By Mohamed Sahr
President Julius Maada Bio in his second address to the nation after Sunday’s violence reassured Sierra Leoneans and non-citizens resident in the country that the security situation was under control.
The statement delivered in the evening was his first in an audiovisual form after the violence that led to several fatalities.
In the statement broadcast live on the public broadcaster, SLBC, Bio accused those behind the attack of seeking to undermine the country’s democracy, and he vowed that all those responsible would face the law.
The president also urged Sierra Leoneans, singling out political leaders and civil society, to work in unity as one nation and one people.
“In times like this, we are reminded of the importance of national unity,” he said.
Sunday’s incident, which started with the attack on the strategically located Wilberforce Military Barracks, led to street battles between security forces and the alleged unidentified attackers. Images shared on social media show several dead bodies of people believed to have died from the attack.
The government has not issued any data about fatalities yet or the identities of the victims.
The Information Ministry also on Sunday evening issued a second statement detailing the state of the security situation in the country. In the statement signed by Information Minister Cherno Bah, it revised the indefinite nationwide curfew imposed earlier in the day. Curfew will now take effect from 9pm to 6am daily, starting Monday 27 November, it says. It adds that the security forces were still “swiftly” dealing with the situation.
But President Bio in his address sounded even more compelling in his assurance of the state of the country’s security.
“The attackers have been repelled by a combined team of gallant security forces and calm has been restored,” he said, adding: “Most of the leaders have been arrested. Security operations and investigations are ongoing.”
President Bio also said that his government would ensure that those responsible were held accountable through due process.
Meanwhile, former President Ernest Bai Koroma has expressed concern over the killing of one of his close protection agents and the alleged arrest of another one during the violence on Sunday.
In a statement issued from his office, Ernest condemned the attack on state institutions, but he also called for calm and for all stakeholders to ensure they prioritize the wellbeing and stability of the nation.
According to the former president, his former protection officer, Corporal Eddie Conteh, was shot right outside his residence in Freetown, while the other, Warrant Officer John Swaray, was whisked away to an unknown destination. Both men were assigned to him by the state, he said.
He called for the release of Swaray.
“Any action, events and pronouncements that threaten to undermine the political and social stability of the state should have no place in a democracy,” he said.