Rioting at Sierra Leone’s opposition APC office as party loses election petitions

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 May 2019:

A peaceful protest and demonstration organised by Sierra Leone’s main opposition APC party has today turned ugly, as violence erupted outside the party’s office in Freetown, where crowds of supporters had gathered in their red party colours to protest against what the party describes as unfair treatment from the government as well as abuse of power – allegations the government denies.

Two days ago, the opposition APC called on its members and supporters to come out to the streets dressed in red, marking two days of protest. “Tomorrow Thursday 30th and Friday 31st May respectively, has been declared A RED DAY BY OUR PARTY leadership. All comrades are kindly requested to put on our dynamic APC party’s traditional RED AND WHITE on Thursday and Friday as a  form of solidarity to our APC party and our beloved mama Salone”. This is what the official announcement said:

But in response, the deputy internal affairs minister – Lahai Lawrence Leema, issued a stern warning against the planned APC protest, saying that those organising the protest will bear the greatest responsibility should the peace and harmony of the public be breached.

“It is hoped that the APC leadership keeps the conduct of their membership in shape. If anyone of their member relies on the vague and fictious claims the APC leadership is making to justify any form of lawless behaviour and venture into perfecting any lawless conduct in any part of this country, the law shall bite with the seriousness it deserves.

“The APC  must take notice that this government is busy fixing up the mess they left behind and rebranding the battered image of the country we inherited from them. Hence, the APC leadership is unequivocally admonished to desist from any form of subversive threat or act. As any such act amounts to disturbing the president’s peace. Let it be noted that such act will be addressed with the seriousness it deserves. You are warned,” warned Lahai Lawrence Leema – Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs

The capital Freetown was calm yesterday Thursday, with just a handful of supporters out in the streets dressed in red, including the former president Ernest Bai Koroma.

But today, serious violence erupted in what has been described as “another showdown at the OK  Corral”, as riot police arrived at the APC party office in Brookfields this lunchtime to quell what they said was fast becoming a public disturbance, with stones and other missiles being thrown at the police, to which they responded with volleys of teargas.

Several APC supporters were arrested, including the APC party publicity secretary – Cornelius Deveaux, who managed to escape.

There are no reports so far of serious injuries or fatalities, as the police continue to restore calm. But the situation remains tense and very fluid.

Today’s protest by the APC has been timed to coincide with this morning’s High Court seating, where petitions against 12 members of parliament of the APC party, who won seats at the March 2018 general elections, were decided by Judges. And when the decisions came, they were met with angry protest by senior APC executives and supporters demonstrating at the party office.

Reporting on the scene at the High Court today, BBC’s Umaru Fofanah said:  “Dramatic and unprecedented rulings by two High Court judges in Sierra Leone today have disqualified 10 opposition APC party parliamentarians. Nine of their seats have automatically gone to the ruling SLPP party with one to be rerun. It followed petitions by the ruling party against 16 of them on allegations of rigging, violence and receiving salaries from the consolidated revenue fund less than a year to the March 2018 elections. (Photo above: APC strongman – Publicity Secretary Conelius Deveaux, among those arrested  for riotous behaviour but managed to escape).

“A lawyer defending the disqualified MPs, Africanus Sesay told me that they would appeal the decisions of the judges as well as go to the Supreme Court to argue that the courts lacked the jurisdiction to rule because the four-month period within which to do so had elapsed. Lawyer for the ruling party, Musa Mewa says the rulings are “partially satisfactory”.

“On the matter of the four-month period having elapsed, he said that was a non-issue because lawyers for the opposition had raised preliminary objections which had dragged the case. With today’s ruling, and as things stand, the SLPP have 58 seats, the APC 57 with two by-elections due to the rerun ordered today and a deceased MP. NGC party have four seats, and C4C have 8. There are also 14 traditional leaders representing the 14 geographical districts. Meanwhile the APC say that 33 petitions they filed against the SLPP have still not been listed for hearing.”

