Rights lawyer arrested in Sierra Leone as political crackdown continues

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 May 2020:

Lawyer representing some of the opposition political detainees arrested by the Bio-led government of Sierra Leone – Mr Ady Macauley, was himself arrested yesterday by police in Freetown, as the government continues its unlawful crackdown on political opponents.

Yesterday’s report of the lawyer’s arrest and detention which lasted for over three hours, comes after the unlawful killing by heavily armed presidential guards, of what is now believed to be well over forty unarmed prisoners at the Pademba prison in Freetown a few weeks ago.

Pademba Road prison houses several high profile opposition politicians – including the country’s former defence minister Palo Conteh and Freetown’s former Mayor Herbert George Williams, who are being held in detention, awaiting conclusion of their court trial.

In the last few weeks, concerns have been growing over the health and whereabouts of the political detainees, suspected to have been removed to the president’s political stronghold in the south of the country for trial. (Photo: Lawyer Ady Macauley).

This move, if true, could serve as a serious breach of fair due legal process and prejudicial to a fair outcome of the trials.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has this morning learnt that the British High Commissioner in Freetown, yesterday successfully got the authorities in Freetown to grant legal representatives access to  political detainee – Mr Palo Conteh, who is said to well.

The wife of Palo Conteh – Isata Saccoh, who is also under arrest for alleged possession of a gun believed to have been found at her home by police, is expected to appear at the  Magistrate court in Freetown today – thanks to the intervention of the British High Commission in Sierra Leone, a family source told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.

Buy why was Lawyer Ady Macauley arrested and detained?

The Sierra Leone Telegraph contacted police Headquarters in Freetown for comments and there was no reply.

But sources close to the CID investigation, told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that Macauley was questioned about a story published yesterday in the Organiser online Newspaper by its editor – Mr Abu Shaw, regarding the detained politicians.

According to the sources, Macauley was asked how he felt about his name being mentioned in the  story; whether he knows the editor – Abu Shaw; If he has himself read the story; and whether he is happy with the story.

In reply to all of which, Macauley is said to have replied that he hadn’t seen, nor knew about the existence of the story until the police brought it to his attention after his arrest, and that he is far too busy to pay attention to newspaper or social media gossips.

Writing in his Organiser online Newspaper this morning in response to the arrest of Lawyer Macauley, this is what Abu Shaw published:

“Popular lawyer Ady Macauley was arrested yesterday for my story entitled ‘SLPP Plans to Transfer APC Detainees from Freetown to SLPP Stronghold. Published in theorganiser.net newspaper on Monday, May 18, 2020, by the editor Abu Shaw, the article touched on the secret plot by the SLPP government to transfer all the political detainees from the capital Freetown to the SLPP fortress in the south-east of Sierra Leone.

“It was shocking to understand that one of the defence lawyers for the detainees Mr Ady Macauley was arrested and detained at the Criminal Investigations Department CID in Freetown yesterday for the article published in theorganiser.net newspaper which he (Ady Macauley) has nothing to do with whatsoever.

“Lawyer Ady Macauley’s arrest and detention was really shocking but obviously not surprising to readers of this newspaper because the SLPP government of President Julius Maada Bio is looking everywhere at the moment for scapegoats for the political and socio-economic mess they have plunged the country into.

“Our CID sources say Mr Ady Macauley was thoroughly grilled for hours during questioning yesterday at the CID headquarters in Freetown by desperate police officers who wanted to know if he (Ady) had disclosed any information to the editor Abu Shaw that led to the composition of the said article.

“Do you know Abu Shaw? What did you tell him?,” the irate police officers interrogating Mr Ady Macauley persistently probed. To all the questions, Lawyer Macauley told them that he does not even know Abu Shaw. “I did not devolve any information to him nor have I ever met him,” Ady told the CID officers.

“It reportedly took Mr Ady Macauley hours of denials to convince the police officers that he did not connive with nor supply any information to editor Abu Shaw regarding the story that was published on May 18. Reports say Lawyer Ady Macauley was subsequently granted self-bail and then released from custody.

