In line with its mandate as provided in Section 31 of the National Security and Central Intelligence Act, 2023, which inter alia, authorized the Office of National Security (ONS) to regulate private security companies to ensure compliance with national laws and contribute to the security and socio-economic development of Sierra Leone, the National Security Coordinator, on Wednesday 26th April 2023, held fruitful discussions with the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of private security companies in the Conference Room of the ONS.
The NSCOORD commended the CEOs for their invaluable support to the Government by providing jobs for the youth, contributing to local revenue generation and ensuring safety and security in their various areas of operation.
The main thrust of the meeting was threefold: (a) the expected role of private security guards in the forthcoming general elections,(b) payment of licence fees and(c) validation of the Draft Private security company Licensing Regulations.
The NSCOORD, emphatically told the CEOs that it is the collective responsibility of members of the security sector including the private security companies and their guards, to create the enabling environment for peaceful, credible and transparent elections to be held on 24th June 2023. He maintained that private security guards must be apolitical as their main role is to deliver security services by protecting life and property. He expressed profound concern about the involvement of security guards of certain private security companies in the activities of political parties. He clearly stated that it is improper and unprofessional for private security guards to participate in political activities while they are in their uniforms. He, however, maintained that every security guard has the right to free political participation, but not while they are in uniform. He, therefore, admonished the CEOs to ensure that their security guards conduct themselves professionally and within the ambit of the law. He promised to take firm actions against any private security company whose activities affect the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming elections and, by extension, undermine national security.
The NSCOORD further reminded the CEOs of Section 31(8) of the National Security and Central Intelligence Act, 2023 which imposed a fine of NLe 50,000 and/or a jail term of at least 5 years for companies that operate without a licence. He warned the CEOs to renew their licences otherwise he would enforce Section 31(8) on them.
The NSCOORD also informed the CEOs that the Draft Private Security Company Licensing Regulations were ready but would not be implemented until they (CEOs) made their contributions on the document in a Validation Workshop to be organized very soon. He encouraged them to share their emails so that the document would be forwarded to them ahead of the Validation Workshop.
In their response, the CEOs thanked the NSCOORD for recognizing their contributions to the security and socio-economic development of the country. However, the CEOs raised the following concerns: (a) that the Government did not solicit their opinions before increasing the Minimum Wage to NLe 800.00. (b) that clients are resisting to increase the client fees to keep up with the new minimum wage.
In response, the NSCoord reminded them that the Statutory Instrument on the Minimum Wage was placed in Parliament and members of the public were encouraged to raise objections within 21 days. The CEOs had 21 days to object to the Statutory Instrument but they failed to do that. He encouraged them to comply with the new minimum wage.
The CEOs promised to admonish their security guards to act professionally and desist from getting embroiled in political activities that may smear the reputation of their companies and undermine national security.