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.