Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 December 2021:
Sierra Leone police today arrested and detained the Eastern Regional Chairman of the country’s main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) party – Ms Diana Finda Konomanyi and Ms Femi Claudius Cole (Photo above) who is the Chairman of the opposition Unity Party as well as serving as Chairman of the Coalition of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP). Although Diana Finda Konomanyi was later released without charge, Femi Claudius Cole and several others remain locked up in police cell.
Has Sierra Leone become a police state where civil liberty cannot be guaranteed?
Early this evening, Dr. Dennis Bright – Chairman and leader of the opposition National Grand Coalition (NGC) party, who himself was invited to the Police HQ on 7th December 2021 for speaking out against the government’s controversial midterm population census, said he went to speak with Ms Femi Claudius Cole at the CID, who tonight will remain in police custody without charge.
According to Dr Bright, this morning Ms Claudius Cole accompanied Diana Konomanyi of the APC to CID, where she had been invited for questioning regarding a video she made last week, encouraging her Kono people not to take part in the census.
Although Claudius Cole was not herself invited for interrogation by the police, yet she was arrested and detained about statements she too had made about the census.
Ms Claudius Cole is understood to have told the police that, if they were going to interrogate her about statements she had made in the media about the census, they needed to present her with the transcript, video or audio as evidence.
After communication between CID and the Attorney General’s office, it was decided that Ms Claudius Cole should be detained without charge, until the police can find the transcript to corroborate their story, however long it takes.
Dennis Bright said he made some efforts to mediate and have Ms Claudius Cole released, but the authorities were adamant because they feel slighted by her refusal to be interviewed without the transcript. “We are meeting the Attorney General tomorrow morning at 7.30 am,” Dennis Bright said.
Another member of COPPP, APC’s Deputy Organising Secretary – Mr Karamoh Kabba was also arrested today, allegedly for riotous conduct whist in a procession that accompanied Diana Konomanyi to the CID.
But despite a police officer confirming that Mr Kabba was not in the procession, a senior officer named Senessie is said to have ordered his arrested along with several other supporters of Diana Konomanyi.
Mr Kabba and the others have all been charged and will appear in court tomorrow Tuesday.
The government it seems, is determined to crush any form of opposition now in Sierra Leone, especially those political parties belonging to the Coalition of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP), for their determined effort to stop the Mid-term Census, which both the EU and World Bank have withdrawn their support.
According to the opposition parties calling for a boycott of the census, “the census is poorly planned and organised, as well as badly received by the public.”
Opposition parties are accusing the government of using the Mid-term Census as an opportunity to gerrymander the composition of Parliament, by creating new districts and constituencies in SLPP strongholds in the southeast.
Mayor of Freetown – Yvonne Aki-Sawyer (Photo) who went to CID headquarters to speak with Femi Claudius-Cole, explained what happened: “I have just left the CID Police Station where I was visiting Madam Femi Claudius-Cole, Acting Chairperson of the Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP). She went to the CID to accompany Madam Diana Konimany who was invited for questioning in relation to the Mid-Term Census and was then detained. Madam Femi is in good spirits although as I understand it, she has been detained without charge or bail.
“APC Deputy National Organising Secretary Karamoh Kabbah has also been detained. His whereabouts are unknown.”
Since winning the 2018 presidential elections and losing the parliamentary elections, the ruling SLPP has been turning up the political temperature on opposition political parties in rthe country.
The police were accused last month by an EU report of failing to be independent and impartial.