PDC Chairman Warns Against Use Of Vigilantes At Border Crossings

By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)
From Pujehun, Southern Province

As Pujehun District continues to record zero infection cases, the district council Chairman Sadiq Sillah has warned against use of vigilante youth to man its porous border with Liberia to forestall new Ebola cases.

“The issue of security of our border with Liberia is an international issue; it’s for our regular security forces, not vigilantes. I strongly condemn any hasty move to use these youth to protect our border,” said Sillah.

The warning of the Pujehun District Council (PDC) Chairman comes in the wake of a proposal by the District Ebola Response Committee (DERC) to train youth to serve as auxiliary security to fortify its border with Liberia as the district gears up to protect its enviable achievement of zero infection status in the fight against Ebola.

The DERC’s proposal argues that the youth will be trained by the security forces (Army and Police) and they will not be deployed in isolation but in the company of the forces.

However, Sillah insists that the history of the country’s decade civil war taught a bitter lesson against the use of vigilante youth in matters of security and that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) strongly condemned their future use.

“When you put matters of national security in the hands of vigilantes you have no one to hold accountable when there’s a breakdown, but the regular forces that are mandated by the constitution to provide security will take responsibility for their actions,” maintains Sillah, who believes majority of the credit for their success in the fight against Ebola is to the robustness of the local security forces of the Army and the Police.

The Southern district, comprising 12 chiefdoms, last week became the first out of 14 districts in Sierra Leone to go past the WHO benchmark of 42 consecutive days without recording any Ebola infection case and its holding and treatment centers are empty except for standby health workers and security officials. There are equally no quarantine cases. The district started recording zero infection and quarantine cases since 26th November 2014. Since its first positive case on 8th August 2014 the district only had 31 confirmed cases, 7 of which did not survive treatment.

However, with the rest of the country still grappling with the outbreak and with reports of a surge in infection cases in neighboring Liberia, there are concerns of security at the border points. Security officials say there are scores of illegal border crossing points along the Mano River boundary with Liberia, especially during this season of the year.

Note: This is a Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) sponsored reporting.

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