Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 September 2022:
There was chaotic standoff at the Freetown City Council yesterday afternoon when scores of armed police officers moved in to arrest the Lord Mayor – Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, who according to a police notice is wanted for questioning over allegations of disruptive behaviour at a police station two weeks ago.
According to reports, Assistant Inspector General of Police – Brima Jah who is head of the operation, along with the Head of the Criminal investigation department arrived at the Office of the Mayor to deliver a letter “inviting the mayor for questioning” at the Criminal Investigations Department.
According to the letter, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr is wanted for questioning in response to an allegation of “obstructing police duties and disorderly behaviour in a police station”.
An unconfirmed statement from Mayor Aki-Sawyerr seen by the Sierra Leone Telegraph last night, reads: “My lawyers came, and the police handed over an invitation for me to report to the Criminal Investigations Division tomorrow (Friday, 30th September) at 10am. I am to be questioned in relation to “obstructing police work and disorderly behaviour at a police station”.
“This allegedly happened on 17th September when Councillor Sheku Turay was arrested at Lungi Airport. My lawyers have written back to the police asking that the interview be rescheduled for Monday. Interviews that are conducted on Fridays usually result in bail not being granted and detentions over the weekend. We are waiting to get a response from the police to that request.”
For millions of Sierra Leoneans across the country and outside, the pending arrest and incarceration of Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr is a concerted and well-orchestrated political ploy by President Bio to silence and remove Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr from office.
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr is a leading figure in the country’s main opposition APC party that lost the 2018 elections to the Bio-led SLPP party by a narrow three percentage points, which the APC are hoping to regain at the polls in just under twelve months.
This heavy-handed police action and continuous harassment by the government, come days after Mayor Aki-Sawyerr arrived back in Freetown with over a Million Dollars from the Bloomberg Foundation to help with the development of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown.
Since her election as Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr has attracted tens of millions of dollars from the international community into the country, which the ruling SLPP regard as a threat to their ambition to take over political control of the capital Freetown.
Just hours before the police moved in to effect their arrest, the relentlessly hardworking and development focused Mayor Aki-Sawyerr posted this on Twitter: “About to start Freetown City Council’s monthly Council Meeting. The work to #TransformFreetown goes on.”
How hopeful are the APC of winning the next election in twelve months time when they are in such a disarray? Talk of believing in miracles?
Mr George Lavalie, with all due respect ,you asked a rhetorical and familiar question that has been with us since before and after independence. That was when the seeds of identity or tribal politics was sowed in our national political discourse .It is deep rooted and has been a major stumbling block to our national development aspiration .The twin evil of tribalism and corruption has to greater extent played and continue to play to the drum beats of this divisions we debate about today .The die was cast when we had our first elections of 1967 and the winning candidate of the APC ,Saika P Stevens was denied taking office by the intervention of republic of Sierrac Leoen force commander Bregediar General David Lansana.He and the tribalistic elements of the armed forces, took over the reins of government to stop Stevens and the opposition APC take power in favour of the then sitting prime Minister Sir Albert Margia of the SLPP .later when Col.Andrew Juxton -Smith removed him and formed the National Reformation Council military government , he bemoaned how he is going to stamp out tribalism in our national political discourse . That was in the late sixties and here we are in 2022 still talking about the same problem stalking our country ..It goes to show how far we have advanced on that front .That in itself is the first time we experienced the violation of our independence constitution .
You can dressed it up how you want but that is failing to obey the laws of the land as written in the constitution, the peaceful transfers of power from the sitting government to the opposition once they lost the will of the people .Fast forward to 2020 , when Dr Slyvia Bylden was arrested and detained for more than the required time as written in our constitution. No citizen should be detained or denied their freedom for more than 72 hours with out being either charged with crime or release by the police .I stand to be corrected but she spent 54 days detained with murderers and criminals of all strips before she was released .Thanks to the intervention of the American and British embassies .Former President Koroma might have populated his cabinet with Northerners. So is the present president with majority of the make up of his cabinet coming from his tribes men and women .Bio was on record to say he only employ the people he knows .
