The Sierra Leone Police (SLP) has issued a stern warning to ex-combatants and other retired military and police personnel who are being used by political groups to conduct foot or mobile patrols.
The SLP notes that following the announcement of the official election results and the declaration of a presidential run-off scheduled for September 8, certain persons or groups of people have engaged in some unlawful actions.
“Youths forming themselves into vigilante groups to operate illegal checkpoints, the use of unnumbered and unidentified vehicles driven at breakneck speed both day and night; the carrying of offensive weapons like knives, machetes, cutlasses, scissors, sticks, broken bottles, acids and the intimidation of peaceful citizens should stop,” the SLP warns, adding that “this actions amount to a violation of the rights and liberties of peaceful citizens and have the potential to cause breaches of the public peace, which if not checked, will escalate into major disturbances”.
The SLP echoes that it wishes to reiterate that while people are free to conduct their political campaigns they should do so in conditions stipulated by the law.
“They should also remember that those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities resulting from the above actions will not escape justice, no matter how long it takes,” it states adding further that political parties and their functionaries should be aware that their credibility in the eyes of the electorates will be judged not by the level of violence they are able to unleash against innocent citizens but by the maturity, understanding and tolerance they can demonstrate even when provoked.
The police urges those persons, who allow themselves to be used by others, to remember that when they go to prisons their inciters will not go with them.