By Chernoh Alpha M. Bah, Matthew Anderson, and Mark Feldman
Leaked documents and correspondence from the Office of the President of Sierra Leone reviewed by Africanist Press show detailed evidence of proposed changes in the composition of the Joint Presidential Guard Force (JPGF). The proposed changes include the creation of a new Special Security Unit within the JPGF tasked with closely protecting the President.
The letters and documents resulted from meetings held between 21st April 2022 and 28th April 2022 at State House to discuss “the implication of publications of comparative salaries and allowances of military officers and other public sector workers in Sierra Leone by Africanist Press.”
One of the letters (JPGF/7000/1) dated 29th April 2022 and signed by Captain JA Momoh of the Joint Presidential Guard Force references an earlier State House Security Memo of 25th April 2022 that details the decision to muster the specialized unit of 30 soldiers, including NCOs, to serve in the proposed Close Protection Unit (CPU) of the President. The soldiers, 20 of whom were drawn from the 4th and 11th Army Battalions, included 5 Corporals, 8 Lance Corporals, and 17 Privates.
The identified soldiers were mustered on Wednesday 4th May 2022 at the Freetown Gulf Club for Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) and drills ahead of their deployment early next week as the new Close Protection Unit of the President.
These recent changes in the President’s security detail followed Africanist Press publications of Sierra Leonean government payroll data that shows large salary disparities between leading members of the administration as compared to teachers and soldiers. Payroll records published by Africanist Press show that the lowest paid finance official on a sample list of 30 randomly selected officials from Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Finance are each earning 10 times the monthly salaries of Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels, and 40 times more the monthly salaries of NCOs.
The released payroll data also showed that the combined monthly salaries of the 30 listed finance officials — amounting to Le1,918,279,254.00 (about US$200,000) each month — could pay the total monthly salaries of at least 1,747 soldiers, including junior officers and NCOs.
When campaigning for the presidency in 2018, Julius Maada Bio promised to address salary disparities in the public service. “If we are to restore credibility to the service, we must coordinate the wage bill. If we are to enhance staff moral and improve on service delivery, we must control the wage bill. Wages and Salaries must be harmonized based on fairness and equity in the use of public resources. A commissioner or a director or director general must have an aligned appropriate grading within the civil service comparable to other public sector workers,” Maada Bio stated in his campaign manifesto in 2018.
Four years in office, the Bio administration has reneged on its promise to establish a Wages and Compensation Commission to address the existing wage disparities among public sector workers in Sierra Leone.
The leaked correspondence clearly shows that the decision to re-organize the JPGF and the proposal to create a Close Protection Unit for the President were triggered by fears of a potential army mutiny due to poor salaries and deplorable conditions of service. The leaked documents also show that officials in the President’s Office and security sector leaders agreed on steps to stop Africanist Press from publishing investigative reports on grand corruption and financial crimes in Sierra Leone.
We provide below details of the soldiers that were mustered at the Golf Club on Wednesday 4th May 2022 to serve in the proposed Close Protection Unit of the President:
- RSLAF18181988 Cpl. Konneh
- RSLAF18172145 Cpl. Lansana F
- RSLAF18173997 Cpl. Kpaka
- RSLAF18179481 Cpl. Pessima
- RSLAF18176351 Cpl. Amara
- RSLAF18180561 L/Cpl. Jalloh
- RSLAF18180370 L/Cpl. Rogers
- RSLAF18180315 L/Cpl. Massaquoi
- RSLAF18172269 L/Cpl. Vandi
- RSLAF18178765 L/Cpl. Kamanda
- RSLAF18181029 L/Cpl. Sesay
- RSLAF181826266 L/Cpl. Balfore E
- RSLAF18182100 L/Cpl. Mustapha
- RSLAF18183031 Sowa
- RSLAF18183619 Lansana
- RSLAF18183669 Sandy
- RSLAF18183829 Amara
- RSLAF18183903 Mansaray
- RSLAF18183534 Sabonda
- RSLAF18182852 Saidu
- RSLAF18183987 Jalloh AB
- RSLAF18183015 Stevens
- RSLAF18184053 Takoyo
- RSLAF18183313 Williams B
- RSLAF18183618 Massaquoi
- RSLAF18183137 Amara BS
- RSLAF18183712 Karimu
- RSLAF18183581 Morlu D
- RSLAF18183757 Bockarie J
- RSLAF18183658 Kengo