Alarming rise in political arrests in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 August 2019.

Another opposition APC politician has been arrested by police in Sierra Leone, in what many now fear is a continuation of a major crackdown on the opposition by the ruling SLPP, as by-election in the Hamilton constituency in Freetown draws closer.

This brings the total number of opposition APC politicians arrested in Freetown to 24, all of whom, with the exception of two are tonight spending another night at Pademba Road prison, since their arrest over three weeks ago.

The latest to be detained is the chairman of the Western Area Rural Council, Mr Kashor Holland Cole. He was arrested yesterday outside the magistrate court in Freetown, where 23 APC opposition detainees were appearing for their third hearing.

Kashor has today been released on a Two Hundred Million Leones bail

At yesterday’s hearing in the courtroom of the controversial magistrate – Hannah Boni, who many are accusing of being a ruling party surrugate,  bail was granted to the 73 year old Mr Victor Remoe Doherty, the father of journalist Vickie Remoe.

It is understood that the 73 year old is suffering from serious multiple health conditions. He was granted bail on the request of the Attorney General, after he was refused bail by magistrate Hannah Boni on two occasions .

But the remaining 22 APC politicians were all refused bail yesterday, and will appear again on the eve of the Hamilton By-election, 23rd August 2019.

According to reports, the chairman of the Western Area Rural District Council, Mr Kashor Holland Cole (Photo) was arrested by police yesterday after he was refused entry into the magistrate court to listen to the cross-examination of the first witness for the prosecution hearing – SLPP candidate for the Hamilton By-election, Josephine Jackson.

Police said a warrant for his arrest was issued following the rioting which took place in Hamilton a few weeks ago, where the SLPP candidate – Josephine Jackson alleged that Kashor Holland Cole was also involved in the violence that saw the destruction of her property.

But critics are describing Kashor’s arrest along with that of the 23 other opposition APC politicians as politically motivated and retributive justice.

They are all facing a 23 count charge, ranging from riotous conduct to damage to property.

The executive officers of the APC are protesting the arrests. They say the aim of the ruling SLPP is to intimidate their members and prevent the APC party from organising a strong campaign in advance of the By-election taking place in Hamilton on the 24 August 2019.

What is certain though, is that this wave of political arrests and intimidation is destined to destroy Sierra Leone’s democratic foundation and foment instability in the country, if it continues.

This is bound to make Sierra Leoneans as well as foreign investors nervous about the future of a country that just eighteen years ago, had come out of a ten year civil war, the causes of which are beginning to show signs of emerging once again.

These arrests come on the back of the wholesome disqualification of a dozen opposition APC parliamentarians from taking their seats won at the last general elections in 2018, accused of electoral malpractice.

As a result of these disqualifications, the opposition APC’s majority in parliament has been drastically cut, thus making the ruling SLPP party the largest single majority party in the Houses of parliament.

21 Comments

  1. Mr. John Fornah, please read the first comment I made on this same article then you will know from what context I brought up violence against women candidates. And I even compared Sierra Leone to Rwanda, where I personally believe that one of the reasons why they are successful is the role that the women play in the legislature.

    For clarity, I’m embarrassed to state that I have never voted in Sierra Leone and not even a registered member of any political party since I left 30 years ago. But I have always tried to visit my 82 years old mother to spend quality time with her. So I hardly have time for politics.

    Thanks to this forum, I am slowly and gradually being dragged into politics. With regards to our police corruption, especially in the traffic division, this is another matter which is a work in progress by the ACC. But in terms of security, although they are not perfect, they have been doing their best since late President Tejan Kabba helped transform that institution. The police are even respected around our region as peacekeepers.

    • Mr. Fallay, like yourself, I have never voted in any election in Salone; neither do I belong to any political party. I left Salone over 18yrs along. However, since 2005, I have been visiting every year, sometimes twice a year. Besides following up with news updates via news outlet like this one, I am privy with first hand information whenever I visit home. In addition, my on-going projects in Freetown force me to get first hand experiences with the administrative and civil aspect of the government. So, no one will sell me a cock and bull story contrary to what I have experienced or continued to experience in mama Salone.

