Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 July 2021:
A member of parliament of Sierra Leone’s main opposition APC party – Emmanuel Saidu Conteh, was arrested last week, on allegation that a vehicle he had shipped into the country contained firearms and ammunitions on arrival at the Queen Elizabeth seaport in Freetown.
But according to reports, Mr Conteh has denied any knowledge of the vehicle and the contents alleged to be firearms by the police.
Supporters of the MP are accusing the police of planting fireamrs in the vehicle in order to frame the MP and have him arrested on false charges in conivance with the ruling SLPP party.
A civil society group, Civil Society Alternative Network (CSAN SL), has written a letter to the Inspector General of Police, calling for the release of parliamentarian Conteh. This is what they said:
“Our attention has been drawn to a radio interview by the Public Relations Officer of your institution (Media 1) about the Honourable Member of Parliament for Constituency 129 Emmanuel Saidu Conteh who is under your custody at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) since last Friday, after receiving calls from the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) deployed at the Sierra Leone Ports Authority (Water Quay) whilst in Parliament.
“It is alleged by your personnel that he was in possession of firearms and was requested to go for questioning at the Sierra Leone Ports Authority (Water Quay) when the Director of CID ordered his arrest.
“Sir, this is the third time it is happening now in the last 3 years, were Honourable Members of the Sierra Leone Parliament are arrested and detained with immunities removed by the Speaker of Parliament. Notably, prominent amongst these MPs are Honourable Sheka Samai from Pujehun District, who was wrongfully charged for an incident in Sahn Merlin Chiefdom, Honourable Lahai Marrah from Falaba District, wrongfully arrested by the SLP for posting in a Parliamentary WhatsApp forum which is an extension of Parliament, but the leadership of Parliament was against the detention, and now the Honourable Emmanuel Saidu Conteh of constituency 129 in Freetown.
“According to the SLP, Honourable Emmanuel Saidu Conteh is alleged to have been in possession of unlawful arms and he is currently under detention at the CID Headquarters in Freetown, he has spent almost 7 (seven) nights in custody.
“Sir, be informed that Sec 99,100, 101 and 102 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, gives immunity to sitting Members of Parliament. However, your personnel have not been magnanimous in any way with Honourable Members of Parliament who they should salute/respect, but rather have resorted to either arrest and detained them and at the same time allegedly beaten them up in their respective offices, especially during the state opening of Parliament in May 2018.
“Sir, you will agree with us that government comes and go but the Sierra Leone Police remain as “A force for good,” as you are aware that democratic Policing is now a norm in modern society. In essence, Civil Society Alternative Network (CSAN SL) is recommending that your humble and esteemed office do the following:
1.Immediately release the Hon Member of Parliament without conditions attached to allow him continues his Parliamentary sittings.
2.That the Sierra Leone Police continue to respect the United Nations Protocols on International best practices of good policing.
3.As the Network start preparing to go to Supreme Court for interpretation on the various sections that has to do with immunity of Members of Parliament, We want to encourage the Sierra Leone Police to stop the unlawful arrest and detention of Honourable Members of Parliament who have immunity as enshrined in sections aforementioned in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
“Our network is a group of seasoned, matured and experienced Human Rights Advocates, and it is committed in working with the Sierra Leone Police to enhance their capacity in good Policing in the country.
Thomas Pa Alie Babadie (Mr.), Chairman, Civil Society Alternative Network (CSAN SL) 2nd Floor, 37 Mends Street, Freetown
CC: The Hon Speaker of Parliament
Secretary to President
Leaders of Opposition in Parliament
Clerk of Parliament
Independent Candidates of Parliament
Director of Criminal Investigations Department
Independent Police Complaint Board
Civil Society Organizations