The incident last week between ex-servicemen and the Defence Minister is despicable. We, at Politico, are surprised that it has not been roundly condemned. Pallo Conteh is our Minister. No matter the security breach that led to his beating and being stripped of his jacket in broad-day light the action by these ex-servicemen, however strong the reason for their agitation, must be condemned.
A Government Minister may not be beyond reproach but he/she represents the symbol of the state and must never be subjected to such mistreatment.
We urge even the opposition political parties to come out and denounce this unfortunate incident. Politics is not about supporting gutter behaviour. It is about being civilised and denouncing what does not portend well for the country and its people.
In view of how police officers have been trigger happy with their guns these days, we applaud the restraint exercised by those soldiers who were on the scene of the attack on the minister. But we think they should have done more to save him from that embarrassment, even without firing their guns.
We also wish to call on the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces and by extension the Government of Sierra Leone to intervene and settle this matter of these over 300 ex-servicemen who have been classified as “chronically ill and mentally imbalance”. This is a terminology that sentences them to unemployment for life. It is not a discharge card that any ex-serviceman would like to show off. And they have their families to look after too. After all they got to this state in the fight for the motherland. There can be no bigger or better sacrifice. If politicians who steal a lot of our resources end up being put on huge pensions, why not soldiers who volunteered to lay down their lives so we can continue breathing today?
While we say OSH to the minister and condemn his humiliation, we invariably call on the ex-servicemen to be settled favourably.