      Like I already mentioned, I am neither APC nor SLPP. As far as I am concerned, they are birds of the same feathers. All the ring leaders involved in both parties are all about themselves. The ordinary citizen is rarely considered. So why waste my energy or resources to support such selfish individuals?

      During the EBK regime especially leading into the elections, my criticism towards the APC led to many of my friends labeling me as an SLPP. Now that I am critical of SLPP, the label has changed, I am now APC. I laugh at such labeling because for all I care, mama Salone comes first. So I will continue to call out the ills of any sitting government.

  2. I hope you won’t mind calling you Mr. John Fornah and thanks to the CEO of this forum Mr. Sahr Matturi who also plays the role of a detective or investigator who cornered you to state your real name.

    In my response to your question, although I may sound ridiculous, I have never been a member of Facebook or a WhatsApp group so I am not familiar with this type of information. You can call me old school but I only get my news from credible and reliable sources like the Sierra Leone Telegraph, AYV TV and sometimes Radio Democracy 98.1 (whenever they choose to do an excellent job by uploading the audio portion on their website)

    I will advise you to check on this newspaper’s archive to get the right information instead of spreading fake news just to tarnish the image of our police that are doing their best to maintain law and order and protect lives and properties in our beloved country.

    I am still patiently waiting for a response from my hero Mr. Thomas and I hope that it was not lifting the suspension of Mr. Saidu Conteh who I believe owes an apology or at least expressed remorse for his hateful comment towards the Mendes which triggered his first warning.

    But if his ego won’t allow him to do that, then he can at least apologize to Dr Samura Kamara (his 2018 APC Presidential candidate) for the hateful comment he made against his Mende Wife who I believe has been his backbone.

    Finally I give credit to Mr. Thomas for his disciplinary actions because in Krio we always say “ IF PEKIN TROWAY PAMINE(PALM OIL) NOR BIT AM, BUT WEN E TROWAY WATA – BIT AM”.

    • Alusine Fallay, with all due respect sir, you brought up the issue of violence towards women. Your sentiment was, any one who perpetrated violence towards a woman must be brought to justice and should never be deem a victim regardless of the circumstances surrounding the incident. So in light of this, I humbly asked you if indeed this your sentiment is applicable across the political spectrum in our local politics. Instead of you answering the question, you chose to divert the topic into something else.

      I stated besides the reports of properties being damage at the SLPP candidate’s office, we have yet to hear anything regarding physical wounds or assault subjected to any woman during the Hamilton event. I requested that you corrected me or provide this forum with corroborative evidence to prove your statement regarding violence towards women at the same event. None of these materialized.

      Ironically, you brought up the issue of fake news — spreading unsubstantiated, made-up reporting. You mentioned AYV TV. Contrary to what we already know about Hamilton, did they report or broadcast pictures of bloodied women being physically manhandled like what took place at the APC office few weeks ago? Please provide us with those facts, else, I will be tempted to label you a FAKE NEWS reporter.

      Did I hear you say the Sierra Leone police are doing a very fine job? Hahahah. This is another unsubstantiated claim or fake news with all due respect sir. Over the years, surveys after surveys have proven that the Sierra Leone police are among the most corrupt institutions. Selective justice, bribery, orders from above arrests, etc, characterize their daily operations.

      To be fair, since this is your opinion, were the police doing a very fine job during the 10 year tenure of EBK when your SLPP supporters were being mishandled and arrested via orders from above? Just curious sir. Hahahah . I am tempted to believe that you are applauding the police now because the baton has changed.

      SLPP is now in power, only opposition parties are subjected to injustices. Prove me wrong sir. By the way, you are welcome to always address me by my government name – John Fornah.

  3. With all due respect to Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas, I will appreciate if he can just clarify his response to Max comment “ When APC were in power we called them out for their human rights excesses. Why should we stop because its SLPP in power. Our last word.”

    In my personal opinion, I believe this is the most fair, balanced and well respected newspaper in Africa, but I am a bit disturbed if this response is towards the above article which I believe is inappropriate. Arresting suspects that have been alleged committed violence against a Woman by destroying properties is not human rights excesses and unless proven innocent they should not be treated as victims.

