President of Sierra Leone: Ask IG Moigbe to stop bullying citizens or resign his position
The current Sierra Leone Inspector General of Police Dr. Richard Moigbe used his position and power to request that I am locked up without bail based on an allegation that I committed a traffic violation. The traffic violation was thus; I drove on George Street in Freetown from Siaka Steven Street because I did not see an road sign stating George Street was a one way street and did not see any police officers at the Siaka Steven Street end stoping me from using the road either. So I used it and unfortunately for me, the Inspector General was using the same street from the other end and we met on LightFoot Boston Street. I pulled over to wait for his vehicle to come in so I can get out, without knowing he was the Inspector General. He came out of his car, verbally abused me, stating that we come from the Diaspora where laws are respected, but in Sierra Leone we don’t respect the law, and he asked his police officers to impound my car, take me to Central police, charge me to appear in court on the following Monday, and lock me up at Central to spend the weekend without bail.
All of this happened while am sitting in my car watching him show his powers and not allowing me to say a word.
All of this happened while I was in Freetown from the United States working pro-bono as a way to give back to my country of origin with a team of volunteers to setup https://electiondata.io/ and https://app.elections.sl to collect, aggregate, share and visualize election data and also working with the a group of women who were preparing to monitor the elections.
Thanks to some friends, who I cannot list here, who did their best in fighting for my rights as a citizen and worked with the police and IG to eventually release me on bail from Central and helped me through the court cases. They had to used their connections and pleaded with the IG on my behalf to give me back my rights as a citizen and that I am allowed bail and that a traffic offense is not a criminal offense and etc.
I was told by friends that this was not the first time for the IG to act like this in public. If you have similar story, sign the petition and speak up. This is not the New Direction people voted for in March 2018.
####What was wrong?######
- There was no road sign stating the street is a one way street and hence no actual traffic offense was committed. But he used his power as IG to assume that was the case. He should have known that a road sign is the language used on the road and that every person driving in Freetown is not always based in Freetown to know everything that is happening.
- Even if it was an actual traffic offense, what he did was wrong. A traffic offense is not a criminal offense. Yes I am based in the United States but because I have a business in Sierra Leone, travel to Sierra Leone at least once every year and give back to my country in my own way, paying taxes in Sierra Leone to support his job, he should have known better that I am not a flight risk who will run away from appearing in court due to a traffic offense.
- Even if I actually committed the traffic offense, he had no right as the IG to verbally abuse my person in front of his police officers, and abuse his police officers in front of the general public, while forcing them to do what is wrong. A leader that uses abusive language in public is not a good one. Especially one that does the same to the people he is leading.
- Because he is the IG, he made the arrest, he threatened the police officers to do exactly as he says without question, the officers feared for their jobs and had to follow his instructions to do the wrong thing. Bad leadership. Lead my example and let the police officers do their jobs following the law
- He did not give me the opportunity to say a word or understand why I used the road and did not know why I was in Freetown. He saw a custom vehicle registration number and automatically assumed I was from the Diaspora and not obeying the laws in Sierra Leone. This is bad leadership.
According to advocaidsl.org, “Sierra Leone has a two-tired bail system where bail can be granted at the police station and court. When suspects who were released on police bail appear at court, the police bail is automatically revoked, but court bail is not automatically granted. This becomes a problem when a court does not sit or does not get to the cases of such detainees in the course of the day and contributes to the problem of pre-trial detention. It also opens accused persons to corruption at both the police station and the court. At the police station, police officers can grant police bail – this is where a suspect is allowed to be free from detention but some conditions are applied, for example report to the police station on a regular basis, do not interfere with witnesses etc. Bail can also be granted at the Magistrate or High Court.”
######Call to action.###########
If you are a Sierra Leonean or visiting Sierra Leone and have been in a similar situation where someone in power like the IG used his powers to the wrong thing and set the wrong example for the police force, speak up so the President, Parliament and Independent Police Board can take action to review the actions of the IG and his police and if necessary ask him to resign his position. Sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/president-of-sierra-leone-president-of-sierra-leone-ask-ig-moigbe-to-stop-bullying-citizens-or-resign-his-position
by Tamba Lamin
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