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Interview with I.G. Munu of Sierra Leone

Interview with I.G. Munu of Sierra Leone

Unlike many Sierra Leone public officials who come to the United States whether on official or unofficial business but shy away from the press or even their fellow Diaspora brothers and sisters, the recently appointed Inspector General of police, Mr. Munu (in photo) is an exception.  Upon requesting an interview without making an appointment he courteously agreed without asking for protocol as most of our visiting government officials are known for.  In our discussion he said positive things about his alma mater Kolenten Secondary School and pertinent issues relating the state of security in Sierra Leone. In our telephone interview I asked I.G. Munu:

Joseph Sherman: Mr. IG, welcome to the US and congratulations for your appointment as Inspector General of Police in the Republic of Sierra Leone.  For the benefit of the reading public can you briefly give your profile starting from your humble beginning as a law enforcement officer to this enviable position as the Inspector General of Police of the Republic of Sierra Leone?

Inspector General, Mr. Munu: Thank you very much for your warm welcome and it’s a pleasure to grant you this interview.  As for my profile, I graduated from Fourah Bay College and became a Cadet Assistant Superintendent in 1982-1984.  In 2006, I was promoted to an Assistant Inspector General and worked in the length and breadth of the country including the North and Eastern part of Sierra Leone with enviable track record.  I hold a MBA degree and did of lot of courses in policing and a member of the African Security Network.

As a product of Kolenten Secondary School what can you reminisce at this time regarding the school?

Kolenten Secondary is part of my orientation and training that molded me initially to take up responsibility to be what I am today.  However, it pains me to hear what is happening in the school in terms of academic decline which was what the founding fathers were fighting against.  Nevertheless, all is not lost as similar situations exist in most of the renowned schools in post-war Sierra Leone.  All we need is to rekindle the light in Kolenten and support the school so that students and teachers will once again feel that sense of belonging and responsibility.

Are there regrets or misgivings concerning the discipline and training you received in Kolenten Secondary School?

Absolutely, I have no regrets. As I said earlier, Kolenten played a very important role in my orientation to assume responsibility because of the discipline and training.  Therefore, I am grateful to the school authorities at the time for instilling in me these noble virtues at a very tender age that has played a pivotal role in my success and the success of many students who were privileged to attend the school during those golden years.

Kolenten Secondary School observed its 50th anniversary on January 23, 2011, as an alma mater of the school what do you think should be done to restore academic excellence and integrity of the school compared to what it was when you were a student?

We need a combination of various factors to energize the school administration in order to restore the past glory of the school, we need to go back to the drawing board and address issues that have plagued the school to such a debilitating phenomenon.  Most important of all we need to hold a stakeholders’ conference that will address the pressing issues that have engulfed the school.  If all these issues are taken into consideration, I believe the light of Kolenten will shine again.

The security network of any country is very important.  What challenges are you facing and want the government to improve on or the international community to render assistance?

Sierra Leone has prospect because the country is undergoing transformation.  The establishment of the Office of National Security in 2002 has enhanced so many transformations within the security sector in the country.  The transformation engenders professional training and bringing the police force under democratic control devoid of partisanship.  Consequently, these factors have led to a reduced crime rate, stability and peace.  Furthermore, the cultures of collaboration and teamwork are what we have developed in our workforce so much so that in my absence the fear of a vacuum in our individual responsibility is lacking.  With regard to challenges, we cannot boast of a robust police force as compared to Western countries.  Although we are recruiting personnel in the police force, communication equipments, transportation and other logistics are inadequate to support our operations.  

What about the Operational Security Division (OSD) that provides security protection for high ranking government officials.  Why are they not armed to ensure maximum security for those they are protecting?

The OSD formally called the SSD and SSU has been modernized and plays a professional role in supporting the police unit.  They OSD is divided into several segments such as the Armed Response Unit, trained in weaponry, the PSU in charge of public disorder and uses batons in case of any public disorder, CPU-Clothing Protection Unit who have the responsibility of protecting the president, Static Protection Unit, they are responsible for protecting government officials and personnel, Escort Protection Unit, in charge of escorting goods that are vulnerable to the public and the Training unit responsible for overall training of the police force.  So you can see how we have given responsibility to each unit in the OSD.  The stigma of being a private security force as was rumored in the past is no more in existence.  

I know political propaganda and perceived act of violence are imminent in Sierra Leone come the 2012 elections.  What mechanisms and preparedness have you put in place to curtail violence and insecurity in the country?

Perceptions and realities are different in terms of knowing the truth.  Sierra Leone has changed a lot.  For example, the Bye-Elections in Kono where people felt that free and fair voting was not going to take place because of perceived violence, the police were in full control under the watchful eyes of national and international observers.  They acclaimed the elections as one of the most peaceful.  Likewise the 2012 elections will be peaceful and free of violence.  We are recruiting and training OSD personnel in Samu in readiness for the 2012 elections and I will assure all and sundry that the conduct of elections will be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere free of coercion, intimidation and violence.  

Indeed, Mr. IG you are perceived as an APC appointee because many in the opposition think so.  How can you demonstrate to Sierra Leoneans that you stand for professionalism than biasness in terms of dispensing your duties?

As I said earlier perception and reality are different in terms of saying the truth.  I challenge anybody to bring out evidence of me being partisan in dispensing my duties.  I have worked for two successive governments professionally without bias or favor and served with integrity and diligence that has placed me in a competitive advantage in the discharge of my duties as my professional police officer. Indeed, I came from the north but I cannot compromise my professionalism for partisanship.  My duty as a police officer is to serve and protect my country no to be politically involved.

How is the security situation in Sierra Leone regarding foreign investments and tourism attraction?

The security situation is improving rapidly.  We are fighting few incidents of armed robbery which is under control and recorded crime is minimal.   With the recent jail break, we have apprehended most of the miscreants who are presently in court facing trial.  On the issue of foreign investment, we have few disgruntled fraudsters (419) who are luring foreigners in the country with the pretext that they will sell them gold or diamonds and as a result they end of duping these foreigners.  However, the police are doing all we can to protect visitors from being duped.  As for tourism the police are alert to protect tourists from criminals who might to take advantage of them.  All in all Sierra Leone is a safe haven for investment and tourism.

Mr. IG It’s a pleasure talking to you, Kolenten Secondary School alma mater and the bulk of Sierra Leoneans in the United States congratulate you for this enviable position and wish you the best in dispensing your duties as an IG of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

Thank you, It’s pleasure granting you this interview.

Written by Joseph S. Sherman, Washington, DC

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