    Also, because of your status you should refrain from making any judgment before the end of the investigations and trials. The APC party leadership has not even condemn the violence and even the Cocorioko newspaper editor is shocked by this article and they decided to copy and paste it in their newspaper.

    Is Kashor Cole not the Chairman of the District that cannot even conduct a Headman election in a small community because of violence. But on the other hand if it is a general statement I believe Mr. Thomas is on point.

    With regards to Mr. Saidu Conteh, I believe he was just an entertainer and was just trying to show the world that he is the smartest man on the planet. But he crossed the line when he made some hateful statements against all Mendes, in which I was expecting the editor to expel him from the forum instead of warning, but I still respect his decision.

    After reading that comment I believe that the late President Stevens and late President Momoh were turning in their graves since their mother and wife were both Mende.

    • Alusine Fallay “Arresting suspects that have been alleged committed violence against a Woman by destroying properties is not human rights excesses and unless proven innocent they should not be treated as victims.”

      Indeed Mr. Fallay, violence against women must never be tolerated or justifiable. In light of this, did you condemn or call for the arrest of those SLPP sympathizers in guise of police officers who terrorize, humiliated, stripped naked several women at the APC party office a few weeks ago? I am just curious since it appears you are playing the feminist card here to cover up for the inhumane treatment being subjected to the APC members.

      Also, unlike the bloodied women at the APC office, I have yet to see evidence of women causalities at the recent event in Hamilton. The only reports so far are about alleged damage to property including a vehicle. Correct me, if I am wrong sir. Awaiting your response.

  4. Indeed, sometimes separation can become a catalyst for enacting positive change and promoting the real things we cherish, hold sacred and dear in our lives.

    It could also trigger overwhelming feelings and emotions of joy, awe and confusion inside of you, never once felt before. True. During this brief period, I had been suspended from this forum, countless friends of mine, some of whom are Members of Parliament have been totally devastated, heartbroken and at a loss for words: “Who will represent us now as you vigorously do Saidu?” one said to me, as he walked away in sadness.

    So I spent time reflecting on the way I had been interacting in the past, and saw a need to be courteous and polite towards others, no matter how silly, delusional and absurd they may appear or sound.

    Truth is, that is not my style, but things have to change. It must be so! So here we go – on behalf of the poor struggling masses, the Young Cubs in Parliament, my new employees, friends and family members. I offer my heartfelt apologies to all those who have been offended, angered and humiliated my words.

    I urge the Editor, the honourable Mr Thomas to be magnanimous, so that we can put the past behind us and I promise that there will be no further insults against members of this forum coming from me. Again, I have come to the conclusion, that Pride and affluence, should not become a hindrance and shackles causing me to stand on the sidelines watching while injustices mature and grow horns like a wicked, stubborn raging Matador’s Bull.

    Nope,the Stakes are too high, to just look and walkaway. Lastly, I would like to thank Mr Mohamed Kamara and the sharp-witted Mr Matturi for their kindness, concern and thoughtfulness in this matter….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Welcome back Mr. Saidu Conteh. Thanks to the Editor Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas for his flexibility on this issue.
      I hope that, Mr. Saidu Conteh will keep to his promises so that the RISING SUN WILL RISE AGAIN.
      FORUMITES, let’s welcome Mr. Saidu Conteh back on this platform despite what transpired in the past.
      LONG LIVE THIS PLATFORM!

  5. Young4na,

    I assume you are a brilliant guy. Please read my comments again carefully.
    I was only interpreting what my understanding was of Alfred Kalley’s comments.
    Are you insinuating that I do not have a right to that? Where in my comments did I state that the Sierra Leone Telegraph was biased. C’mon man!!!

    I disagree with your argument that a bail is a defendant’s constitutional right. A bail is not necessarily a constitutional right.

    A judge has every right to deny a defendant bail as granting bail in any case is discretionary to the judge sitting on the case. I am sure that the judge in this case considered the offense too egregious to grant the defendants bail. It is possible the Judge may have considered the defendants a flight risk hence her decision not to grant bail.