For President that says will govern for all and help bring people together is a damming indictment .This is the tit-for-tat politics that has hampered any national cohesion and economic growth, in our country. Bio have broken every law of the land in going after the krio community .The land issues in Freetown is the front line of this fight. That is where the laws to private ownership has been tossed aside for the benefit of Bio and all those who have connection with his government. Unless we collectively acknowledge this tribal and regional divide in our country , we will continue be a Banana Republic. So where are the laws in all this? Who is above and who is below the laws of the land ?
When would Sierra Leoneans begin to respect laws in their country? A lot has been written about the abused of authority from the opposition by the Bio government. In divergence, most have set a blind eye or play host to the abused of authority by a political tribalistic mayor; whose action should’ve been condemned for attempting to obstruct police enforcing their legal duty. Those who are preaching for respect of laws must be sincere in their assertion and not be politically blind folded!
My question is, why the Maada Bio’s SLPP government like to abuse women who are doing good in our political affairs when it comes to the development of the country, especially the opposition women. Locking them in jail and brutalize them? Now look at his wife Fatima Bio is destroying our democracy and spending our money on her children; travelling all over the world, showing off on social media with a bag full of dollars and pounds.
Can you close your eyes for moment and just think the unthinkable , the Mayor is arrested , and manhandled by this hoodlum of police officers led by the Assistance inspector General of police Brimah Jah , another useful idiot appointed by Bio to carry out his bidding .”What’s Going on? if I can paraphrase Marvin Gaye the song was produced in the 70s after the Los Angeles Watts riots 1965 , against police brutality. The 10th of August bloody Wednesday demonstrations didn’t happened at the spore of the moment events that overwhelmed the leaderless Sierra Leone police force, but the actions of Bio and his government that created the toxic mix of using or weaponising the police force for party political purposes. And this culture of distrust that Bio have nurtured and cultivated have now turned a once independent public body whoes role is constitutionally defined as to “Prevent , combat and investigate crime :maintain public order :and secure the inhabitants of Sierra Leone and their property :and uphold and enforce the law.”
Since taking office ,the only thing that has being consistent with Bio , he has been consistent in harassing his political opponents .And majority of those that found themselves at the receiving end of Bio’s vendetta politics are leading females politicians and public servants from the krio community .If this targeting of leading public servants was happening in for example the Fulani or Temene or Limba or Mende tribes it would have caused national uproar .Where is the condemnations from the national press ?Where is our religious elders that likes to preach peace after violent episodes but never a word from them when Bio and his ilk is sowing the seeds that leads to violence in our country . Arresting the popular Mayor is no way of encouraging peace in our county .And this has been the pattern of Bio .From Dr Bylden , Dr Femi Cole , former Auditor General Lara Taylor-Pearce , Dr Bright , and Ms Pricilla Schwartz the first woman to serve as Attorney General Minister of justice.
So since 2018 , and in the absence of a strong APC opposition , the only person within that party that is juggling two jobs here as Mayor of Freetown and delivering her promises to her people that elected her at the same time by default acting as the main opposition leader outside the Wells of parliament , and holding Bio’s feet on fire is Mrs Akin Swayer .As we heads for the 2023 elections , we will see more of this politically motivated attacks on the personality of the Mayor . And she is not even a presidential candidate .After the riots the Bio government blamed it on her .More like this accusations she is facing is just dusted of the shelf and was ready to spring to action once she got back from her successful international travel .I hope the international community is watching at events .Bio is desperate and he is the worst president our country have had in recent years .His records speaks for itself. Is this the way he hopes to attract foreign direct investment in our country by jailing our internationally renowned Mayor ?
Indirectly, Sierra Leone is still under military rule, facilitated by constructive tribalism and witch hunt. To write broadly to substantiate this statement, would require a wider reflection on the creation of the A P C. But, snake is snake, you can never disallow it from crawling even if danger is coming.