Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 July 2019:
State House in Freetown is yet to respond to reports of the unfair arrest and detention of the Chief Imam of Grafton Town in Freetown, after the government’s chief minister – Professor David Francis, allegedly ordered the police to carry out the arrest.
According to reports, the chief minister ordered the Imam’s arrest after receiving reports that the spiritual leader had instructed cleaning staff at the mosque to remove President Julius Maada Bio’s photo from the wall of the mosque.
It is understood that a cleaner had placed the picture on the wall without the knowledge of the Imam, and was instructed to remove it so as to avoid bringing the mosque into political controversy within its congregation.
It is reported that the cleaner reluctantly removed the president’s photo from the wall, and then reported the matter to the chief minister’s office. (Photo above: Chief Minister Dr David Francis).
Chief minister professor Francis, then ordered the arrest and detention of the Chief Imam, it is alleged.
Giving evidence at the police station, it is understood that the chief Imam told police officers that it was wrong for the president’s photo to be hung on the wall of the Mosque – a House of worship, as it is against the spirit of Islam and the teachings of the Holy Quran. (Photo: President Bio).
“Pictures of government authorities are not published in a House of God because it is Haram in Islam or Christianity. We respect government authorities but we don’t worship government authorities. So such photos are not allowed on the walls of our Mosques or Churches,” said angry worshippers at the mosque.
Grafton is a coastal town close to the peninsula, in the Western Area Rural District of Sierra Leone, and is home to many Aku Mohamedan Krios, who are believed to the largest inhabitants of the community.
The Krio language is the primary language of communication and the most widely spoken language in Grafton.
Despite several attempts by the Sierra Leone Telegraph to obtain response to these allegations from State House, officials remained tight lipped.
Many in Sierra Leone believe that chief minister Francis is perhaps the most powerful politician in Sierra Leone today.
A senior government official and SLPP party grandee, told the Sierra Leone Telegraph: “President Bio must curtail the powers of the chief minister, if not he will derail the president’s efforts in unifying the nation and cause chaos.. But sadly, I don’t think the president would have the courage to do so, given the immense control the chief minister has over what the president says and does on a daily basis.”