    Look, you can label me with any political stripe that you want. But my love for Sierra Leone comes first. Party politics is not important to me hence I have never registered for any political party in Sierra Leone.

    The APC are not above the law. They must respect the law. If they were bad in governance, they are worse in opposition on the basis of their tendency to always incite violence and lawlessness. Please tell your APC brothers and sisters to accept defeat and renounce violence and everything will be fine.

    • David Bangura below is your verbatim post regarding the biased nature of the publisher. “ Kalley’s argument is that he sometimes does not see any neutrality in the editor’s comments. Is he wrong?

      There are folks that are drawn to media outlets simply because they believe that those outlets are not partisan. Can you read the above article and not determine that the editor was being biased? I don’t think Kalley is yearning for the Telegraph to tilt towards his party of choice. He is simply advocating for unbiased reporting.
      Look, many of us enjoy reading the Sierra Leone Telegraph. But that does not mean that we should believe that the editor is always unbiased.”

      So Mr. Bangura, reading through your above comments, even a first grader will deduce that you deem the editor of this news outlet biased, so it is never my insinuations, it is your utterance. I hope you can own up to your comments.

      Now, in the case of bail constitutionalities, yes, the law gives judges huge discretion in granting bail to suspected criminals based on the degree of the offense and other factors. In the current case in Salone, a political event took place; clashes occurred between the 2 main political parties resulting to casualties on both sides—with properties damaged at ruling regime candidate’s premise.

      Instead of the police arresting all parties that partook in the violence and carry out a thorough investigation, a selective justice approach is being applied. APC members are randomly taken into custody despite reports that many of the arrested were never even around when the clashes were happening. To make matters worse, the judge has adamantly refused to grant bail to any of the arrested as if these people have committed capital murder.

      There is absolutely no corroborative evidence that the arrested individuals are guilty of what they have been accused of, rather, the case against them is circumstantial— finger pointing and baseless allegations. I presume you are living in the west Mr. Bangura, so I am sure you have witnessed or observed riotous activities taking place like the current ones in Hong Kong.

      Almost in all cases, casualties and property damage occurs. The approach of the law enforcement is always to arrest the defaulters and charge them to court. I am sure you can agree with me that they are never locked up permanently, refused bail, while the judge continues to adjourn the case week after week.

      Again, remember, these western riots, are politically motivated events, resulting into sometimes millions of dollars damages. So until you provide me facts that indicate the crimes that APC sympathizers have been accused of are more serious than a typical riotous conduct here in the west or any other nation for that matter, I still have the firm belief that the judge is politically biased.

      Lastly Mr. Bangura, you and a few others kept making the fallacious claim that the APC party is the only violent party in Salone. Unless you have not been following politics back home for the past 12 years, you cannot tell me you are unaware of the many intra-party violence that took place within the SLPP.

      Besides the many other intra-political clashes across the nation, prominent party leaders like John Benjamin, Isata Kabbah, have been brutally attacked at the party office premise, cars tyres deflated and windows smashed by SLPP thugs. Leading onto the election, we heard the many reports on the PAOPA faction of the party intimidating and in many instances beating up those who oppose our current president.

      After the election, SLPP supporters, mainly in the south-east took matters into their own hands, attacking and vandalizing properties of those whom they perceived as APC sympathizers. To date no SLPP member has been arrested for such barbaric acts.

      Just recently, there was a riotous event that took place in Bo among SLPP supporters leading to injuries and properties being damaged. No one was arrested; the only obvious victim is Dr. Prince Harding who ended up losing his job in the aftermath.

      I can go on and on listing the many lawlessness, thuggish and violent tendencies within the SLPP, however, I think readers will deduce the existing pattern. The APC is by no means free from such acts. They are as violent, lawless, and thuggish in nature just like their counterparts.

      So Mr. Bangura, if you expect us to accept your claim of putting Salone first, you must acknowledge the many flaws in both political parties. The lawless events I have listed regarding the SLPP are historical and facts my brother; they are real events that took place, so no one can negate that.

