The top bras of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) have denied that the dissatisfaction letter widely circulated last week was written by soldiers.
“We do not believe that the letter emanated from the military. You know that we have a lot of disgruntled individuals… [and] elections are not too far away…I do believe that such information is being passed around to create dissatisfaction with the armed forces”, Deputy Defence Minister, Joe Blell told journalists yesterday at the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Freetown.
He said the source of the letter was now a subject of military investigation, adding that most of what was stated in the letter had “no bearing” on what obtained, emphasizing that “at no time did I travel out of this country to Nigeria and collected $4,000 dollars as per diem” as alleged by the open letter.
He said the only time he led a delegation to Nigeria last year was when he was asked by the President to lead a delegation made up of the Chief of Defence staff, the Acting Chief of Defence Staff Training and Personnel, the then Director of Policy, Mr. Jiba and Lt. Col. Keita. He said the mission was basically to thank the Nigerian government and to also look into other possibilities of training. “I just want to make it very clear that none of us left here with the sum of $4,000 dollars,” he stressed.
He said military personnel have the opportunity to express any grievance they have.
On whether he was worried about threats that disgruntled soldiers would kidnap government ministers, Mr Blell said “I do not need to worry about kidnapping of Ministers, as there is no cause for concern”.
He revealed that the terms and conditions of service for soldiers were currently being reviewed by the Finance Ministry and the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT). The last time that was done in 1965.
Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Sam Mboma also distanced the army from the letter saying, “we are still not convinced that members of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces can write such threatening remarks and have it circulated.”
He denied allegations that soldiers go on course without allowances, throwing a challenge for any such to come forth.
Brigadier Alfred Nelson-Williams, the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff emphasized thus: “We are a disciplined force and not part and parcel of that letter” referring to it as “unfounded, needless and tantamount to tarnishing the good reputation of the military”.