Military may head Correctional Service
By all indications, the Correctional Service is poised to be headed by a military strongman. Already, operations and management of the facility are now in the hands of military personnel deployed to the correctional Headquarters at New England Ville and main Correctional Center on Pademba Road, headed by Lt Colonel Njaujah.
It could be recalled that the military played a pivotal role in quelling riots which could have led to jail break and escape of inmates in 2019. After the successful operation, the men stayed on in anticipation of strengthening security.
Lieutenant Colonel Ngaujah, head of the military personnel deployed at New England Ville, “gives directives to the Director General who in turn refers serious matters to him”, said a Chief Officer in the Correctional Service.
“When the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) conducted a verification exercise of public servants, the names of some correctional officers were deleted from the payroll because of mismatch of their names. It was the colonel who recommended the reinstatement of their names on the payroll to the Director General, Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) and the Accountant General” the Chief Officer disclosed.
Although there is a manager for the central correctional center and an officer in charge of the yard (OC Yard), a Major in the military, supervises operations at the facility.
In the absence of the Director General Joseph Lamboi, the Lt. Colonel exercises full authority over the service. Joe Lamboi is undergoing treatment in England as a result of injuries incurred during a road accident in Freetown. Due to retire next month, the issue of replacing him has put the government in deep dilemma. There are only two directors, Alpha Turay who is acting as Deputy Director General and Nurse Kio, a law student at Fourah Bay College. There seems to be no indication that the two would be elevated to Director General (DG) and Deputy Director General respectively when Mr Lamboi finally retires. There are also no assistant directors.
Meanwhile, many Chief Superintendents are clamouring for the post of deputy DG on hearing of Mr Lamboi’s due retirement.
“It will be impossible for any of them, whether they have political influence or not, to succeed as they first have to be Assistant Directors and Directors”, an officer commented.
Lt. Colonel Ngaujah and his team are currently conducting a seminar for correctional officers from across the country. Participants are mainly Regional Commanders, Officers in Charge, Finance Officers and Human Resource Officers. The Seminar was officially opened by the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Lahai Laurence Leema, and it would last for two weeks. Although according to one participant Superintendent Williams, “we have learnt a lot of things which we did not know before”, younger officers argued that many of the beneficiaries of the training will have little to do with it as they are on their way to retirement.
Others have seen the seminar which has the full support of the Government as a way of the military to tighten their grip on authority of the correctional service.
If Turay and Koi are sidestepped in favor of the Lt Colonel, their ambitions in the service would not be accomplished, “but it would not be the first time for an outsider to head the correctional service” stated a retired Assistant Superintendent of prison, Bockarie Kamara.
Kamara recalled that in the 1960s, government had cause to bring a superintendent of police, Solomon Gbessay Sesay, to become head of the then prison service in 1967.
However, many officers believe that if Ngauga is appointed Director General, he would be on secondment to improve on the capability of the correctional officers.
“He may serve for about eighteen months after which Turay and Koi would take over as Director General and Deputy Director General respectively” an officer opined.
By Amadi Abadi
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