“Theorganiser.net newspaper absolutely condemns the unnecessary arrest, detention and harassment of the learned lawyer Ady Macauley. The newspaper never consulted Mr Macauley nor did he contribute any iota of information in the write-up story.

“For further clarification, the publisher of theorganiser.net Abu Shaw does not personally know Mr Ady Macauley. He has never met Ady Macauley in person nor have they ever exchanged any written or oral or social media communications. Never. But that does not mean Abu Shaw is not conversant with current affairs in Sierra Leone.

“It is an open secret that the defence team Seray Kamal & Co Solicitors and Barristers led by Ady Macauley have, from the outset, represented the following detainees i.e. Mr Alfred Palo Conteh, Mr Herbert Williams, Saa Anthony Sinah, Amadu Koita, Abu Bakarr Daramy, Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden and Child Activist Hussain Muckson Sesay.

“Peace-loving Sierra Leoneans cannot understand why the police even executed the arrest of Ady Macauley. Because if they had read the article properly, the authorities would have noticed that Ady Macauley was never hinted as the source of the story. He was not quoted. He was merely mentioned because everyone knows that he is part and parcel of the defence team. Scapegoating the likes of Mr Ady Macauley is a public relations disaster for this government.

“And when you have a government that was elected democratically in 2018 and then suddenly becomes a dictatorship and authoritarian democracy, innocent citizens like Mr Ady Macauley would be scapegoated in order to find flimsy excuses for their incompetence in governance.

“The newspaper wholeheartedly regrets the harassment and intimidation of lawyer Ady Macauley by State Security yesterday. The newspaper reiterates that lawyer Ady Macauley is innocent of any involvement in the publication of the story in question. Theorganiser.net newspaper will not be deterred by government agents in its pursuit of freedom, unity and justice. Investigations into human rights abuses and undemocratic governance in Sierra Leone continue unabated.”

Lawyer Ady Macauley was unavailable for comments when contacted by the Sierra Leone Telegraph. But what is becoming increasingly and worringly clear in Sierra Leone today, is that the Bio-led government is transforming itself into a  totalitarian regime that could derail Sierra Leone’s hard-won peace, after a brutal ten-year long civil war that saw the killing of over 50,000 people. (Photo above: President of Sierra Leone – Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio).

After the COVID-19 pandemic is over, foreign investors and the international community will take a very dim view of the government of Sierra Leone – as a trusted partner for investment and continuing donor support.


  1. Young4na I was responding to comments made against me by Sahr Matturi and his request for me to respond which I last responded to in my second letter to this article which you only read one of them. Let us get to the thrust of the article in which Mr Ade Macualey was invited by the Sierra Leone Police Force for questioning as his name was mention in an article written by Abu Shaw. And to get to the root of that matter in that article we now know that those high profile inmates/defenders were not transferred to the SLPP strong base of the Bo district as the article suggested and their trials are still conducted in the Western area of mama Salone as the defenders face the justice court system recently in Freetown this week.

    Being invited by the police all over the world involves trial by persecution/prosecution and that three hours of questioning involves temporary detentions in police cells as the investigation progresses and I experienced such lockup in Australia not so long ago. Thank God that through United Nations previous research/funding of our judiciary systems in Salone, we now have self-bail of accused/defenders based on your local/national ID card is now possible based on the realities and the gravity/seriousness of the offends. Before that for instance any petty crimes committed/accused of, their bail applications requires sureties with properties and how many people have properties in Salone thus that was one of the reasons of the overcrowding of our remand/correctional facilities.

    Even in the western advance countries like the USA which have the highest rate of police homicides/deaths to civilians compared to other nations the availability of dangerous weapons for there citizenries for sale had made that country a bit unsafe for civilians especially minorities races.

  2. I am sorry boss Boima, but you seem delusional at best. What exactly is your point? Are you familiar with ‘libel’ or ‘retraction’ being widely used in almost all corners of the globe where journalism exists to hold politically comprise journalists accountable? You seem to be conflating issues. Freedom to express opinions (speech) by ordinary citizens and media practitioners maintaining credible standards according to media code of conduct are completely different subjects sir.

