The Chief of Defence Staff of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) says “more arrests” have been made over the alleged planned munity by soldiers at Tekko Barracks in Makeni.
Speaking to Politico, Major General Samuel Omar Williams declined to give exact numbers of those arrested. He said “further arrests could be required based on the course of ongoing investigations and will therefore not be proper to disclose figures at this time”.
He also declined to give the ranks of the soldiers being investigated. But sources in Makeni say they are non-commissioned officers.
Major General Williams had earlier told Politico that plans by some soldiers stationed at the northern garrison to go on a mutiny had been botched and a group of the alleged mutineers arrested. He would not say what the nature of the alleged mutiny was.
Other military sources say at least 15 soldiers are being detained at the military guard room at the Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown having been brought in from Makeni. The sources allege that they had planned to take hostage some of their senior commanders in the barracks over certain grievances yet to be established.
A United Nations source says one of their grievances could be linked to the recent dismissals of some soldiers and officers from the army. The source says the soldiers are alleged to have been planning to carry out a “coordinated attempt” to register their disgruntlement over a wide range of issues including alleged marginalisation of their ethnic group within the army.
Military headquarters has meanwhile issued a memo, according to senior military officers, stopping with immediate effect all movements of military personnel throughout the country. All those who should have proceeded on annual leave have been told to put that off until further notice. Family visits have also been stopped for the time being.
The Director of Communication at the Office of the President, Unisa Sesay confirmed to Politico that President Ernest Bai Koroma was supposed to have travelled to Makeni last weekend but the trip was “suddenly called off”. Even though he would not confirm or deny whether the cancellation was related to the alleged botched munity, speculation is rife that it was.
In Sierra Leonean mutiny is treasonable and carries a penalty ranging from dismissal, long term imprisonment, to a death sentence.