The Parliament of Sierra Leone yesterday unanimously approved the appointment of Ambrose Michael Sovula as the new Inspector General (IG) of the country’s police force, following the retirement of Richard Moigbe.
The new IG who takes up office with immediate effect, will soon be battle tested – if and when the coronavirus infiltrates the borders of Sierra Leone, causing mass panic and public disorder.
In the coming weeks and months, he will be expected to discharge his duties dispassionately, without political favours to his paymasters, as he and his what many describe as – ‘poorly trained and unprofessional police force’, patrol the streets and neighbourhoods of towns and cities to enforce possible lockdowns and social isolation.
Sierra Leone’s police force has for far too long been accused of brutality and gross abuse of civil liberty and human rights with impunity. Yet successive governments have failed to take action to change public perception – from a “force for bad” to a “force for good”.
Addressing the new IG in parliament, the NGC leader – Dr Kandeh Yumkella MP called on him to change the police force. Yumkella said: “You have inherited a bad institution”.
Kandeh Yumkella admonished the new IG to avoid issues relating to politics and to focus on the transformation of the police. He spoke about the efforts of the late president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in rebuilding Sierra Leone’s public institutions, including the police force to promote good governance in the country.
After MPs approval, the Speaker of Parliament – Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu called on all the appointees to use their knowledge and experience to do well in their new appointments. He said that they are all qualified for the positions they have been nominated to by President Bio.
The speaker called on the newly approved Police boss to change public perception and mindset about the police force.
The Deputy Leader of Government Business, Mathew S. Nyuma MP, applauded the President for appointing what he referred to as “fine Sierra Leoneans” to high positions of trust.
He referred to the newly appointed IG Sovula as “a sincere, dedicated and hardworking police officer who has served Sierra Leone to the best of his ability”.
He also called on the new IG to change the narrative and perception of the public, regarding the behaviour of the police.
Abdul Kargbo MP for the APC, praised the nominees and said he has no doubt in his mind that they are all going to perform beyond expectations.
He called for total independence and impartial conduct of the police force. But he also spoke about how he was recently manhandled by the police. He pleaded with the police force to be fair in carrying out their duties and responsibilities.
Ibrahim Tawa Conteh of the ruling SLPP, recalled how he was beaten by police officers serving under the former APC government. But he commended the appointment of the new IG of police and wish him well in his duties. He said that Sovula is the best person appointed to serve in that capacity based on his experience and wealth of knowledge.
Rounding up the debate, the Leader of the Opposition – Chernor Bah MP, commended the Speaker of Parliament for his patience towards upholding the dignity of the House. He applauded the EPA appointee and encouraged him to work with the team of EPA officers in improving the environment for the good of the country.
Chernor Bah also endorsed all of the appointees and said they are fit and qualified to serve in high offices of State. Speaking about police brutality, he recalled the 2018 incident where APC MPs were removed from the Well of Parliament. “We will forgive but we will never forget,” he said.
The Leader of Government Business, Sidie M. Tunis MP, applauded the appointees. He said that issues around drug laws and enforcement should be taken very seriously in the interest of the nation. He called on the newly appointed police chief to depoliticize the police force, and encouraged him to work diligently so as to effectively deliver on his mandate.
Other presidential nominees approved by parliament yesterday were: Dr. Bondi Gevao as the Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Dr. Abdul Jalloh, Member, National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency; Mr. Zainu Deen Karim, Member, Board of Directors Sierra Leone Local Agency; and Lt. Col. (Rtd) Samuel Erasmus Tucker as Member of the Board of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency.