Freetown was close to going up in political flames – where was the president and his senior ministers?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 April 2016

Sierra Leone police3Whilst large numbers of unemployed and disaffected youths and supporters of the Koroma government were drowning their sorrows of poverty and joblessness, by dancing in the streets of Freetown on Independence celebration day, a brutal carnage was being unleashed by the police on members and supporters of the country’s main opposition SLPP in their party office.

Those old enough to remember their history will take note that this was the same political tactics used by the former ruling APC party dictator – president Siaka Stevens against the opposition SLPP to muzzle and take away their civil liberty, which led to the declaration of a One Party State in the 1970s.

It was not just the brutality of the Internal Security Unit (ISU) of president Stevens that was the only worrying concern for human rights activists back then.

It was the president’s Machiavellian manner with which he plotted against and trapped the opposition into reacting, which then prompted his deadly security apparatus to unleash violence on unarmed citizens.

As a result of the widespread civil disturbance and violence that ensued, president Stevens was able to take advantage of this breakdown in law and order to declare a state of emergency – effectively a police state under his direct command.

Several opposition political activists were arrested and sent to the notorious Mafanta prison where they languished until death.

parliamentary history - siaka stevensMany others were declared insane and never saw their loved ones again, whilst a few of those who felt trapped in their own homes – too scared to come out, felt they had no choice but to surrender. They then joined the ranks of the ruling APC.

This marked the beginning of the end for the opposition SLPP in the 1970s, which created favourable political conditions for Stevens to declare his One Party State.

And it seems today, that history may be repeating itself, with unfolding events in the last few years in Sierra Leone, as president Koroma and his inner circle in the ruling APC prepare for their unconstitutional third term stay in office.

On the 27th April 2016, Freetown came close to going up in flames as the police and opposition supporters engage in running battles across the city, following the attack on SLPP supporters by the president’s armed response team and heavily armed ruling party security personnel.

president koroma failedBut where were president Koroma and his senior ministers, after cancelling all official celebrations in the capital Freetown?

According to media reports, they had all headed to what is fast becoming the new capital city – Makeni, where the president has spent millions of dollars to provide constant supply of clean, safe drinking water and electricity, at the expense of citizens living in Freetown.

Life in Freetown for most people is miserable. And those looking forward to some form of official celebration – such as the annual military, police, schools, public sector and civil society street parade, were disappointed.

Freetown continues to suffer crippling water and electricity shortage. The city is being overrun by uncollected mountains of rubbish. Poor sanitation and overcrowding continuing to pose major public health risk.

This is how president Koroma and his senior ministers marked and celebrated Sierra Leone’s 55th independence anniversary, as reported by the Awareness Times newspaper:

President koroma and victor foh at APC conference 30 april 2015“Honourable Vice President Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh on Wednesday 27th April 2016 celebrated the nation’s 55th Independence Anniversary in Bo and Makeni cities. Early in the day, he addressed cross section of citizens in southern Bo City following which he stormed northern city of Makeni.

“ In Makeni, together with Mayor Sunkarie Kamara, Attorney General Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, the Deputy Mines Minister Ignosio Koroma and Paramount Chief of Makeni, the Hon. VP was special guest at Annual Independence Masquerade Parade. Makeni residents were visibly elated at having the VP celebrate with them.

“Meanwhile, VP will today 28th April 2016, join His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in Port Loko where the President celebrated the Independence anniversary. The two leaders of Sierra Leone are expected back in Freetown later this evening.”

This show of lack of respect for the capital city of Sierra Leone is becoming palpable. One sometimes wonders why the capital city is being so badly neglected by the Koroma government.

The answer is simple. The ruling APC may be planning to move the capital to Makeni – the ruling APC stronghold and home of the president.

Following the police attack in Freetown on Independence Day, and in response to a statement issued by the police, there are several questions that needs answering.

Yesterday, the civil society group in Sierra Leone – Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone (CHRDSL) issued a strong statement, referring to the police violence as a “misuse of firearms and attacks on unarmed civilians by the Sierra Leone Police (SLP)”

Sierra Leone policeThis is what they said in their statement:

Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone (CHRDSL) would like to express its concern and dissatisfaction over the spate of violent confrontations between the police and supporters of the country’s opposition party in the capital Freetown, the latest being in the opposition party headquarters on the 27April,2016, resulting into the  assault and arrest of dozens of  opposition politicians and their relatives while the country is celebrating its 55 years of independence

CHRDSL believes that supporters of the opposition party who were also marking their 65  year anniversary have been unfairly treated by the Police on a day that means a lot to them.