  6. I don’t think Mr. Saidu Conteh was banned from participating on this platform Mohamed.
    He was suspended in my view. Suspension always leave room for dialogue. I might be wrong but, that was what I understood.

    If he was suspended, then he would be given time to start contributing on this platform.
    The best thing for Mr. Saidu Conteh to do is to sort out the problem with the editor.

  7. My only advice to this President and his SLPP GOVERNMENT is to rule the country like a GOVERNMENT and not like a POLITICAL FOOTBALL PARTY.
    No one wins in times of CHAOS and ANARCHY. Political intimidation is not the answer to win elections or consolidate power.

    Finally, I am appealing to the APC to follow the rule of law to pursue their case. They should just teach the SLPP what POLITICAL MATURITY means.

  8. David Gawunja, I am an avid reader of the Sierra Leone Telegraph and have been so for a long time. I am really at a loss as to what you believe is wrong with what Alfred Kalley wrote. Please read the gentleman’s comments again. Kalley’s argument is that he sometimes does not see any neutrality in the editor’s comments. Is he wrong?

    There are folks that are drawn to media outlets simply because they believe that those outlets are not partisan. Can you read the above article and not determine that the editor was being biased? I don’t think Kalley is yearning for the Telegraph to tilt towards his party of choice. He is simply advocating for unbiased reporting.

    Look, many of us enjoy reading the Sierra Leone Telegraph. But that does not mean that we should believe that the editor is always unbiased.

    • David Bangura, can you please point out in the article what you deem biased or nonfactual? The central message of the article is simple- APC sympathizers have been arrested, locked up for over 2 weeks now and denied bail contrary to their constitutional rights under the law. Please explain whether or not this is not what is happening on the ground.

      Also, are you saying that not a single SLPP member participated in the stone throwing and vandalism? Can you also attest that the SLPP members were the only wounded victims? Didn’t some members of the APC suffer violence as well? So why is it only the APC members that were rounded up and arrested? Do you think such selective justice is the way to govern our nation? Please Mr. Bangura, let’s not allow politics to corrode our moral aspect.

      Let us fight for a just society, where justice is served equally devoid of party affiliations. Remember, we only have one Sierra Leone and these 2 major political parties will continue to take turns to rule us; this tic for tat will never take us where we dream of.

    • Misleading stuff. I encourage Mr. David Bangura to read the article properly to help him change his sarcastic comments and views on this issue.
      He should be mindful that, the road to HEAVEN is flat and smooth. But, that to HELL is ROUGH and BUMPY.
      Mr. David Bangura there frustrated about being BIASED.

  9. “What is certain though, is that this wave of political arrests and intimidation is destined to destroy Sierra Leone’s democratic foundation and foment instability in the country, if it continues.” The Sierra Leone Telegraph

    A major challenge in journalism lies in how to accurately report the news without allowing emotions to force an unwarranted deduction/conclusion. The Sierra Leone Telegragh is at its best when it abides by this ethos.

    Unfortunately, like the rest of of the media houses in Sierra Leone, The Sierra Leone Telegraph has seen the temptation to become partisan too strong to resist. Thus, what we have seen in the last two years is a paradigm shift in how The Sierra Leone Telegraph reports the news.

    Before the general elections last year, The Sierra Leone Telegraph became a covert mouthpiece for Kandeh Yumkella and the NGC, thereby openly declaring that the battle of the presidency was between the APC and the NGC. We all saw how those elections concluded.

    What can be noticed in the last two months with the SL Telegraph is an open bias in favor of the opposition APC. One does not need to read an entire editorial in the paper to determine where the editor’s head and loyalties lie.

    The headlines are as sensational as they are salacious. More often than not, they portray Sierra Leone as a hopeless country that can only be saved through divine intervention. Accordingly, if Sierra Leone is not portrayed as a country that is trampling on the democratic rights of Ernest Koroma through overt molestation in public places, it is caricatured as an environment where opposition party candidates are arrested at random and locked up.

