When people in many parts of Africa wake up early in the morning to jog or go for an afternoon run they do so without the need of any one’s authority, but in Sierra Leone you now need authorisation from the police.
In a public notice signed by the Police Chief, Francis Alieu Munu, the statement read: “Police headquarters has observed with a hint of dismay that people are in the habit of jogging in large numbers along the streets with a hint of menace, raining insults, obstructing traffic, pounding on vehicles, playing loud music, and snatching property from other members of the public peacefully going about their own personal affairs. The police is therefore putting an immediate ban on such activities in line with the constitutional consideration for public order and safety.”
— Sabrina Mahtani (@Sabrina_Mahtani) July 27, 2017
However, this notice has been seen by activists as basic restriction of movement in light of the elections that will take place in March 2018. Some have pointed out the fact that there are more serious security issues for the police to focus on.
The police chief in the statement further said, “Individuals desiring to jog for health reasons are at liberty to do so, but at recreational fields or at the beach.”
Mustapha Wai of Mamba TV, in response to the announcement by the police chief wrote on Facebook that, “the I.G.has no such powers under any laws in Sierra Leone.”
The announcement has been subject to backlash from all over. The recreational facilities the police advised the public to use are few or not in order. Freedom of movement or association is a basic freedom that seems to be trampled upon.
In an interview with AYV Television, the police chief said, “the streets are not meant for jogging, and are not appropriate venues for such jogging.” While stating that others shouldn’t infringe on the rights of others, he said he jogs in his own house.