On Individual Responsibility And Leadership

By Njundu Drammeh

We do not seem to be learning much from history. Or are we? Bad or illegal order is still bad or illegal no matter who issues it. Anyone who carries out that illegality is as culpable as one who gives it out. Those who shot at the April 2000 student demonstrators should know they would be held accountable. Those who are facing the Janneh Commision know they would be held accountable obeying illegal or bad orders from Yaya. Those who fired at the Faraba peaceful protesters should know they would have to face the music, in their personal capacity.

Njundu Drammeh

The one who ordered the shooting (from the high command), the one who issued real bullets to the men, the one who ordered the shooting and the brutalisation (the commander on the ground), the one who cocked the cork or the trigger and fired that life bullet, the police officer who encouraged the shooting or looked askance while people were shot at and brutalized- all of these people are culpable and should answer some serious questions.

It is a cardinal principle in modern policing, and in a democracy. that no law enforcement officer should obey an illegal order. I have been at human rights training workshops for police officers where this has been emphasised in no uncertain terms by senior police officers. Every law enforcement officer is supposed to consider these in the executive of any order, especially one where force will be involved

Legality: Is it legal?
Necessity: Is it necessary?
(Proportionality): Is it proportionate to the counter force?
Accountability: you would be personal responsible for your own conduct, your acts of commission and omission

Without biasness, I want to believe, and I have reasons to believe, that the general duty police officer would have acted more reasonably. He or she is to a greater extent more understanding, respectful and has connection to the people, rogue elements there are nonetheless.

The Paramilitary Police, by their history and formation, were principally set to brutalize, to terrorise and if necessary to kill civilians, to mercilessly quell demonstrations and riots, to be a torture machine, mindless, soulless, heartless. The animosity they exhibit towards civilians, and the exuberance and vigour with which they torture is mind boggling and worrying. If the NIA is trying to turn a new page, then the paramilitary police, if not disbanded, should be sanitised and purged of its notorious elements.

What am also learning about leadership and leaders:

Proactivity is a good leadership quality. A leader does not have to wait for the telephone; the leader picks up the phone and ask;

Momentum or Timing is a leader’s great opportunity. A leader who does not know when to lead, where and how will eventually court disaster and people’s disapproval. A leader should knows his or her “finest hour”, that moment when he or she should show leadership because the nation is demoralised, agitated, discouraged, skeptical. Missed opportunity rarely returns.

“A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him” J.C. Maxwell….. Every leader must vet the kind of people in his or inner circle. These people make or break leaders, these people support or destroy. They say there are only two types of people: people who lift and people who lean. A leader should know which type of people to have in his or her team.

But it is also true that “Who you are is who attract”. A magnet attracts metals of great quality, not aluminium.

Trust is eventually lost when the people or followers feel that there is little heart to heart connection between them and their leader. A leader who understands the importance of connection and uses it wins the votes of the people. People care only when they know one cares.

The effectiveness of an organisation or country is determined by the effectiveness of the leader. It is said that “an army of stags led by a lion is more formidable than an army of lions led by a stag” Polish proverb

Everything rises and falls with leadership. Fish rots from the head down.

May Allah help us and leadership too.

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