Sierra Leone opposition leader invited for questioning by police for exercising freedom of speech

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 December 2021:

Dr Dennis Bright, Chairman and Leader of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party, has today 7th December 2021, been invited by the Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police for questioning, after speaking live on national Radio  98.1FM about the forthcoming Mid-term Census, which President Bio announced a few weeks ago will start on the 10th December 2021.

The Mid-term census is hugely unpopular among opposition parties, who are accusing the government of wanting to use the results of the mid-term census to redraw constituency boundaries in advance of the 2023 general and presidential elections for party-political advantage.

The main opposition APC party is calling on its supporters to boycott the census.

According to a statement issued by the NGC party this evening, Dr Dennis Bright will be accompanied to the Police tomorrow by his lawyers.

“Supporters and members are advised to remain calm as we hope that the Police will conduct their interview in accordance with due process of law,” the statement reads.

You can listen to a recording of the full interview of Dr Dennis Bright on Radio  98.1FM:

7 Comments

  1. Joseph Stalin for all his faults cannot be compared to a village tribalist like Bio.
    He is a tin pot dictator enabled by another wannabe, Ernest Koroma.
    Let us not forget, it was the greed, stupidity and nepotism of the chairman that brought Bio to state house.

  2. Let’s dial down the rhetoric on this midterm census, Ladies and Gentlemen and move on. The opposition is lagging politically behind the SLPP because they don’t want to field in the right men and women that would give president Bio a tough time in 2023. Are they waiting for the international community to come and say, President Bio, you got 48.6% of the vote, and Mr opposition candidate got 48.61% of the vote? So Mr Opposition candidate has won? No way! Elect candidates that would defeat President Bio at least 5% above the margin of errors. The moment they do that, you will see things change rapidly. President Bio will win the next general elections if the opposition field in presidential candidates who challenged him in the last election. Presently, their only strategy is complaining to the international community and hoping that they will help. In my view, many Sierra Leoneans will prefer to work with President Bio in good faith if he wins the next election.

    Why not rapidly nominate leaders who have the capacity and ability to defeat president Bio in the next elections. It’s not too late, my brothers and sisters. Abuse and personal attacks will not play the trick. President Bio, the SLPP, and their commentators have the upper hand everywhere if you watch closely. Read all the forums and see all the discussions about Sierra leone around the globe and judge for yourself. How for heaven’s sake, President Bio is doing well with all the problems surrounding him. Think of the Fatima Bio, the Auditor General, the midterm census, and other scandals. Nothing changes except complaining to the international community. Sierra Leoneans do not need the international community to help if the opposition parties honestly choose the right leaders as flagbearers. President Bio will relinquish power if he is defeated.

    Here are some of the points I believe the opposition should have raised and discussed when president Bio was trying to conduct the midterm census in the baby stage. UNFPA – Discuss with them to get more information about the legality of the midterm census. NCRA – Talk about the work the NCRA has already done and explain to the population that the midterm census will be the same job. NEC – Discuss the interference of the NEC as regards voter registration. I believe that the voter registration element of this midterm census is creating this problem. I hope it was not part of it. Midterm Census: Inform and explain to the citizens of Sierra Leone why the midterm census should not take place because a census was carried out in 2015 and that this midterm census is unnecessary. It’s a repetition of the NCR exercise.

    Talk about cartographic mapping and boundary limitation and why these will benefit the SLPP. Inform Sierra Leoneans that the midterm census plan was not in the initial framework of the ministry of planning. Finally, explain why the gadgets from Kenya will not be compatible with Sierra Leone’s applications. They failed to discuss these critical points, and now, they are crying foul and complaining. By the way, President Bio has the absolute right to conduct this midterm census. However, the minister of planning will be held responsible if he misled President Bio on the midterm census issue because they suspended the midterm census many times due to flawed reasons. My position is clear. Go and be counted, and we will discuss the rest later. God bless the Republic of Sierra Leone, and my truce with President Bio continues. Yeah.

  3. There is a thin line between freedom of speech and incitement. That’s why even former President Donald Trump’s Twitter and Facebook accounts were suspended and he will soon face the Congress. Even his supporters are currently answering questions before the January 6 committee.

  4. I agree with you completely, Mr Santhikie Sorie. Bio’s Sierra Leone is fast becoming a Stalinist nightmare: a police state where the free expression of opinion inherent in a democracy worth that name, is anathematised to the point that paradoxically, it can cost you your freedom or worse. Dr Bright has every right as a citizen and leader and chairman of a political party to air his views clear and loud, that is, without let or hindrance; without being subjected to police intimidation, molestation and arrest.

