PUAWUI DR SAMA BANYA: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 June 2019:
“The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) is concerned about the incident of 31st May, 2019 between the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and supporters of the All Peoples Congress (APC), which took place at the APC Party headquarters Old Railway Line, Freetown.
“This incident led to injuries, arrests and detention. HCRSL monitored the incident and observed that the police fired rubber bullets and teargas directly into the APC headquarters while supporters were inside the building.
“HCRSL also observed that APC supporters barricaded roads, burnt tyres around the APC party office and pelted stones at police officers. HRCSL condemns the actions of both parties, which prevented others from enjoying the right to free movement…….”.
Of the many statements and commentaries that I have read or heard from various sources and there have been many, including even from our own Umaru Fofana, with the exception of his today’s opinion in Politico, this one from the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone appears to me to be the most impartial, unbiased and one that is free from exaggeration.
In every previous report of police brutality against the SLPP, there has never been any which says that the attacks were in reaction to SLPP lawlessness or attack on the police.
One sees demonstrations in almost every part of the world these days as people’s way of exercising their democratic rights where free speech and free assembly prevail. Many times such demonstrations have turned ugly as seen on the streets of Paris and in other French cities. (Photo Below: Police in France respond to violent protest).
I have seen incidents on my TV screen where demonstrators have been manhandled before being forcibly carted away in police vehicles. Quite a few have been deadly as in the Sudanese capital Khartoum only a couple of days ago, in which 60 unarmed and peaceful demonstrators or more lost their lives. (Photo Below: Police in Spain respond to violent protest).
Many African capitals have not been spared either. It is all very sad. And while one sympathises with the victims of such incidents for such acts of brutality, one cannot help but wonder why matters degenerate to that level.
Having said this, I will go back to the current incident at Old Railway line. I served in former President Siaka Stevens’ government for eight years. One of his favourite expressions over similar incidents was usually, “WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?”
And it is here that I have problem with many of the one-sided positions that many have taken on the Old Railway line incident. To them, it is all the fault of the Sierra Leone Police. But is it a fair comment Why have none of the critics, who when it comes to any matters even indirectly connected with the ruling SLPP, tend to be very sanctimonious in their commentaries?
Why has no commentator or critic followed up the story that a renegade OSD officer may have fired tear gas from within the APC headquarters?
The APC has up to date, failed to acknowledged that they lost the Presidential election to the SLPP’s Julius Maada Bio. They have, both locally and from the Diasporas thrown everything at him, including fabricated stories and placards.
For days they were asking their supporters to come out, not to sit quietly in their headquarters but to take to the streets and interfere with the human rights of the rest of the population.
Why was there, neither has there been any condemnation or even reference to the various inciting statements from the APC Secretary General Ambassador Yansaneh?
I did not hear him; but many who did, have confirmed to me that the APC publicity Secretary Cornelius Devaux (I always thought he was Daveneux) was on a radio programme using both vulgar and inciting language which is believed to have directly influenced the behaviour of the APC mob.
There has been no interest in that aspect, except in the police action, and like I said at the same time indirectly wanting to make a scapegoat of the SLPP.
And here, let me sound a note of caution to my former distinguished nephew, Ernest Bai Koroma. He could with one movement or statement put an end to all this by simply taking a back seat rather than continue to behave as if he is still in State House.
I was with former President Kabbah in Kumasi, Ghana for the tenth anniversary of the ascension of the Asanthene. He was one of three previous heads of state or Prime Ministers who delivered statements in an overcrowded Auditorium. He nearly brought the roof down with applause when he ended his statement with, “There is life after State House!”
Whither the Sierra Leone Bar Association
About three years ago, President Ernest Bai Koroma sacked his Vice President Alhajie Sam Sumana, who had been his running mate on the ballot ticket. It was for a flimsy excuse. Even the pro-APC members of the Sierra Leone Bar Association as well as ordinary lay people, could see that it was constitutionally wrong.
The Bar Association remained conspicuously silent; they did nothing, not even in the way of condemnation or of legal opinion.
The same President Ernest Bai Koroma decided, and I have to admit wisely, that the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone needed amendment in some parts, including the Public Order Act. He set up a Commission under the chairmanship of the distinguished former Judge and Speaker of Parliament – the late Justice Edmund Cowan.
After countrywide consultations, the Cowan Constitution Review Commission (CRC), submitted its report to the President. The members of the Commission were unanimous in their recommendations.
Those who were privy to its content also commended the chairman and his members, whom included many prominent members of the ruling APC.
President Koroma never presented the Report to Parliament for ratification or amendment, because he wanted the insertion of a clause that would justify his sacking of V P Sam Sumana as well as to allow him a third term as President.
Instead, Koroma got his party members of the Commission to write and withdraw their signature from the original document. Justice Cowan stood his ground and up to the time of his death he would have none of it.
Did the leadership of the Bar Association make any comment? The answer is no.
In the 2012 Parliamentary elections, one of the Association’s own colleagues – Ansu Lansana Esq. was petitioned in the High court. The Presiding Justice Showers nullified Lansana’s election and ordered the runner-up to take the seat. Although the Bar Association saw it as a bad judgement it did nothing.
Now that ten APC Members of Parliament have lost their seats, the presiding Judges citing precedent, the Bar Association have come out saying that the 2012 judgement was faulty.
Would they by that, want Ansu Lansana to be declared winner; and if so, to what purpose? Does the Association have to sound so sanctimonious now?
My submission, with utmost respect Learned ladies and gentlemen – fudge!.