We acted professionally – says chief of Sierra Leone police

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Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 March 2018:

It is now two days since the end of polling in Sierra Leone and the ensuing violent standoff between the police and supporters of the opposition SLPP party at the residence of their leader – Julius Maada Bio, which according to reports could have turned into disaster, had it not been for the timely intervention of the former Ghanaian president Mahama.

Yesterday, the SLPP published a statement blaming and condemning the ruling APC, saying:  “We view this intended action by the All People’s Congress Government as a desperate attempt to create public chaos, undermine the integrity of the elections and disrupt the entire electoral process. Such action constitutes a serious threat to the entire electoral process, public order and national security in the country.

“While the Sierra Leone People’s Party is confident of an outright victory based on provisional results displayed so far, we want to call on our supporters nationwide to stay calm and not to play into the hands of the All Peoples Congress’ diabolical plan.”

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Today, the Inspector General of Police – Richard Moigbe, issued a statement, giving an account of what took place at the residence of Julius Maada Bio on polling day, when the police arrived to search his premises. This is what he said:

“On Wednesday 7th March, 2018, at about 12:30 pm, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) received an intelligence report that some unknown persons at a premises at Marjay Town junction, Goderich, were setting up some Information and Communications Technology (ICT) equipment to be used to hack into the National Electoral Commission’s (NEC) data system. The CID then placed the said premises under surveillance.

“At about 2:00 pm a team of detectives from the CID was dispatched to search the said premises. Two men were found outside, apparently guarding the premises. The CID explained to them the purpose of their visit and showed them a search warrant.

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“They refused the detectives access to the building and pushed them outside the compound. Shortly after, the standard bearer of the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP), Brigadier (Rtd.) Julius Maada Bio emerged from the same building and gave directives that the detectives should not be allowed into the compound.

“The CID officers immediately called for reinforcement. Soon after, a crowd thronged the scene and tried to obstruct the security. This gave cause for a black Jeep to leave the compound without being searched.

“The reinforcement later arrived and a stand-off ensued between them and the crowd of supporters. A few minutes later, the former President of Ghana, Mr John Dramani Mahama, arrived at the scene. He was shown the search warrant.

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“After a brief mediation, the security were ordered to withdraw from the scene in the interest of public order and peace.

“It should be noted, however, that the CID acted professionally in the execution of their duty. It should also be emphasised that in addition to the provision of elections security, the police has the responsibility to detect and prevent crime and apprehend offenders.

“For any democracy to thrive well, the rule of law should be respected. As such, it is important that political leaders cooperate with law enforcement agents in that regard.

“Meanwhile, members of the public are hereby enjoined to remain vigilant and to continue to support the operations of the SLP with cogent information.

“You are assured of our readiness to enforce the law dispassionately without fear or favour.”

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