Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 January 2020:
The Reverend Dr. Reuben Shyllon, who after 40 years of service in Sierra Leone’s police force, served as ADC to the Former President Ernest Bai Koroma, as well as serving as the country’s Head of the CDIID, has been arrested along with several others, including his two daughters. (UPDATE – THE SIERRA LEONE TELEGRAPH HAS BEEN INFORMED THAT THE TWO DAUGHTERS HAVE SINCE BEEN RELEASED AFTER PUBLICATION OF THIS STORY).
They were taken to the CID headquarters in Freetown, after a violent land dispute involving the controversial SLPP parliamentary aspirant for Constituency 110 – Josephine Jackson and her armed bodyguard who fired several shots during the fracas.
Speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph editor from inside the CID, Reverend Shyllon said that his arrest is politically motivated, and that the orders came from above. “We have committed no crime,” he said.
It is alleged that the country’s chief minister – Dr David Francis gave the orders for the arrest of the reverend and several others believed to be supporters of the opposition APC party.
“The bodyguard of Josephine Jackson removed his pistol and fired two shots at one Ibrahim to kill but he missed him. I am now arrested under the instructions of Josephine Jackson. I am accused that in my presence a police officer who fired two shots was disarmed and I did nothing. How can I confront anyone unarmed when gunshots were being fired to kill? After 40 years of diligent and honest service to the police force, I am now being hunted simply because I served as ADC to the Former President. Why?” Reverend Shyllon told the Sierra Leone Telegraph. (Photo above: Reverend Shyllon dressed in his police uniform as ADC).
The Sierra Leone Telegraph contacted the General Secretary of the ruling SLPP party who is also the country’s Deputy Attorney General – Mr Napoleon Koroma to help obtain Josephine Jackson’s side of the story, but there has been no response.
This is what Reverend Shyllon (Photo) said:
“There is a land at Hamilton which was sold by my sister. The owner of the land was erecting a fence, and I saw that the fence had encroached on to the road. I told them the fence must be in line with the property site plan, and they stopped.
“This morning I was at the site speaking with the owner of the land when two men arrived. One of them told us that he is the brother of Josephine Jackson. The brother of Josephine Jackson told the owners not to erect the fence, and that if they do, he will break it down and they will pay the cost.
“The owners of the land asked me to show him the master site plan so as to identify the land boundaries. An argument ensued involving the two men – one of whom I came to know later as a bodyguard of Josephine Jackson.
“The brother of Josephine told the owners that Josephine had instructed that the fence should not be erected because she is using that road. I told the brother that this has nothing to do with Josephine but the ministry of lands. The brother of Josephine said I must respect Josephine and refer to her as “Honourable”. I refused and he then slapped me.
“When a gentleman who was at the scene by the name of Ibrahim chased the brother of Josephine, Josephine’s bodyguard fired two shots from the gun he was carrying. Ibrahim then grabbed the bodyguard and disarmed him. (See Video below)
“Josephine then arrived at the scene throwing abuse at me, and said she will order my arrest and have me sent to jail. She threatened that every opposition APC supporter or member on her list will be dealt with.
“The gun was later retrieved from Ibrahim’s vehicle by Josephine’s bodyguard, after Ibrahim had gone to report the shooting at the Adonkia police station. (Video below shows what happened including the bodyguard of Josephine lying on the ground).
“Now I have been arrested and detained at the CID for doing nothing wrong. I have broken no laws, other than refusing to refer to Josephine as “Honourable”. She is not an elected member of parliament or minister. She is a member of the SLPP.
“I understand that the chief minister ordered our detention, including my two daughters whose only crime was to ask why they are taking me away.”
Speaking about Reverend Shyllon’s past record and dedication to police duty, the former minister of Social Welfare in the Koroma government – Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden said: “Reverend Dr. Reuben Shyllon served as the Police ADC to Former President Koroma for many years. He was there until the end of Koroma’s first term when he was elevated to Police Headquarters as the Director of the Internal Disciplinary Department of the Police (CDIID). Reverend Shyllon is very religious and prayerful.
“After the first two Police ADCs to Koroma died untimely deaths whilst in post, Ernest Koroma requested for a prayerful Christian as his Police ADC. So Police Chief Acha Kamara assigned Shyllon, a prayerful Christian as the Police ADC to Koroma. To the best of my recollections, Shyllon served Ernest Koroma faithfully. (Photo: ADC Shyllon).
“By the time I worked as Special Executive Assistant to Koroma at State House, Reverend Shyllon was no longer the ADC but having observed his work with Koroma and as Head of CDIID, I have a lot of respect for Shyllon.
“He is a decent man and a Reverend with an academic doctorate degree. He built a whole church at Adelaide Street when he was working as ADC to Koroma. On his retirement from the Police, he is now a full time Pastor. I hope this unfortunate saga can soon end for him. He is a good man.”
An APC party grandee told the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph that Reverend Shyllon’s arrest is just another episode in the ruling SLPP’s determination to extinguish the opposition APC.
“Shyllon is a former Senior Police Officer now being politically intimidated and his rights abused. Just so too they maltreated Victor Remoe Doherty. Just so too they maltreated the journalist who died and they are now pretending that it was the beating by the erstwhile APC Mayor and others that killed him.
“The whole country is now a rudderless vessel and the Pilot does not have a clue how to steer clear off the rocks”.
Josephine Jackson is not new to controversy and allegations of political violence. She was involved in a violent confrontation outside her home at a pollical rally last year, involving some supporters of the opposition APC, in which a young APC supporter was seriously beaten and wounded.
Following this incident, a group of high profile APC members were arrested and charged to court for riotous misconduct. But the prosecution is struggling to obtain credible evidence to corroborate the allegations made by Josephine Jackson.
Yet, no one has been arrested and charged for the senseless beating and wounding of the young APC supporter.
Today’s arrest may not lead to widespread political violence or protest but will raise questions once again about the erosion of freedoms in Sierra Leone today, the rampant abuse of powers from above, and the ability of the ruling SLPP to control some of its violent operatives, bent on fanning the flames of political violence and discord in the country.
In the meantime, as is becoming all too common in Sierra Leone today as it was before president Bio was elected in March 2018, the Reverend Shyllon and his two daughters and others will be spending the night locked up in a cell without charge.
Up to going to press, the Sierra Leone Telegraph did not receive a reply to its request to obtain the other side of this story from Josephine Jackson.