From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Politics
Ruling APC Big Guns Named in Political Violence Scandal in Sierra Leone
By Aruna Turay
Feb 22, 2010, 01:27

The ruling All People’s Congress (APC) is presently faced with the enormous task of defending itself from indictments of its operatives being at the forefront of politically motivated violence in the country as a whole and Freetown in particular.

APC operatives including the Mayor of the Freetown Municipality, Herbert George Williams, Close Protection Guard of the President, Idrissa Kamara aka Leather Boot, President’s brother, Sylvanus Koroma and Foday Government Wharf, have been named in the Independent Review Panel (Shears-Moses Commission of Inquiry) as those who spearheaded the 2009 March 13 and 16 deadly attacks on the main opposition party’s headquarters and supporters in Freetown.

They were named as those who bear the greatest responsibilities in the said attacks by senior members of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) during the latter’s testimonies in front of the ‘Violence Commission of Inquiry’ on Friday 19th February 2010 at the Conference Hall of the National Stadium Hostels in Freetown.

National Chairman of the SLPP John Oponjo Benjamin aka JOB told the Inquiry that he received a telephone call from a friend at about 4:00pm on Friday 13th March 2009 informing him about a suspicious crowd around the Wallace Johnson Street Headquarters of the SLPP. "By then I was at my private offices at Charlotte Street" Benjamin disclosed, adding: "I wasted no time in telephoning the party’s National Secretary General Jacob Jusu Saffa and instructed him to investigate the report".

According to JOB, the unsuspected Secretary General replied that there was no cause for alarm as he informed that the crowd was made up of ruling party supporters who were returning from the commissioning of the clock tower.

"Jacob Jusu Saffa furthered that he has already alerted the police to be on the standby in case of any eventuality and that the presence of the police was already visible at the headquarters" he narrated.

John Benjamin said he immediately proceeded to telephone Assistant Inspector General of Police Chris Charlie and informed the latter that the SLPP Headquarters and its supporters were under an attack led by Mayor Hebert George Williams, when he received the said information from a nephew.

"The SLPP Headquarters which was left to the mercy of APC partisans suffers massive vandalisation" he revealed, whilst explaining that Vice President Sam Sumana invited him on Saturday 14th March 2009 for a discussion on the issue.

According to him, he was informed at the said meeting that the APC led Government of Sierra Leone has decided to close the two political parties radio stations for security reasons.

"Prior to the meeting with the VP, I visited wounded SLPP victims at the hospital" JOB affirmed, adding that he received an intelligence on Sunday 15th March 2009 that Idrissa Kamara aka Leather Boot and others were planning to attack the SLPP Headquarters again on Monday 16th March 2009; a report which he wasted no time in relaying to Vice President Sam Sumana.

"The VP assured me nothing of such will happen" JOB explained, adding: "True to the intelligence, the party’s headquarters was attacked plus our supporters being subjected to merciless beatings and rapes".

SLPP’s Western Area Chairman Lansana Fadika explained that he was at the party’s headquarters on the Friday of the first attack. "Through the window, I saw a large group of women processing towards the main entrance of the SLPP Headquarters and I was able to prevail on them to continue their procession by using the other route to the Mayor’s City Council Offices in a bid to avert chaos" he pointed out.

Lansana Fadika furthered that his advice for a diversion of route to the large group of supporters headed by President Koroma’s brother, Sylvanus Koroma and Mayor Herbert George Williams was met with stiff and arrogant resistance by the leaders of the group.

"Mayor Williams arrogantly replied that he is the city father and has the right to use any route he desires" Mr Fadika pointed out, whilst informing that it was during the said discussion that stones and other dangerous missiles started materializing from the group of APC supporters.

According to Fadika, efforts to get Sylvanus Koroma to help in restoring calm proved unsuccessful and rather worsen the situation.

"Sylvanus Koroma proceeded to introduce me to the crowd as a strong member of the SLPP who wanted to disrupt their procession" Fadika alleged, whilst explaining how he narrowly escaped the attack with the aid of a friend who escorted him to the police CID after suffering deep wounds on his head and other parts of the body.

SLPP’s Deputy National Chairman, National Secretary General, and National Young Generation Leader, Dr. Kadie Sesay, Jacob Jusu Saffa and Mallam Janneh respectively, also testified in front of the Commission of Inquiry; testimonies of which Foday Government Wharf was severally named as one of the leaders of the attacks.

The Independent Review Panel was adjourned to today Monday 22nd February 2010.

The Independent Review Panel was set up to look into political disturbances that took place in Freetown and other parts of the country.



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