Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 August 2016
After yesterday’s brutal massacre of unarmed civilians in Koinadugu district of Sierra Leone by the police, there has been no official response from State House or the ministry of internal affairs to pacify the people of Koinadugu.
A few years ago, one person was shot and killed by the police in Tonkolili during an industrial protest against the management of the iron ore mining company African Minerals. The president and a delegation of ministers and MPs representing constituencies in the district went to Tonkolili to meet with the community.
But yesterday, it was Koinadugu, a district that critics say is held in contempt by the Koroma government, especially after recent media revelations about the withdrawal of State House support for the chairman of NATCOM – Momoh Konte – a son of Koinadugu.
Koinadugu is minerals poor and largely survives on subsistence farming, despite its vast, rich and green agricultural lands.
With youth unemployment at more than 80%, Koinadugu is the poorest district in Sierra Leone, yet there are several senior ranking ministers in the Koroma government who come from the district, and have made little or no impact to Koinadugu – their district of birth. This includes the former finance minister – Kaifala Marah, now governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone.
As condemnation of the police brutality continues, opposition presidential aspirant – Mr Alie Kabba (Photo) had this to say:
“Reports of police shootings and killing of unarmed protesters in Kabala, Koinadugu District, are another grim reminder that our national politics is still heavily chained to the crudest of dangerous miscalculations on the part of law enforcement officers.
“Whatever the explanations for the brutal crackdown on unarmed youth protesters and its resultant spillage, the responsibility for upholding the peace should never be allowed to deteriorate into a full-scale shooting spree.
“The shooting of peaceful civilian protesters is definitely unacceptable, and it constitutes a grave threat to national peace and security.
“Citizens, in the exercise of their civic responsibilities, have the right to express their views and hold government accountable. The police, on the other hand, have a duty to maintain law and order, but it is not an unrestrained license by trigger-happy officers to intimidate or use deadly force against unarmed protesters.
“I am calling on the government to immediately rein in the forces it has at its disposal, and to speedily launch a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the tragic events in Koinadugu District.
“As we edge closer to national parliamentary and presidential elections, it is crucial that those in charge of state machinery act to assure the public that “power” and “force” would not be used to coerce people or thwart their will.
“The current political climate in the country appears to be getting very cloudy. Some defining clarity is needed here from the highest levels of the command chain! And it is needed fast in order to prevent further needless loss of life.
May the souls of all victims in Kabala rest in perfect peace! And may peace reign supreme, everywhere, in our beloved nation.”
Mohamed Marrah – leader of Koinadugu District Youth Council, told AFP yesterday that the protest was non-violent and related to the transfer of a training facility designed to improve job prospects in this poor rural community.
“They were unarmed and singing songs to get the authorities to reconsider the action. Suddenly, we heard shots and two people in the crowd just went limp,” he said.
“We protested for our rights but the police violently reacted by firing tear gas canisters and live bullets into the crowed which killed two of our people and left many others seriously injured,” he added.
A police officer reached by AFP said anti-government demonstrators had attacked and burnt down the office of the ruling All Peoples Congress and his own residence.
Local Unit Commander Superintendent Alimammy Bangura said he had been “reduced to a pauper” with his home razed to the ground.
A local resident today reports that: “There are two corpses at the hospital from the sad incident yesterday and one has just been taken for burial with armed men as escorts. His name is Boboh Savage, 16 years old and attended Ahmadiya secondary School and was in form two. He was hit by a bullet on his right upper side whilst coming from School lessons. He was staying with his mother at Imam Street in Bankolia.”
Mr. Alie Kabba knows very well that he is NOT a Sierra Leonean anymore but American. He is going to face the due penalty of the Law upon his return to the United States of America for his deliberate political interference into the affairs of Sierra Leone. Amen.
The youths in Sierra Leone have been driven to a state of absolute frustration. They have lost all hope and no illusion for their future. They have been constantly used by politicians for their personal ambitions and only to abandon them without fulfilling promises made to them.
The police should be more tactful in dealing with the youths manifesting their disgruntled feelings about the system. In the first place, they should be allowed the legal right to stage peaceful demonstrations.
The problems begin when they are denied of this democratic right and the police’s violent reaction against them, just because they haven’t acquired permission to demonstrate.
Furthermore, quick reaction of the police to shoot at demonstrators, make them go on the rampage as they believe their legitimate right has been trampled upon. While the police are the custodians of the security of the people and the law and order enforcement force, shooting live bullets at unarmed demonstrators is uncalled for.
A number of demonstrators were killed by the shots of the police but no police was killed. This clearly demonstrates that the protesters were unarmed.
So, the police must learn to use adequate methods for controlling demonstrations instead of shooting at them. Also, give them the permit to demonstrate under strict control that guarantees the safety and integrity of other people and property.
