Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms (SLeNCSA), has on Friday April 12, 2019, handed over newly constructed and rehabilitated armouries to officers of both the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) and the Sierra Leone Police Force (SLP).
The handing over ceremony, which took place at the 11 Infantry Battalion in Kambia town, attracted the participation of the Resident Minister of North-West, Assistant Inspector General of Police North-West, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, and officials of Sierra Leone Commission on Small Arms, among others.
SLeNCSA’s Commissioner, Brig. Gen. (Rtd.) Tamba Allieu said when he took over in October 2018, he visited all the armoury construction and rehabilitation sites in in the northern province.
“From the Commission’s record, this is the first time we are handing over five rehabilitated and two newly constructed armouries to end users in a single ceremony. The handing over of these armouries is a concrete demonstration of the commitment of my Commission in providing the necessary support in building the capacity, efficiency and all time preparedness of our two primary forces,” he said.
He said the provision of robust weapons storage facilities, and the training of the personnel who manage these facilities, is crucial to the success of both our military and the police forces in maintaining the peace and security of the state of Sierra Leone.
“With funds from our development partners especially the German government, SLeNCSA is firmly committed to continue providing the necessary infrastructure and relevant training of personnel to enable these two institutions discharge their core functions in a professional manner,” he noted.
He thanked the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), SLeNCSA’s implementing partner, for its relentless efforts in meeting the needs of the forces through the SLeNCSA.
“To the German Federal Government, which has been providing the funding support for most of MAG’s activities in Sierra Leone, I thank you. There is much to do in meeting the requirement of our military and police forces in terms of weapons and ammunition storage facilities and training of the personnel,” he said.
MAG’s Regional Representative, Nicole Ntagabo said her organisation received funds from the German government in 2018 to support SLeNCSA to construct and rehabilitate armouries for both military and the Police.
She said MAG did field ammunition training, construction of the armouries, explosive storage assessment, and armoury assessment, among others.
She disclosed that MAG constructed and rehabilitated armouries in Masiaka, Lunsar, Port Loko, Samu, Kambia, Kabala, and a Forward Operating Base in Yumkelia, in Samu Chiefdom, Kambia District for both military and police.
German Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Horst Gruner said it is very important to store ammunition.
He remarked that small arms and light weapons are mass destruction of our time, adding that many people lose their lives on daily basis to these kinds of weapons.
He said his government has got a long standing cooperation with MAG, noting that Germany is committed to continuously support Sierra Leone.
“Africa’s security is Europe’s security. The war in Somalia, Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria, and other security threats have adverse effects on both Africa and Europe. We will support regionally driven small arms and light weapons control in the African continent,” he stated.
He recalled that the African Union (AU) had some years ago met and resolved that guns should be silent in Africa by 2020, saying that it is a challenge but will would be achieved and that the German government strongly support such initiative.
He also said the German government would support the fight to reduce illicit trade of arms.
In his keynote address, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Lahai Lawrence Leema said his ministry’s core function is to maintain the internal security of the state of Sierra Leone, adding that the police force is the constitutional instrument that his ministry uses to discharge this core function.
“Our law provides that whenever our police force cannot handle internal security challenge, our military comes in under the Military Aid to Civil Power (MAC-P). I have been informed that MAG project has brought together both the military and police personnel to be trained in the use and management of these facilities and of the weapons and ammunition stored in them,” he said, and noted that he commended such strategy as it does not only maximise training time but promotes the building of mutual understanding, trust, friendship and cooperation between the two sister forces.
He thanked the German Federal Government for providing the funding support for the construction of these armouries and the training of the personnel.
“I also offer my sincere appreciation to MAG for the support to SLeNCSA in activities such as destruction of unserviceable weapons and ammunition, weapons marking and training. Now, you have rehabilitated our armouries that were destroyed during the war and also building new ones,” he said.
He congratulated SLeNCSA’s Commissioner and staff for the untiring efforts in activities such as the acquisition, possession, and use of firearms within the borders of the country in accordance with the Arms and Ammunition Act of 2012.
“The Arms and Ammunition Act of 2012 charges SLeNCSA with the responsibility for the management and security of stockpiles of arms and ammunition with the country’s borders. This means that the physical security, safety, storage, transportation and management of weapons and ammunition in the hands of both our defence and security forces, including those legally and legitimately held by civilians, is the primary responsibility of SLeNCSA,” he noted.