Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 August 2022:
President Bio has officially announced the setting up of a Special Investigation Committee to look into the causes of the street protests that erupted in several areas of the country on August 10th, 2022, where more than twenty civilians were killed and six police officers died.
The challenge now, is for the investigators to impartially go through the tons of video evidence, showing heavily armed security officers shooting live bullets at demonstrators, as well as angry youths attacking police officers, if it is to find and bring to justice – the killers of the police officers and civilians.
According to CNN report; “Hundreds of people took to the streets of Sierra Leone on August 10 to protest inflation and the rising cost of living. CNN’s Katie Polglase speaks to a man who says his friend was shot dead by police.
Sadly, there are fears the investigation itself has been prejudiced even before it starts, after the government and many of those appointed to carry out the investigation, had either – during or immediately after the deadly riots, took sides by condemning the demonstration as illegal.
Furthermore, by describing the demonstration as an “insurrection”, and those taking part as “terrorists”, President Bio and his government have seriously tied the hands of the investigators to produce the conclusion of their report before the investigation gets underway.
The committee’s terms of reference published by State House, does not help. It calls for an investigation “to examine both the immediate and underlying causes, sources of finance, execution and consequences of the insurrection as well as the response of the security forces”.
Critics of the government, including opposition political parties have rejected many of the names on the list of investigators appointed by President Bio. They are labelled as pro-government stooges, whose independence and impartiality are highly questionable.
These are the names of the investigators: Chairman – Lawyer Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai; Secretary to the committee – Security Sector Expert – Laurence Bassie; the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board – Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles who is on record to have criminalised the demonstrators in her public statement; Office of National Security (ONS) Coordinator, Abdulai Caulker – who many have criticised for the ONS’s handling of the demonstration, before and during its occurrence; President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) – Ahmed Nasralla; President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association – Michaela Swallow – who last week condemned the demonstrators as criminals; the Executive Director of Defence for Children International – Abdul Manaff Kemokai; President of the Women’s Forum – Sally Ndimawa Adams, accused of making public statements describing the demonstrators as criminals; President of the Inter-Religious Council – Archbishop Tamba Charles; National Chairman of the Council of Paramount Chiefs – PC Charles Caulker; Chairman of the recently established National Peace Commission – Sheka Mansaray; Chairman of the Political Parties Registration Commission – Abdulai Bangura; Chairman of the Independent Media Commission – Victor Massaquoi; Chairman of the Retired Senior Police Officers’ Association – J F Kanyako; and the Chairman of the Sierra Leone Ex-Servicemen’s Association.
Noticeable by her absence is Marcella Samba-Sesay, the Director of the Campaign for Good Governance, a civil society group, who recently spoke out about the economic hardship people of Sierra Leone are enduring, saying that the ‘government had not clearly articulated to the majority of people why the economic challenges had worsened’.
In an article published by the UK Guardian Newspaper, this is what Marcella Samba-Sesay said: “There is an information gap in the country where the government’s message doesn’t reach many people. They have not effectively communicated to people why things are getting bad and that is making people angrier.”
Commenting on the fact that anger has been rising over the police’s persistent and habitual refusal to grant permission to protest, she said: “But most of the time, when the issues are political, the police will say no, so people who want to come out and protest have not been given the permission to do so.”
“People are really suffering, and feel the government is not responding or allowing them to have a voice,” Semba-Sesay said. “We need people to be able to channel grievances through legitimate means.”
A starting point for the investigating committee is to fact-check all the videos that have been circulating about the police killing civilians and the demonstrators killing police officers. It would have also been helpful if ours was a country with a coroner service with only the chief coroner mandated to release dead bodies for burial after thorough inquests.
I guess, knowing where we are as a nation, it could be that the chief coroner could have still been coerced or cajoled into falsifying death certificates of non-existent corpses.
Maada Bio and his PAOPA government abhors dissenting and independent opinion contrary to their dogma of thuggery, savagery and dictatorial tendencies. So folks like Marcella Samba Sesay, who have refused to be cowed and remain independent are perceive as enemies of the regime, hence must never be allow a seat at the table.
As alluded by the article, almost 90% of the civil societies heads listed, are either compromise or afraid to render any opinion contrary to the regime prejudice indictment of the protesters being terrorists, sponsor by opposition leaders. So like prior investigation set up for the Makeni, Lunsar, Tombo, and Pademba prison killings, i personally don’t expect much coming out of this. If anything, perceive opposition enemies will be deliberately targeted, with trump up charges instituted.
None of the state actors like Lahai Lawrence Leema alleged extra judicial killings and arrests, members of the presidential guards video taping themselves in military uniforms, threatening to kill any citizen who does not like president Bio, and several police bosses and ruling politicians using threats on media, ‘to shot to kill’, which does manifest in each protest, will be held to account. The only shade of hope is that, international media organizations like CNN, BBC, and Aljazera, have began to shed light into the real happenings in our nation. With the advent of social media, the truth can no longer be hidden.
Bio is not fit to be the president of Sierra Leone .All his actions or the lack of point to one thing , he is self -centered and lacks the necessary requisite to lead a nation that is politically fractured on social , economic , tribal and regional lines .Bio’s tactics of political victimisation , with one eye on how to walk the tight rope of being all things to everyone that continue to listen to his monologue of blaming everyone else for the problems we’ve had for the last four years under his watch but himself ,shows how far he is prepared to go to present himself above all the things going on around or playing the innocent victim . Bio is the arsonist that wants us believe he is actually the fireman we gave all being waiting for to put out the fires he started .There is no point of having a commission of inquiry for the events of the 10th August, .Your bad economic policies , your lack of oversight on the diabolical actions of the trigger happy members of the Sierra Leone police force , the arrest of Rt Major Paloa Conteh, Dr Bylden , Dr Brigth , Dr Cole , Mr Kemoh Sesay , Dr Samura and many others all add up to create a sense of national manufactured crisis of your own making .Bio is also cleaver enough to keep our
western pay masters that continue to support our sluggish economy that is on a life support machine on board .Now we know when it’s suites his agenda Bio is quick to order a public inquiry .Public inquiries are there for the public interest. But what Bio have managed to do is to turned this unique part of government functions on its head for his selfish interest .The rank hypocrisy of Bio is written in bold letters .”I ONLY ORDERS PUBLIC INQUIRIES IF MY GOVERMENT IS UNDER THREAT “.The list of unfortunate national events that took place under Bio’s watch are just as deserving as the events that rock the nation on the 10th of August 2022.The fires at Susan Bay, the Floodings in Freetown , the killing of unarmed Prisoners at Pa Demba road , the killings of youths in Makeni , Tombo , Lunsar , and the oil tanker accident in which more than hundred prople lost there lives , not a word from Bio ,apart from making a speech to Wellingtonians the day after and lecturing the victims about how western societies are organized , that roads and the public foot paths is respected by all. When it’s suites his agenda Boi was quick to set up an inquiry on the former auditor General Mrs Taylor. Please save our country from this charade .