Results of key political battle grounds read out at today’s petition hearing, are quite shattering for the opposition APC – losing its majority in parliament, as the ruling SLPP now takes over the following seats:

Ahmed Joseph Kanu – Constituency 108; Rev Horace Vicent – Constutuency 111; Emmanuel Sahr Gbekie – Constituency 116; Tennyson Hindolo Sandy – Constituency 120; Abdul Muniru Lansana  – Constiutuency 121; Alieu Ibrahim Kamara Constutuence 122; John T Koroma – Constituency  127; Benjamin Turay – Constutuency 128; Abdulai S Morray Conteh – Constutuency 130.

Live report received from AYV TV in the last few minutes, says that parliament is now swearing-in the following Members of Parliament who today won petition cases in the High Court:

Abdul S. Murray-Conteh SLPP will replace Osman Timbo APC in Constituency 130; Abdul M. Lansana SLPP will replace Ahmed Mansaray APC in Constituency 121; Alieu I. Kamara SLPP will replace Mohamed S. Karim-Carew APC in Constituency 122;  Benjamin Turay SLPP will replace Abu Bakarr F. Sillah APC in Constituency 128; John Telso Koroma SLPP will replace Sirajin M.R. Kamara APC in Constituency 127.

After today’s swearing in ceremony of new MPs, SLPP will now have 58 Seats (Majority), APC 57 Seats (Minority), NGC 4 Seats, C4C 8 Seats and PCMPs 14 Seats respectively, says AYV.

It is also understood that those found guilty today of electoral fraud, having failed to resign their public service jobs before registering to contest the 2018 elections as required by law, have been ordered to repay all the salaries received back to the state.

These are some of the scences witnessed today:

 

 

 

16 Comments

  1. Ladies and gentlemen let’s be clear that nobody is above the law. As for me what is happening to APC today I am happier than ever. Ernest Koroma APC killed our spirit since his unlawful removal of the country’s legitimate vice president, CHIEF SAM SUMANA. There are two people that APC has to get rid of, in order for them to become again the real APC. (1)Ernest Bai Koroma (2) Osman Foday Yansaneh.

    The former president is the leader and chairman of APC forever. Are all the APC members illiterates or what? koroma was eager to remove Sam Sumana because he wanted to sit his fool Limba brother Dr. Kamara. I used to be a diehard APC but now not, since the removal of Sam Sumana, and I will quit Sam Sumana also if he continues to associate with Koroma.

    Guess what 2023 APC will have no representatives in parliament because of Koroma and Foday Yansaneh, sec. general for APC.

    • Sheku, this is not an issue of CHIEF SAM Sumana here. PEOPLE are talking about POLICE BRUTALITY and GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. We are not talking about the POLITICAL side of things. It’s pure and simple broad daylight HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. Not APC or SLPP SAGA.

      So, let’s take out the issue of CHIEF Sam Sumana out of this VARIABLE/EQUATION. Nobody is going to DISTRACT PEOPLE’S attention from this act of BARBARIC POLICE BRUTALITY. It must be condemned and the appropriate AXES dropped. Did you watch the VIDEO? It is sometimes DISGUSTING to see people trying to call DARK WHITE AS WHITE. Read my thoughts. DISCUSS/ARGUE. Some of us will not allow people to be using the name of this well RESPECTED, DILIGENT and POWERFUL POLITICIAN for their CHEAP POLITICAL ARGUMENTS. REPLY.

  2. Finally Sierra Leone has a functional government. The judiciary is now operating independently and equal rights and justice is now paramount in order to consolidate the peace and democracy we are now enjoying. Thanks to the Almighty because the rampage in some isolated spots in Freetown is not between the APC (Red) and the SLPP (green) but between the APC and itself – since they are now in a state of confusion and anarchy.

    The police whose main responsibility is to maintain law and order was left with no other option but to step in to restore order. I hope and pray that the APC party will soon realize that Violence is not the best option in resolving courts battles. Let them allow peace to reign.

  3. I sincerely hope everyone is now fully aware that the SLPP is not here to govern and rule in peace, but intent on promoting chaos and anarchy! And with the brazen robbery of 9 parliamentary seats from us – the trumpet declaring the beginning of war has already been blown and battle lines have now been strategically drawn. We are prepared for whatever it is to come.

