Press Release: Sierra Leone Armed Forces Respond to SLPP’s New People
2nd March 2012 · 0 Comments
OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY CHIEF OF DEFENCE STAFF MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
TOWER HILL FREETOWN
Phone: 00232 76 661424 Reference: D/MOD/8313
Date: March 2012
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) wish to respond to comments posted in the face book social media website by Major Bockarie Banya, and an article published on Friday 24th February 2012 in an Online Newspaper “The New People Newspaper (www.newpeople.com) captioned “Why Lt Col Sheik Salami Sillah is on the run” written by Alpha Lebbie.
The MoD and the RSLAF wish to make it clear that the comments made by Major Bockarie Banya on face book in which he stated that Sierra Leonean peacekeepers are the least paid and least catered for and that they should be paid USD 1000 instead of USD 400 is the personal opinion of that officer. The MoD/RSLAF strongly detests such incendiary comments which are intentionally meant to incite troops.
Major Bockarie Banya was deployed on UN peace keeping mission in Sudan in November 2010. His tour of duty ended in December 2011 and he was expected to return home. Instead, he deserted to Uganda and later tendered his resignation letter stating his intension to engage in partisan politics under the banner of the opposition SLPP as the reason for his resignation. The RSLAF has instituted administrative action against the officer for such an unprofessional conduct.
Clearly, Major Banya is a very unpatriotic officer who is intentionally bent on inciting troops to agitate. The RSLAF will do everything possible to bring this officer to book for his mutinous actions. MoD/RSLAF wishes to reiterate that our peace keepers cannot be paid more than USD 450 until at the appropriate time for the following reasons:
Firstly, most of the Contingent Owned Equipments (COE) used by the Sierra Leone Contingent in theatre are very old equipment which were donated to the RSLAF by donor organizations just to help RSLAF to actualize its peace keeping aspirations. These equipment require routine maintenance to keep them up to UN standards.
Secondly, the RSLAF has to cater for its troops deployed in the Mission area by providing life support logistics such as drugs and medical stores, uniforms etc.
Thirdly, the RSLAF uses funds accrued from peacekeeping operations to provide pre-deployment training for its personnel.
Fourthly, all major procurements for peacekeeping such as purchase of spares and replacement of unserviceable equipment are funded by the peace keeping fund.
Lastly, MoD/ RSLAF aspiration is to increase peace keeping operations to a battalion size of 850 personnel, which will allow more soldiers to participate in peacekeeping. Considerable amount of funds are required to train, arm, and equip these troops and to sustain them in theatre.
Unless substantial savings are made, all of the above cannot be accomplished. In the end, Sierra Leone’s aspirations to participate in peace keeping will be derailed. MoD/RSLAF will therefore review soldiers’ allowances upwards as and when it deems it necessary to do so.
In the New People Newspaper article, the writer made several allegations relating to Lieutenant Colonel Sheku Salami Sillah who was Contingent Commander of the third Sierra Leone contingent in Darfur, Sudan, serving with the hybrid United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The writer alleged that Lt Col Sillah is on the run because he was arrested for making unsavoury statements against the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) Party. The writer also alleged that Lieutenant Colonel Sillah was targeted by the APC government because he is a schoolmate of the SLPP Presidential flag bearer, Brigadier Retired Julius Maada Bio, because he hails from the south and because he is a Mende by tribe.
The MoD and RSLAF wish to make it known that the allegations made in the article by Alpha Lebbie are completely baseless and unfounded. Lieutenant Colonel Sillah was Contingent Commander of the third Sierra Leonean Contingent in Sudan from April to November 2011. Several allegations were levied against him by members of the contingent during their deployment ranging from embezzlement of contingent funds, maladministration to fraternization with a female soldier in his contingent which led to several embarrassing situations in the mission.
At the end of the mission, the RSLAF ordered an investigation into these allegations and therefore placed Lieutenant Colonel Sillah under Mess arrest. The senior officer escaped from detention while the investigation was ongoing and is still on the run.
The Ministry of Defence would like to make it clear that Lieutenant Colonel Sillah’s arrest was purely a military disciplinary procedure and was not politically motivated. The APC government has nothing to do with his arrest as alleged by the author of the article. The RSLAF will continue with administrative actions against Lt Col Sillah and distant itself from allegations made by the writer. The military is apolitical and will not allow itself to be dragged into politics which we perceive to be the sole aim of the writer and the medium.
SAMUEL O WILLIAMS
Acting Chief of Defence Staff
Photo: Brigadier General S.O. Williams.
By Daily Mail