    What has been happening in Sierra Leone is suppression of freedom of speech and political retributions. In this particular article, a lawyer was arrested due to his name being mentioned in an article. As we speak, several opposition members are in detention for merely speaking up against the injustices being perpetrated by the regime. So please, do your diligence sir, this platform is not occupied by your typical villagers.

  3. To Mr Abu Shaw and others like Sahr Matturi, Ibrahim Jalloh etc who think/used journalism by flouting the laws and degrading authorities and accusing them of colluding with the executive branch of the current SLPP led government whenever sound decisions/judgements are made. Please read the decisions made yesterday in a country out of Africa and here in Australia of a 82 years old veteran journalist Alan Jones still active and a millionaire in dollars, who was condemned by the Australian Media watchdog and I am writing the decisions of the media watchdog below.

    The media watchdog has found that comments by Alan Jones about New Zealand Prime Minister Jecinda Arderm, breached standards. The media watchdog has found that outgoing talkback radio host Alan Jones breached multiple media rules for his comments about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arderm and inaccurate claims about climate change in a broadcast last year. AMCA said Mr Jones breached standards of decency and factual accuracy. The regulator said other assertions made on air by Mr Joes relating to climate change were incorrect.

    What can you Mr Sahr Matturi, Abu Shaw, Ibrahim Jalloh etc say about the above decisions/verdicts by a branch of the Australian Media and Communication Association to one of it’s members conduct/behaviour and such actions does not involved the justice system of Australia. This shows that nobody is above the law and the law must take its course. As for the Justice systems in Sierra Leone I will direct you to listen/read comments made by the Public Relations Officer OF THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN MAMA SALONE Mr Moses Kamara ESQ, who is a seasoned, sound and VETERAN lawyer, narrating the challenges and short comings of the JUSTICE system which is facing currently.

  4. Fantastic description and insight there by Mr. Adewale John! You are a star Mr. Adewale John and may the almighty God bless you for your straight talk. Keep participating on this glorious platform. What a good day for me. I just felt good and cool by Mr. Adewale John’s comment. Such comments make me proud to be part of this glorious platform.

  5. I like the Sierra Leone Telegraph for clarity and eloquent reporting …but I am often confused as to its editorial objectivity as a newspaper.

    • I felt the same when I first came across the Sierra Leone Telegraph some 10 years ago when APC was in power. Telegraph was a fierce critc of the Ernest Koroma government until power changed hands in 2018 and I see the Telegraph is still continuing its tough editorial policy of holding all governments in Sierra Leone accounatable. Thats when I realised that I had misunderstood the true meaning of journalistic objectivity.

      I read various newspapers here in the USA and not one can be described as wholly objective. Each one has its editorial political biases. I guess thats a fact of life we must all accept. As long as journalists are consistent in holding successive govenments accountable. Keep up the good job Sierra Leone Daily Telegraph.

  6. Is Freetown in Sierra Leone compared to city states like Singapore city due to it’s size is both a city/state and an entire country. What led to the prison riot in Pa Demba Road prison in Freetown amongst other factors were prisoners’ concerns contracting the Covid-19 virus from new inmates? If the authority decide to keep high profile inmates where their safety is paramount are we to dictate to them what to do? Do we know the dynamics and operations of the Correctional facilities as determined due to the gravities of crimes committed/accused by these inmates for security and safety reasons to other inmates and the greater society.

    If it is true that Bo correctional facility is the new abode of these high profile have we enquire to know why and is Bo not part of mama Salone and the second city of mama Salone. I remembered when I was a student at the Njala University in 1998 when they relocate to the Western Area due to the rebel war then and there campuses where destroyed; in one of the delegate of the national tertiary students union meetings, all regional tertiary institutions Student Unions leaderships voted unanimous to have the next Student Unions meeting held in Bo despite the then going civil war/unrest and I assumed they learned that inter universities union and meetings are ongoing then from Liberia despite there civil unrest students were allowed to meet at other campuses.