We wish to take this opportunity to wish the injured citizens quick recovery. We also want to remind the SLP about the country’s constitution and other international human rights laws which guarantees every Sierra Leonean the right to assemble. Therefore any unlawful action by the Police thereof is not reasonable and justifiable in a democratic Society.

The ease with which Sierra Leone police officers used live bullets to disperse the unarmed opposition supporters at their party office is a very worrying sign for this Nation’s political future.

The poignant question that should be asked even as the country reels from the aftermath of this despicable incident is was the use of lethal force by the police justifiable?

However, we also acknowledge that the police are mandated to use force where necessary in order to enforce the law. Such mandate is not without responsibility.

Siera Leone Polise unleash violesh on SLPPIn view of the above concerns, CHRDSL deems it fit to make the following observations; the SLP need to be. Mindful of escalating the tension in any possible conflict affected areas across the country by adopting proper community relationship and  stop resorting to use of fire arms at the slightest provocation.

All law enforcement officers must be guided by the principles of reasonable force and democratic policing.  A police officer shall always attempt to use non-violent means first and lethal force may only be employed when non-violent means are ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.

police violence at SLPP officeWhile we again condemn all deliberate attacks on civilians, including politicians and their supporters, police perpetrators of such attacks should not enjoy impunity.

Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone is calling on the Sierra Leone Police to immediately conduct a fully transparent and impartial investigation into the lawless behaviour of their men.

As an organization fighting for human rights, we will channel this collective anger into effective policy solutions that will not only make life safer for citizens, but will restore confidence in the Police, and bring hope to hopeless families and communities devastated by these acts of violence.

We also wish to draw the attention to the responsibility of duty-bearers to uphold human rights, and seek to support rights-holders to claim their rights.

About CHRDSL

Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone (CHRDSL) is a Rights based social-policy advocacy Organisation. CHRDSL is in Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and accredited to many UN Agencies.

10 Comments

  1. The SLPP have to report some of these incidents to the International Criminal Court for gross human rights violations.

    The Sierra Leone Police is descending into a level of barbarism not fit for any human being, let alone a state institution.

    Let us get the ICC and other international stakeholders to intervene now, before history repeats itself and the youths take matter into their own hands.

  2. SENESIE JUNIOR BOIMA: As an addendum to what I wrote yesterday May 3, please carefully note the following scriptural verses and obey God’s word in truth. For the Lord Jesus Christ is coming very soon. And all this lukewarmness typical of nominal Christians with cultural practices from deceptive masked devils of hell will be over with. Amen.

    “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. And He continued, you have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” Mark 7:8,9 (NIV).

  3. SENESIE JUNIOR BOIMA; Let me quickly give you a highlight of the ethnic groups in Salone as follows:

    Temne People (Largest ethnic group from Guinea, Fouta Djalon, at about 35% of Salone’s population);

    Mende People (Descendants of the Mane, major ethnic group at about 31%);

    Limba People (Third largest ethnic group at about 8%);

    Fula People (Fourth largest ethnic group from Guinea, Fouta Djalon, at about 7%);

    Mandingo People (From Guinea);

    Kono People ( From Guinea);

    Krio People (Freed African American, West Indians and Liberated African slaves from Jamaica, etc. make up about 3%);

    Kuranko People (From Guinea);

    Loko People (From Mande, Mali);

    Susu People (From Guinea);

    Yalunka People (From Guinea);

    Kissi People (From Guinea);

    Vai People (From Manden, Liberia);

    Kru/Kroo People (From Liberia);

    Sherbro/Bullom People (Native to Salone);

    Lebanese Merchants (Also called Salone-Lebanese)

    See “Ethnic groups in Sierra Leone” to ascertain the veracity of this piece of writing.