    Dr Bright is a well-respected citizen, an intelligent and peaceful politician, who is committed to the welfare of his fellow compatriots, evidenced by the very detailed accounts he often provides of the debilitating impact Bio’s economic policies have had on ordinary men, women and children. Dr Bright is no threat whatsoever to anyone, except perhaps to those in positions of authority culpable of political skulduggery: those who have questionable political schemes/stratagems to hide and are thus incensed by what he says on the airwaves.

    Dr Bright is beyond clear on radio. If anyone needs to explain what they have done, it is the Inspector General of Police himself and the institution he leads. Their subservience to the powers that be make them willing agents of the current government and its leader in their attempt to silence and coercively so, people brave enough to call out the political motives behind their decisions and policies. Rather than politicising the police and getting that institution to do their dirty job, Bio and his administration should themselves take to the airwaves and refute Dr Bright’s assertions. Let the public then decide freely who to trust.

  5. ” To be educated is one thing and to be enlightened is another”. For God sake, how can a man with a doctorate degree go on aire and say such a thing about our Mid term census which according to him, he himself had no knowledge of census. If I were him, I would have done a thorough research about the word census and what constitutes to need of conducting a census. Perhaps acted only on his own personal interest rather than the interest of mama Salone.

    The other thing that I do not really see relevant is the issue raised by some members of the opposition about this census. For God sake if government wants to count our total population in the country as and when neccessary there should be no objection to it. This is because, every government has a plan for its population as at the time that party is in governance. So why raise temper? Why the incitement against the process? Why?

    I am encouraging all Sierra Leoneans to please ensure that they are counted. This is a direct benefit for you the individual and development to the nation.

  6. State House, Freetown Wednesday 28th October 2020, in the presence of invited dignitaries, SLAJ president, government ministers, civil society groups and members of the diplomatic corps,and all stakeholders, President Bio signed in to law, putting an end to the 55 year old seditious libel section of the public Order Act 1965,that criminalised freedom of speech and stifled journalism. At the time it was hailed as a new beginning for freedom of speech for the citizens of Sierra Leone. And Bio himself went on to say”:I have always argued that the repeal will unshackle free speech and expand democracy “And to emphasised his point, just so everyone is in the loop about what he is talking about, that is not the calabashes of poyooh wine marking the celebrations of his selfless act, to have corruptted his brains,” Bio went on to say.

    In its Global Expression Report 2019-2020,The state of freedom of expression around the world, Sierra-leone has been ranked by the global organisation Articles 19,among the top five countries in Africa for facilitating and supporting freedom of expression. It is an acclamation well-deserved and a moment of inspiration to aspire to do more. And that is why we are here “. Now one has to live in a different planet, to think this is the same country, headed by the same president, ordering the arrest of Dr Bright one of the opposition leaders in the country. The reason we have an opposition, is to scrutinies and oppose government policies. Sometime they might agree or in some cases disagree. Dr Bright is just doing his job.He is not a bank manager, no does he speaks, or advocate violence. Never have been and never will be.

    The census call into questions what is the primary motive behind it.? Dr Bright and his party, he heads have more to worry about, if as a result of the census , the SLPP government decides to pressure the electoral commission to redraw constituency boundaries, that will have adverse effects to smaller parties like Dr Bright’s,NGC to the number of seats they will get in the next parliament. The story is the same even for bigger parties like the APC . Bio’s ultimate goal here, is to deny the opposition a majority of seats in the next parliament. Last time, it was done publicly and in a brutal fashion.. When Ten APC elected members were forced out of parliament, by the Sierra Leone police. No one wants a repeat of that shameful episode. So Bio is pulling his rabbit out of his magic hat in a subtle way. He might have take the long route, but the destination is the same.

  7. This is another revelation that we are into a Stalinist era in Sierra Leone, where freedom of speech is a crime. Sovula,the so-called inspector-general of police, has assumed the role of Lavrenty Beria, who possessed a rubberstamp copy of Joseph Stalin’s signature, which he used to arrest, torture and kill perceived enemies of his boss [Stalin], whether they were real or not. Indeed thousands of Russians lost their lives this way.

    Maada Bio has become the Stalin of our country. His regime is showing signs of nervousness,loss of control and in retreat, having lost popularity with a good chunk of the population calling for their dispatch to heavens knows where. They now see enemies everywhere, even from a small party like NGC which has just started finding its footing and gaining momentum throughout the country.

    The trouble is, Dr Bright is too bright for SLPP – well spoken, intelligent and afraid of no one. What else can be responsible for the ill-trained Sovula to invite the gentleman for questioning just because he gave his candid opinion on radio regarding the mid-term census? Maada Bio is in a free fall, and there is no one ready to catch him. The international community has become just as sick of him. Does he have any real friends left other than the toadies who now surround him, and who will bail out at the earliest opportunity before they are netted by a succeeding government?

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