“Is the ONS just for Disaster Management?” A rejoinder.
The attention of the ONS has been drawn to social media post titled LETTER TO THE OFFICE OF NATIONAL SECURITY – IS THE ONS JUST FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT? The social media post is full of misconceptions and lack of sufficient knowledge about the role of the ONS in ensuring a safe and secure environment in Sierra Leone. Let us make the following clarifications:
- The claim that the “ONS is seen only when there is flooding and other environmental issues” is not only misleading but also exposes the writer’s mischievous intent to present the ONS in bad light engendered by the lack of sufficient knowledge of its mandate. In fact, following the enactment of the “National Disaster Management Agency Act, 2020,” the ONS ceased to directly deal with disaster-related issues.
- The ONS is visible and active in all the 16 districts and 5 regions. Through our decentralized security committees at chiefdom, district and provincial levels, the ONS has successfully coordinated efforts to address serious security issues at local and national levels which has contributed to the relative peace and security prevalent in the country.
- It is a fact that some miscreants have found pleasure in publishing classified government documents and information on different social media platforms. We accept that such acts constitute a very serious threat to our security and have the propensity to cause reputational damage to the government. However, the claim that the ONS is not doing anything about it is also very wrong. The ONS has had and continues to have several engagements with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the implementation of protective security measures to protect assets, personnel and information/documents. In fact, the ONS is on the verge of rolling out the “National Protective Security Framework,” approved by government, which serves as a blueprint for protective security in the country.
- However, the writer may wish to note that the heads of MDAs bear the greatest responsibility to protect their personnel, assets and information/documents. It is their responsibility to ensure that all classified information, documents and assets under their purview ARE protected against unauthorized access and dissemination. The fact that sensitive information finds its way into social media may mean that they are negligent in their responsibility. Although the ONS cannot be in every MDA, it will continue to engage MDAs to strengthen their protective security capacity.
- The claim that the ONS is indifferent to the destruction of EDSA transformers and cables by ill-motivated persons, which had impeded the supply of electricity shows the write’s limited knowledge of the support the ONS has given to the Ministry of Energy (MOE). The ONS has provided invaluable support to the MOE to address the twin threats of transformer/cable theft and electricity abstraction by ill-motivated people. We are part of the Joint Field Task Force on Electricity Abstraction, and through our collective efforts, the threat to EDSA assets has reduced drastically.
- The ONS will certainly not let down the people of Sierra Leone. We spend sleepless nights and work under stressful conditions to ensure that the people of Sierra Leone are protected. We will work with other MDAs to stop the unauthorized access and dissemination of classified documents on social media.
26 April, 2022.