and seek refuge elsewhere due to the lack of professionalism displayed by your force.

I have been informed that, when you were contacted, you justified your action by referring to a letter written to me by SALHOC on 27th January 2009 (responding to a letter written to them by some Hill Station residents on 21st January 2009), copied to you and other institutional heads, regarding a controversial access road going through my compound. I have to categorically tell you that the letter in question never gave you the mandate to do what you did in my absence. The General Manager of SALHOC had asked me, not the police, to open the said road. And I replied on 28th January 2009, copying you and other institutional heads, stating reasons why it would be counter-productive for me to take such an action.

Both the Chairman of the Board and the General Manager of SALHOC thereafter engaged me in some consultations on the way forward. It emerged that I was to travel with the President to Ethiopia, and we therefore agreed that no action would be taken with regards the issue until my return. I also spoke to the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Crime Support, Francis Munu (who, together with other senior police officers, visited my premises on 27th January 2009 with my permission and ascertained that there was actually another road), and we agreed that any action would have to be suspended until my return. Furthermore, I had discussions with the Minister of Lands, Benji Davies, who agreed and even went on radio to state that the fence was legal and must be maintained while police investigations continued.

After the cowardly action of the Sierra Leone Police at my residence on 30th January, I have spoken to all the senior officials of SALHOC, including Board Chairman Ibrahim ‘Orsoya’ Kamara and General Manager Kemoh Tarawalie, and they have all vehemently denied giving you authority for, or having knowledge of, the intrusion and demolition. For you to have therefore ordered the invasion of my premises, disturbing the peace, and demolishing parts of my fence without consultation or permission from SALHOC, or even without contacting me, is not only a display of un-professionalism, but an apparent effort to present me as the offending party. You therefore owe me an apology and reparations, and you simultaneously owe the public an explanation for this obnoxious act.

You should know too well the background of these developments, and you should have known better about how to resolve the situation. As Inspector General of Police, if you were neutral and had wished to maintain law and order, you should have given priority to speedily trying the two suspects handed over to the Congo Cross Police Station for malicious damage and bodily harm at my property and one of my domestic staff respectively on 20th January 2009 when riotous youth, apparently acting under the influence of drugs and alcohol, allegedly incited and led by Elizabeth Lavalie MP, attacked my residence while I was upcountry with the President. I think you should have also given priority to the complaint I filed to you about the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Eastern Province, Al-Shek Kamara, for insulting me and making derogatory remarks about the President and the Office of the Press Secretary to the President on 21st January 2009.

Rather, you have chosen to act on a letter not directly written to you, and in total disregard of my very valid reply (which I am making available to the press for the first time as attached), for reasons best known to you. I have learnt that your police officers at Congo Cross have released the suspects without charge, and you have not suspended Al-Shek while being investigated for what is clearly insubordination; but you have invaded my premises in my absence to please the other side (for the sake of political correctness) and opened a so-called access road even though there are tensions attached and even though you know that this road is illegal, and even though you know that there is another road that was being used by residents since 20th January 2009. Latest reports state that this action has torpedoed the serenity that my compound has been enjoying since 21st January; and that for the past three nights, unruly youths have been passing through this access road shouting and insulting me and the APC government, while the window-dressing security you left there looked on passively.

I must confess that your rash action has caused incalculable damage to me, and that I am not only seeking an apology and compensation for this, but an overhaul of the status quo so that our country can move forward. Clearly, there are many areas that need the speedy intervention of the Sierra Leone Police; but definitely not to intervene to legalize what is clearly illegal. Why have the police been participating in demolishing houses that have been described as illegal even though some of these houses were clearly built many years ago? Does the use of a road for a long time make it legal? You are clearly setting a bad precedent through this unwholesome act.

I am using the media to get this letter to you as a matter of urgency, but I will hand it over to you on my return to Freetown.

I would therefore await your response to this issue before I take the next step.

Yours faithfully,

Sheka Tarawalie

The Minister of Internal Affairs
The Minister of Lands
The Attorney General & Minister of Justice
The Minister of Presidential & Public Affairs
The General Manager, SALHOC
The President, Sierra Leone Association of Journalists
The Press

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.