    Clearly, journalism has a role in the development of any polity. But this role can only be maximized and made fruitful if it is devoid of sensationalism and bias. I still believe that The Sierra Leone Telegraph would come back to its roots and report the news accurately. This would give the readership a chance to draw conclusions.

    • You must be new to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, Alfred. I seem to remember when APC was in office the Telegraph was relenting in publishing stories that held APC to account to the joy of SLPP supporters like you.

      The Telegraph even championed regime change in the belief that SLPP will be good for Salone, and during the election called on Kandeh Yumkella to form a coalition with SLPP to help Bio win the election, as NGC did not have the electoral numbers on the ground. Because of this call, NGC readers slated the Sierra Leone Telegraph.

      There are many happy readers like me that have been reading the Telegraph since it was established in 2009 because of its News in Perspective philosophy. They give you the news and their own perspective of the news. I like that and will not want to see an end to it. But as I said you must be new to the Telegraph.

      Why should SLPP apologists expect the editor of the Telegraph to change the paper’s editorial style and philosophy just to pander to the ruling party? I am sure the Telegraph is not going to listen to such nonesense.

      Every major newspaper in the west has their editorial style of holding the government of the day to account: New York Times, Washington Post, etc to the dislike and anger of Donald Trump. So you see, Sierra Leone Telegraph is not an exception. Good journalism.

      Please leave the Telegraph alone to inform us, educate and entertain us. We like it just the way it is. This paper is not in the pocket of any political party or politician, thats why it is the most highly respected Salone newspaper. Please continue your work Mr editor.

    • Sierra Leone Telegraph why did you ban Saidu Conteh from posting comments here? Is it because he is APC and has been a pain in the sides of the SLPP? Please bring back Saidu Conteh. We miss his analysis.

    • Alfred Kallay, I have been a reader of the Sierra Leone Telegraph for over 5 years now and counting. In fact during the first tenure of EBK regime, Sierra Leone Telegraph and Awareness Times used to be my most credible newspapers until Dr. Blyden cross carpeted to the APC.

      Prior to Dr. Blyden’s disappointing move, both Awareness Times and Sierra Leone Telegraph were critics of the EBK regime. In fact, these 2 Newspapers were the only non-partisan news outlet for quite a period of time. Once Dr. Blyden was gone, Sierra Leone Telegraph took the sole mantle of reporting unbiased news happening in the motherland.

      In fact the publisher himself Mr. Thomas has authored countless articles critical of the EBK regime, most of them were usually accompanied with pictures of poverty and deplorable conditions on the ground and how the EBK regime was doing nothing but busy sharing the loot among the APC alagbas.

      As the 2018 election approached, Sierra Leone Telegraph became one of the fiercest critic of the APC, the news outlet criticism of APC was so intense that most APC supporters labelled it as an SLPP newspaper.

      Over the years, I carefully followed comments after comments mainly from SLPP supporters praising the good job this news outlet is doing. Now that the baton has changed, the same SLPP supporters who were happy with the good job this news outlet has been doing, have suddenly changed course.

      All of a sudden, this news outlet should not report on the human right abuses, injustices, and corrupt practices taking place back home. How amazing politics can change an individual’s moral concept and judgement in a twinkle of an eye!!

    • O Salone man, you people just cant resist the temptation of leaning on journalists to paint the facts to suit your politics. And when they dont you brand them as bias. Show me which western journalist who does not have some political bias. But what they dont do is to go out on a limb to praise sing the government of the day or the opposition when they are doing wrong.

      I did not see anywhere in that story where the editor painted the APC as innocent of the allegations. What I read is the editor stating what critics of the government and others think of the arrests.

      “The Sierra Leone Telegraph would come back to its roots and report the news accurately,” Alfred. What is inaccurate in this report please Alfred. I can confirm the facts as reported are accurate.

      If you think something is wrong with the editor’s conclusion which is warning your SLPP regime of what could happen if they continue to arrest opposition politicians, then you are unfortunately exposing your political stripes. What you should be doing is joining the call for justice and due process in Sierra Leone. Stop the politicking, people are suffering. Leave journalists alone to do their work.

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