By Umu Thoronka in Makeni
Residents within the Municipality of Makeni have raised serious concern over what they described as the ‘rampant spate’ of armed robbery and thus have called on the relevant security apparatus to brace up and curtail this menace.
Speaking to this press on Monday 3rd August, 2020, Yayah Koroma; a youth leader at Makama said armed robbery and other forms of thievery have become a serious concern in Makeni. This he said has instilled perpetual fear in the minds of residents to the extent that even moving around at night is done at someone else’s risk. He explained that from their observation, most of the people who indulge in these acts are not originally from Makeni but from their places but connive with residents in the city to disturb the peace and safety of the people. He maintained that at the moment, armed robbers will stop at nothing including attacking bike riders and cart away their bikes while attacking homes with acid and other dangerous weapons.
Yayah noted that they have transformed themselves into a sort of vigilante group so that they will complement the effort of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) in warding off armed robbers and thieves not just in the community but the entire region. He explained that over the weekend, they foiled an armed robbery attack at the Back of the Regional Hospital at Makama.
He explained that on Saturday night, there was a very torrential rain in Makeni and knowing fully well that when it rains, thieves and armed robbers will use that opportunity to wreck their havoc on the poor community people. So they alerted themselves via phone calls to intensify their watch especially after midnight.
“One of ours informed us that many strange looking youths were moving towards the back of the regional Hospital on motorcycles. Few minutes after, just as we were galvanizing ourselves to patrol, we heard voices crying for help but by the time we got there, the miscreants had disappeared escaping through the Mena Hills” Yayah narrated
The youth leader called on the Police to intensify their night patrolling especially to communities at the outskirts of Makeni because the armed robbers are now I infesting them.
According to the Head of Media for the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) Northeast; Inspector Abdul Rahman Sankoh, they are aware of the increased in the cases of armed robbery in the region but that, they too have scaled up their operations to nab the said robbers. The media man added that it has become a common phenomenon that during heavy downpours in the night hours, which will be the time thieves and armed robbers will disturb the peace of the people noting that this is also the time they-the police will re-strategize to prevent them from succeeding in their operations.
Inspector Sankoh explained that they presently have in their custody at the Mena Mena Police Division eleven (11) suspects who they are investigating for a number of armed robbery and theft incidences in various communities in Makeni. He disclosed that amongst those arrested are seven Men and four Women and of the three Men arrested one had attempted to escape from Makeni but were intercepted at the Makoth Checkpoint while making their way out. He classed the arrested suspects as hard-core criminals who have been charged for similar offences in the immediate past.
He said that after the police got a tip-off from the well meaningful community members, they initiated what he described as a ‘sting operation’ to specific communities during which they were able to apprehend many alleged armed robbers and properties worth Millions of Leones discovered and retrieved from houses within the municipality.
He maintained that through their effective collaboration with communities, they have earmarked certain places and houses believed to be safe haven for armed robbers. He added that they are presently conducting raids to those communities and at the same time going after certain individuals that are aiding and abetting armed robbery activities in the Makeni community.
According to Inspector Sankoh, between the 18th July to date, he said they have raided communities like New London, Ibrahim Sesay Drive and Manetheh Street where they discovered several assorted items including a locally made pistol, Bike number plates, Freezers, Plasma Televisions, Decoders, PA Systems and foam mattresses among others.
While he accepted that the police are not ubiquitous, he therefore called on the community members through what he referred to community policing to work hand in glove with police so that crime will be reduced in the community and the country as whole. He ended by advising community people to be vigilante especially at night hours and to always call on the police whenever they notice any unusual activities in their communities.