    As per our online conversation, please know that I did not adulterate our people’s cultural beliefs nor describe them as being devilish. Never! All what I did was to state the obvious reason(s) for the country’s awkward backwardness, with deceptive participatory engagements of masquerades in our festivities, including annual celebrations of the recent past Independence with no national awards. What a shame!

    This is not about being allegorical, but the very dim status quo and the existing state of affairs of the country.

    We as a people of Salone can gladly celebrate our happy moments without requesting the participation of any masquerade. Just keep them clean and simple.

    Of course, Salone is spiraling downwards at an accelerated rate. She needs deliverance from ALL ungodly actions and practices. This can only be possible through repentance of filthy behaviors that are contrary to holy living, prayer and God’s divine intervention in our lives. Amen.

    “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 2 Corinthians 11:14,15 (NIV).

    “Our actions are the results of our intentions and our intelligence.” Eli Stanley Jones.

  4. First of all, the president has realized that there is nothing to celebrate in Freetown which is considered one of the most filthiest and unhealthiest city in the world, thanks to APC’s voting block that migrated from the north to the western area, mainly for political advantage and also because they can’t stand the backwardness of the north.

    Freetown, which used to be one of the most peaceful and law abiding city in Africa deteriorated under the failed leadership of the APC and Johnny Paul Koroma who invited his northern brother Late Foday Sankoh to rapidly reduce the city to the dark ages within hours.

    The SSD which was formed by the late Siaka Stevens, which was commonly called Siaka Steven Dogs, was mainly used to terrorize any opposition against the APC so. This will always be part and parcel of the APC establishment.

    Even though they try to change the name to ISU, the ideology remains unchanged. This 55 years Anniversary was supposed to be a year of REFLECTION instead of MASQUERADE CELEBRATION.

  5. Mustache Moustache, you are missing the point with your continuous bastardisation of our people’s cultural beliefs, you describe as unchristian, and those doing it as agents of Satan, etc…

    I am a Christian as you are, and I am pleased to let you know that it pleases God by your acts and lifestyle that are godly in such a way that they can lead people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

    There are non Christian countries like China, Japan for example where they worship their dead heroes, but they are highly developed nations and industrialists. You should learn from Scripture Teachers like the late Dr Moyle Monroe, who teaches about our purpose in life.

    God uses that Black man to educate and teach the plans and will of God for our life as THE BLACK RACE ESPECIALLY, and he never condemned any cultural practices in his preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ

    Even Jesus Christ said that the children of this world are wiser than the children of light. I can tell from E Stanley Jones – an American Methodist missionary, God sent to India a non Christian country, and he learnt the principles of Mahatma Gandhi of non-violence and non conformity . Where Gandhi teaches his people to say and do “I love you but I will not obey you, do what you want to do.”

    The books of E. Stanley-Jones change protestant Christianity as we it know it, through the ministries of Oral Robert, Billy Graham. Please get copies of E Stanley Jones’ books and read them and pray to God to open your eyes and see the world in a new way.

  6. Actually, there is nothing wrong with the inclusion of traditional and cultural dance groups in our celebrations. Cultures across the world use these traditional shows in public festivities with pride and satisfaction.

    All of this forms part of our cultural identity. However, it should take place in a peaceful atmosphere free from provocation and violence of any type. Participants must be law abiding and political grudges and social confrontation shouldn’t be allowed in our festivities, if we are to be seen as a civilized people. Effective policing is necessary in our case.

  7. I look forward to a ‘Godly and Beautiful Time’ without the active participation of any masked devils, including wutehteh, ojeh, gorboy, nafalei, gbangbany, hunting, etc. in our yearly festivities in Sierra Leone.

    It suffices to say that the country has been inundated with all kinds of foreign and satanic forces in the echelons of the Government.

    May God help us liberate our Land That We Love from the stronghold of darkness and grip of ALL age-old demonic traditional practices, full of witchcraft. Amen.

  8. The Sierra Leone Police prioritises allegation of bigamy and unauthorised performance of a masked devil during independence celebrations. These are the main security threats to Sierra Leone and challenges to governance and the rule of law.

    The industrial scale embezzlement of public funds, the worsening security with increase in violent armed robbery, the fragile state of our porous borders and unprofessionalism of the police force, evidenced in abuse of their power through routinsed bribery and protection rackets, are less important concerns for IG Munu.

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