Militia Groups: A Worrisome Phenomenon
News on the formation of militia groups in the country’s capital Freetown to fend off activities of criminals away from their communities is a worrisome one and deserves thorough consideration of the issue by national security organs like the Sierra Leone Police and the Office of the National Security. In many places in the city vigilante groups have been formed to serve as guards against invading thieves and armed robbers that have been heaving untold problems on the lives of ordinary and peaceful citizens.
Whatever it is, we must not be seen underestimating the influence such development would have on society. It is good that we don’t forget so quickly why the country experienced a prolonging of the past ten year brutal and baseless war; the institution local militia invariably contributed in wrecking the mammoth damages Sierra Leoneans suffered in the war.
For whatever reason that these vigilantes have been formed, their existence is just entirely illegal and intolerable in a civilized society like this. The Sierra Leone police have the constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property in a very professional way. It certainly is not clear as to how this uprising militia could act in a consulate manner that will suit the comfort the peace and comfort of society.
The reality is, even the so-called professionally trained “force for good” – the SLP has many problems of unprofessional conduct towards the lives and well being of the people as evidenced by the many lives that have been lost, and properties destroyed due to the weird attitude of silly police officers. If by evidence the SLP cannot be guaranteed to act professionally in saving lives and property in the country, how can it be guaranteed that vigilante groups opting to take over the security of the people would? What is the guarantee that they will go out of the way in causing more harm than good or how would one know what motive is truly behind the current rise of militia groups in the city as it is with most part of the country?
The central government cannot be left out on this. It is clear that all the excuses given by the young men forming these vigilante groups is that the police are not up to the task of securing their various localities and as such they are taking over their own security. Whilst it true that the police are directly responsible for internal security, it also true that the government is responsible for the wellbeing of its citizens. If for any reason the police is not seen serious or is ill-equipped in the discharge of its duties, then the government must be held responsible for such lethargy or deficiency someone may say.
The formation of any militia group outside the police force and the military in a post war nation is not a good deal in the guaranteeing of the peace and security of the nation or even the state. By the way, forming vigilante groups sends out the ugly message that the people no longer have confidence in the regular police, an ugly recipe for peace and tranquility. As it is right now, suspicions are that it is some elements in the police force and military that carry out those calculated armed robberies that have resulted in this emerging ugly state of affairs.
Most often than not, robbers caught could either be in police gear or military fatigue; having mostly weapons similar to those carried by just the military and police. This does not suggest though that the police and military are the ones behind the upsurge of armed robberies in the city and other parts of the country; but it is suggestive of the fact that this should more so the reason why the two forces must brace up to curb both menaces of armed robbery and the uprising issue of local militia.
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