    This is exactly one of the reasons why Sierra Leone is stagnated and cannot move forward because its legs are stuck in the muddy waters of poor judgement, and her eyes are blinded by small-mindedness and the feelings of impunity that comes with undeserved power.

    The parochial attitudes of the SLPP would only spell disaster for this nation. Genuine progress can never be attained through dishonest and underhanded ways. They shouldn’t and must not be allowed to get away with such an act that resembles discreet and muffled rape in all its despicable forms.

    And although now drunk with power, they shouldn’t forget that we are far more intelligent and competent than they will ever be! And to make things worse for them, next time the APC assumes power the brightest minds will be deeply involved, and I guarantee you the SLPP will never see the keys to State House ever again, unless of course Almighty God makes it so.

    Against all prudent advice, warnings and arguments, they still refused to listen, but stubbornly chose the fiery, burning path of discord as befitting of their hateful agendas to tread upon. …. Rising sun Will Rise Again.

    • I hope that you will be the first to leave the comfort of your home in the West to go to the trenches to fight. When I moved to the Netherlands in 1995, I stayed in the same Block as the son of Roosevelt Johnson. He was already in the west when his father became Rebel leader. He is now in the UK.

      Is that what you want to do to stay in Europe with your family, while you instigate Sorie to give his son to fight for you? No body fought, just as people did not fight when in yesteryears the decision favoured the APC to get two free seats in parliament.

    • Saidu Conteh, if you want to retain seats in parliament, you must win the elections genuinely. Breaking the law for party gains is illegal in Sierra Leone. The law was very clear – an individual running for public office must not receive a salary from the government consolidated funds within one year of the elections. The only exceptions made were for the President, Vice President and Attorney General. I stand to be corrected. As usual the APC never respected the law. So, they must pay the price.

      Additionally, party members barricading the streets in a show of solidarity for lawless politicians is just as bad. My advice to you is to lecture your APC brothers and sisters about the primacy of the rule of law in Sierra Leone. If they break the law, they will find themselves in the back of a police truck in handcuffs.

  4. The time will come when APC will know that they ought to know better. Conelius Deveoux must be arrested because he has always been inciting violence.

    • Francis, let me kindly correct you. Some people have been calling for the arrest of former President Koroma and now, you are calling for the arrest of Colenius Deveneau. I mean, it’s just crazy. That will just inflame the situation further. What is needed now, is to tone down the RHETORIC and find tangible solutions to move forward.

      No one will win if there is CHAOS AND ANARCHY in the country. It happened yesterday in FREETOWN but it can spread. These are dangerous times. However, I respect your views.

  5. We can see a clear division between Temnes from North-west and Mendes from the South-East. There is a believe now that the APC is for the Temnes and SLPP is for Mendes. These are the major tribes in Sierra Leone. whatever the APC does good or bad the majority of the Temnes will see it as good and whatever the SLPP does good or bad the majority of the Mendes will see it as good.

    It is originated from our politicians, a very sad thing. To confirm my statement, check the appointments and recruitments in government offices during the reign of each political party. The politics of much said about what goes around comes around is it the answer for our country’s development?

    Mr Mandela would have killed all those that imprisoned him after he got the presidency in South Africa but he said “I paid the price to free South Africa”. What a man to emulate! Our current president called for peace and cohesion. My question is, what will he sacrifice for the peace?

    As a Christian, and the president also belives God gave his only son to be killed in order to make peace with us. Can “what goes around comes around” be the answer to our development? I have heard educated people who should make positive difference toeing the same path.

    Please Mr president and all your followers, ask this question always before you act: Was it right what the APC did yesterday or wrong? If it is wrong, and I am sure you condemned it yesterday, abandon it, forgive the past regime and bring Sierra Leoneans together, then I will know how much you love Sierra Leone.

    • John, the falsehood that the APC – SLPP rivalry is a clear tool but dangerous that politicians have been using. When the APC was in power, tell me who were calling the shots? Koroma speaks Temne because he grew up in a Temne speaking town. But he is not a Temne and he said it himself.