It is the task of the police to watch out so that violent groups do not infiltrate demonstrations. If the police stopped using violence at demonstrators, demonstrations will go on peacefully. Alie Kabba is fast becoming the man of the people. His quick and timely reaction to injustices meted out to the citizens, consoles the pains and cools the anger of the people.
This has earned him widespread popularity among Sierra Leoneans. The people need someone who cares about their problems. He is a man to be reckoned with for the change Sierra Leoneans so desire. He is the right figure to spearhead the country’s transformation.
We should consider him fit to drive Sierra Leone forward beyond any doubt. His past track record and current engagement on political issues of the country denotes clearly his preparation to take the helm of steering this nation to good governance.
Good day to you all in the news room. To Alie Kabba, what have you said about the actions of the youths in Gbangbakoke? Were the police involved in this incident? Did the police send them to burn houses? Are these the youths you consider as unarmed? What amount of force did the police use that led them to cause such atrocities? Is this the kind of protest you consider as peaceful?
Have we got to the state where youths now have the right to demand everything and in such manner? Is this the kind of chaotic state Alie Kabba wants to take us?
Instead of condemning the lawlessness of the youths, you condemn the police who equally have their right to be protected and are charged with the responsibility to maintain law and order.
Alie Kabba, can you please make a statement on the actions of the youths in Gbangbatoke?
Thank you and kind regards.
The trigger happy Sierra Leone Police are at it again. It seems that they are using Sierra Leoneans for target shooting practice. What is the International Security Advisory Team (ISAT) in Sierra Leone, which is funded by the British Government, doing about such atrocities?
It sounds pity to read from an aspiring leader that the security force he will rely on for state protection is not responsible, without condemning the lawlessness of the youths on whose behalf he claims to be speaking.
Is this the kind of leadership that you want to provide for this country? Where nobody is below the law? People can protest at any time for anything? Will you expect a protest each time you take a decision, to the best of your thinking or because of internal struggle, you think is in the interest of the nation?
Are you sure you will want to lead a force you have no confidence in? Or are you going to dismiss the entire leadership of the force, should you take power? Were the youths right to stage a protest without the involvement of the police? As a leader, will you encourage me to dance into your room without getting through the due process?
Are you guys really listening to the youths in your quiet time, to hear them plan destruction at any given opportunity in the name of peaceful protest? Have you really got the time to talk to the youths about how to engage in development? Or your interest is just to get to the helm through the support of these youths.
I think I blame this more on the youths themselves, because they feel protected by those condemnations against the police. But these same youths turn round and go to the police whenever they are in confrontation with one another. So why do they see the police as their enemies?
To have even gathered in front of the residence of the Paramount Chief without the permission of the police was unlawful. Alie Kabba, are you not aware that every public gathering requires a police clearance under the laws of this country? Or do you intend to repeal that law so that we live a chaotic state where anybody can do whatever he/she likes?
Do you have to kill anybody that kills any of your relative or friend under the laws of this land? Do you, Alie Kabba, have the right to burn down houses, including public buildings, anytime someone kills your relative or friend? Are you, Alie Kabba, saying that the youths were right to protest even without clearance from the police?
How are you sure those youths were unarmed? What do you refer to as being armed or unarmed? Do you know what David used to kill Goliath who was armed with sward and a well protected steel garment? What was used to burn down the houses they destroyed? Were they not missiles? How do you think they did all those acts without prior planning?
Alie Kabba speaks again for the voiceless, the disadvantaged and oppressed. He has always said he is the man for the 99% and this is a clear demonstration of what he believes in. From North, South, East and West he stands up for human dignity and has always been the pillar of support for those that are less considered in society. This shootings should not be happening in our fragile society; recently coming out of a dreadful civil war, and also hit by Ebola virus that the government had no clue to solving. As Sierra Leoneans we are not even safe in our match-box houses, we are not safe from the cluthches of the 1 % who continue to dampen our hopes of a true country with all the resources that could make us the envy of other nations including the West. let us continue to be resillient in our support for Alie Kabba and his vision for our country. Everyone in…No one out.
Thank you Alie Kabba!
Killing innocent youths for attending a peaceful demonstration is unacceptable and have no place in a democracy. The police officers responsible for the loss of those precious lives must face justice. Intimidating, killing and imprisoning critics of this government must stop, before our country is plunge into yet another unrest.
Our people have suffered for too long and it is time this government care for the people that voted them in power.
May their souls rest in peace.
Alie Kabba I want to thank you for your prompt advice to the government which is on point. Sierra Leoneans are fed up with the lawlessness of the very police force that is responsible for protecting lives and property.
Our brothers, sisters and children are killed by our own fake force for good, for standing up for their rights.
You are God sent… A man with positive leadership qualities. We have decided to choose you because you are capable of making Sierra Leone a shining light on the hill top of Africa.
I share in the grief of family members n friends of these great fighters of truth.. May their souls rest in perfect peace.