    Is the Western Area not congested and bearing the greatest burden of more than 4/5th the current percentage of cumulative active Covid-19 cases/sufferers. There were resent discussions then to have a second capital/administrative city after Freetown before the outbreak of Covid-19 that has shut down the day to day socioeconomic activities locally/globally and we are praying to had this pandemic over and long term socioeconomic infrastructure projects had the needed investments and constructions for the overall wellbeing of mama Salone

    • It’s really very sad and ridiculous seeing people on this glorious platform telling me about political history that makes no sense, with regards to what we are talking about right here, right now. Telling me about prisoners complaints on Coronavirus, is what triggered the Bio SLPP to transfer people, who have not even been charged of anything to the provinces for safe keeping? Send me a reply Mr. Senesie Junior Boima. In fact, if President Bio and the Bio SLPP were interested in the welfare of our prisoners, they should have pardon most of the prisoners who were imprisoned with petty crimes or at the very least, released them on bail.

      Instead, the presidential guards went and slaughtered our prisoners and prison officers and now, they have taken our political detainees, who are not yet charged, somewhere, where another prison break will be miscalculated and the political detainees killed with some sort political trigonometry, then, Sierra Leoneans and the world will be given political sine and cosine bogus stories for the reason without no one to verify.
      Hear Mr Senesie Junior Boima telling me about BO prisons. There is no prison in Sierra Leone that is not overcrowded. In fact, the BO prisons is one of the worst prisons you can think of Mr. Senesie Junior Boima.

      It makes sense relocating any institution, anywhere, anytime during a war for safety reasons. It’s not the same as snatching Dr. Sylvia Blyden, Rtd Major Paolo Conteh, Mrs Conteh and all our political detainees and taking them somewhere no one knows about, under sort JUNTA orders. Again, send me a reply if you disagree Mr. Senesie Junior Boima. Bottom line, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, Rtd Major Paolo Conteh, Mrs Conteh and all our political detainees must be released unconditionally. PERIOD. God bless, help and Protect Dr. Sylvia Blyden, Rtd Major Paolo Conteh, lawyer Ady McCauley Isata Saccoh and all our political detainees, for they are paying the price, so that Sierra Leone will be freed from tyranny, barbarity, political mess and injustice.

  7. I have every confidence that the present no nonsense UK Administration, will not sit aside and watch Sierra Leone plunge into another war by junta operatives. If it was not for the British government, the British Taxpayers and that brilliant British Military Armada, that was sent to stop that bloody war, Sierra Leone should have been a failed State by now. The intervention of the British High commissioner to do some mediation, must signal to President Bio and the Bio SLPP, that the international community and especially the UK are monitoring closely this sad, undemocratic and dangerous political situation in the country.

    When we talk of the Bastardisation of our constitution, the sideline of our parliament and the unprecedented abuse of power by President Bio and the Bio SLPP, colleagues from the other side of the political spectrum just go berserk. I can’t imagine why President Bio and the Bio SLPP could send people, who they say have committed crimes in Freetown to be tried somewhere in the province? That is just dictatorial and JUNTA rule which must be condemned outright. God bless Dr Sylvia Blyden, Rtd Major Paolo, Mrs Conteh and all those political detainees unlawfully incarcerated. God bless the no nonsense Johnson Administration and the British High Commissioner in Freetown.

  8. As Adolf Hiltler,and his Third Reich were fueled by racism to commit the most barbaric,and heinous crimes,so also is this President,and his Criminal,lawless Henchmen being consistently stimulated,motivated,and energized by their tribal sentiments, loyalties,and appetites.All their disguises,and veils have now fallen off; Shockingly, what many people had thought was a virtuous woman behind the veil,has now turned out to be an old grumpy harlot,with a heavily painted face,seeking to destroy,deceive,and convince the unsuspecting masses that she is still noble,upright,pure and beautiful.