      At one point in Koroma’s Government, there were twice as many Krios than Temnes with senior position. I would not even talk about the number of Limbas. Their number tripled any other ethnic group. The person who is calling the shots right now in the SLPP is a Temne.

      The Limbas and Krios have tried to no avail to make the Temnes hate one of thier own. Dr. Abass Bundu wanted the speaker position. The SLPP have done all they could to grant him his wish. Abass is not a Mende but a blue blooded Temne. Kanja Sesay is not a Mende. Sidie Tunis is not a Mende.

      And like president Koroma who benefited by pretending to be a Temne, we all know that Chief Bio – the father of Julius Bio, was not a Mende. President Julius Bio did not have Maada as his middle name when he went to Bo School. He like his mentor -Salia Jusu Sheriff, took his middle name to cement his place as a Mende.

      So please, let politicians fight themselves while they leave us in peace.

  6. Sincerity and honestly is what is needed in such situations. Both sides of the coin must have been looked at and investigated accordingly and in a timely fashion. I reckon everyone knows what I am talking about. Who is now to blame for this ugly mess? THE APC, THE SLPP or THE JUDICIARY? People must know that, its not only war that destroys a country or makes it a FAILED STATE.

    Such acts of violence destroy the country ECONOMICALLY and put the UNITY and COHESION process backwards. Look at what is happening after the BINTUMANI THREE CONFERENCE. DISGRACEFUL! The world will be laughing at us. Would be INVESTORS would just be scared away.

    Worryingly, is it fair to say that the situation becomes the expression – HE WHO LIVES TO FIGHT AND RUNAWAY, LIVES TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY? Would such acts of VIOLENCE be popping up in different FORMS and AREAS? I am deeply worried about such UGLY POLITICAL GAMES taking place in the country.

    It’s time to BACK OFF from such AN EYE FOR AN EYE POLITICAL DRUM BEATING. What happened yesterday would just slow down DEVELOPMENT. The INVESTORS just won’t come. PERIOD. The big PUZZLE now is, how do we move forward?

    • Thanks a lot Aminata. I speak MENDE and TEMNE. So, before I enter politics, I would would just add BUWAH and MPIARI as middle names. Mission accomplished. Very nice TIP. Thanks Aminata for making us laugh and make fun after yesterday’s incident. May the day come when JOKES, FUN, LOVE, PEACE and KINDNESS will PREVAIL in our POLITICS. AMEN AND AMEN and GOD BLESS YOU.

  7. The sooner APC members stopped listening to their leaders the better. The APC leadership is lawless. It has no respect for the rule of law. The ten Members of Parliament that were thrown out of parliament today would never have lost their seats if they were law abiding.

    There is a price to pay for breaking the law. And until APC members accept this, they will always find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

    Confronting the police on the insistence of party leaders is lawless and counterproductive. Ernest Koroma, Osman Yansaneh and Minkailu Mansaray are bad leaders that APC members should stop following. It is not worth getting into trouble for these selfish folks.

  8. And they think nine seats stolen from us through treachery, deceit and shady means will go unnoticed? Sadly mistaken! We will respond accordingly! And let them be reminded, we are masters at this game they want to play…Wait, watch,and see! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  9. What goes around comes around too. The APC thinks they were preaching law before when they petition SLPP and lost the seat at that time. Now they want to disturb the government in clearing the mess they left the country in. Sierra Leoneans across the globe should consider and read along the lines the behavior of this so called APC party that os worth nothing in this country.

    They are only for self benefit not for the nation’s.The country needs to think on development; check in other countries compare notes and see what is missing and God has blessed the nation by providing strong leadership, instead they do not want to recognize him.

    It is up to them whether they love him or not. Bio is here for twenty years and SLPP for 40 years in power. So let;s go and sleep. We in the diaspora have seen their internal interest they have for themselves. Check on the Web and see how much public funds they embazzled. No use at all. But thank to the prezo for his vigilant actions in combating and recovering public funds and bringing them to justice.

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