On 16 December 2023, First Lady Fatima Maada Bio joined the Roberts family, well-wishers and mourners to attend a profound funeral service for the late CPL Claude Roberts, a courageous and valiant former member of the Joint Presidential Guard Force (JPGF) who tragically lost his life in active duty on November 26th 2023 during his unwavering defence of our nation and democratic ideals against an attempted Coup on that fateful day.
It can be recalled that following an earlier State Funeral held for CPL Roberts and other fallen Heroes in Freetown, some of the late heroes were buried at the Lumley War Graves whilst the remains of others, like CPL Roberts, were collected by their families for burial at their home towns and villages.
Today’s solemn funeral ceremony, prior to his burial, was held at the Holy Spirit Parish church in Kenema City where First Lady Fatima Maada Bio, adorned in mourning attire, stood shoulder to shoulder with the grieving family in bidding a poignant farewell to CPL Roberts.
Several Tributes recounted of how his resolute commitment to safeguarding our homeland, echoed as an unwavering testament to the strength and resilience demanded in the face of adversity.
In her own heartfelt message, First Lady Dr. Fatima Maada Bio expressed her deep sorrow. She praised CPL Roberts for his unwavering commitments to serve the nation and to protect her family especially her children.
She said the late man was more than just a security officer to her family but that he was like a brother to her and has been like an uncle to her daughter Amina ever since Amina was born 8 years ago. She recounted that whilst other security officers will call her “Mama” or “First Lady”, the late man always called her “Kono Diamond Star”.
She acknowledged the sacrifices made by the late man in the line of duty and extended deep thanks to his memory for his consistent service that eventually led to his ultimate sacrifice.
In an emotional moment after saying Thank You to the late man for his service, the First Lady, Mrs. Maada Bio paused the Tribute to extend thanks and appreciation to her current serving personnel.
With tears flowing from her eyes and weeping reverberating throughout the congregation as she spoke, she told them: “I want to say Thank You to all my security who protect me. It is not every day that I tell you thank you. I want to tell you Thank You because no time exists where you have not put your lives on the line for me. I want to say Thank You. I want you to know that I appreciate you all and that is why I prioritize you because you have shown me time and time again that you will lay your lives down to ensure you protect me. So I want to say Thank You”.
The solidarity shown to the Roberts family by H.E. Mrs. Maada Bio was later replicated at the grave side where she accompanied them to witness the internment of the remains of the valiant late officer; all done with fullest Sierra Leone security honours.
Security colleagues of CPL Claude Roberts also cited that he served with distinction, embodying the true spirit of a dedicated defender of our nation. They said his sacrifice will forever be etched in their hearts, and also extended their deepest condolences to his family and friends.
The key message which ran through all the tributes and honours from the church to the cemetery, was that CPL Roberts’ bravery and unwavering commitment to duty will forever be etched in the History of Sierra Leone. His story serves as a beacon of courage and a call to action to uphold the values he held dear: freedom, justice and an unwavering dedication to Democracy for our nation.
Credit: Strategic Communications Division,
Office of the First Lady,
Republic of Sierra Leone.