    The SLPP veils are off;Gorillas were in our midst,hiding in the mists,and strangely we didn’t have a clue.The SLPP is anxious to promote,and put boldly on display rampant tribalism,hatred and revenge.Who would have guessed also that in Sierra Leone,instead of moving steadily forward,we would be moving steadily backwards?A big disgrace, in these progressive times this President is reducing,and tarnishing the hard-earned credibility,and image of our tiny beloved nation.Folks,what we are witnessing in Sierra Leone presently is a complete collapse of civilization,and a return to a new lawless age of barbarism.

  9. He is now showing his true colours! As the Creole parable goes “monkee nor dae lef im black han”. The British Government will have their hands full trying to rein in this President.

  10. It seems we are dealing with an African with a Napoleon complex, who’s finding it extremely troubling navigating the politics of globalization, which by corollary is also proven him unfittingly capable of producing the promises that were made by him to the people prior to becoming the president. Which I assume it’s a load that is weighing down on him and his credibility as president.

    However, instead of coming to terms with reality, he blames anyone who speaks on any of the shortcomings that the country is faced with. Locking people up for simply being dissent of the illicit prosecutorial behavior that the his government is involved in, is presumably the answer to his governmental failings. But pardon me for I smell distraction.

    Mr. ART, we are lucky to have you based in the UK, because you would’ve definitely been a part of the nice size of “radicals” that are being prosecuted currently in our beloved nation.

  11. Out of thousands of lawyers in Sierra Leone, this is the first time that the CID which is the institution that is responsible for the investigation of any crime have invited or arrested Lawyer Ady Macaulay. Instead of jumping into speedy conclusion, it’s better to allow the process and procedures to work.

    Out of millions of APC members, the CID only arrested and detained suspects that participated in the killing of a journalist during the 2018 presidential election campaign, a former defense minister who carried a loaded gun to the statehouse and someone that is associated with inciting violence against the people of Sierra Leone. They will definitely have their day in court to prove their innocence under this democratic government for 5 years that was duly elected by the majority of the voters. PEACE,LAW AND ORDER MUST PREVAIL.

  12. It’s seems like this country called Sierra Leone is no more a democratic country, because there is no freedom of speech for the citizens of this country. My fellow Sierra Leoneans let us stand strong and fight against this undemocratic rule. Its like this country is now in the hands of the Sierra Leone police officers, and if that is real the game is not fair.

  13. This current administration is a dictatorship – suppressing the media and the opposition as never happened before. Blame game to its finest and failing to inform is a call to uproar and lawlessness.

  14. Has Sierra Leone become a police state or a gangsters state?I t certainly feels like that when you are not allow to express your opinion in fear of being dragged in front of overzealous police officers who it seem are only interested to please their bosses in government. One would have thought our law enforcement have enough going for them like COVID 19 pandemic and how to police the lockdown, than skirting around looking for postings on social media that has got nothing to do with the public health emergency – or indeed the security of Sierra Leoneans.

    It begs the question where this is taking us as a nation? The police is a public body that is there to serve the people – not to be used as an oppressive tool of the government. Every government – whether a dictatorship or a liberal democracy, has an opposition. Without an effective opposition, we might as well pack our bags and call it a day.

  15. Incredible!! It appears these power hungry zealots with a totalitarian mindset will stop at nothing in turning our once peaceful nation into an abyss of chaos. Since when the mentioning of a citizen’s name in an article without any credence to authorship warrant an arrest? It’s now crystal clear that we are being run by a junta regime, having all the hallmarks of the NPRC military coup d’etat.

    It’s about time all patriotic and peace loving Sierra Leonean and the international community stand up against this regime like it was done during the NPRC days. We all owe it to our beloved nation, to preserve its sanctity and peace. Posterity will judge us if we fail to play our respective roles now. The clock is ticking.

  16. Yes, I’m happy that the Telegraph now gives more attention to this case of violating fundamental human and democratic rights in Sierra Leone. For a better future – it needs a fundamental change in your country.

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