Sierra Leone Police stormed the headquarters of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) yesterday to stop them from staging a masquerade parade in the city in observation of Sierra Leone’s 55th Independence Anniversary because they did not have permission from the Police to make the parade .
In response, SLPP supporters went on the rampage and stoned and destroyed many buildings and parked vehicles. There was a tense moment in the city yesterday and Police were said to have made many arrests.
We bring you the many versions that emerged from yesterday’s ugly events and a report that the Chairman of the SLPP, Chief Somana Kapen, blamed his own party for the chaos and lashed diasporans for fermenting trouble in Sierra Leone.
ATTEMPT TO SUBVERT THE QUIET AND PEACEFUL NATURE OF THE INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY
On the 23rd of April 2016, the leadership of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) notified the Inspector General of Police about commemoration of their 65th Aniversary to be observed with “Thanksgiving Prayer/Service at the Party National Headquarters 15 Walpole Street on Sunday 24th April 2016 at 12:30 pm” and on Wednesday 27th April, 2016, to continue with: 1. Inter-Faith Service, followed by 2. Luncheon Sale and climaxed with 3. Reunion Night.
The SLP was not averse to the request and the IGP’s approval was conveyed to the Director of Administration of the Party but were ‘cautioned to adhere to the provisions of the Public Order Act No. 46 of 1965 ‘which must charactise the conduct of the entire activities/anniversary celebrations.’
POLICE AT THE SLPP HEADQUARTERS
On 26th April 2016, the Inspector General of Police received copy of a letter the SLPP sent to the Ordehlay Union touching on their renewed membership with the Union and their intention to celebrate their 65th anniversary in grand style with Arie Wuteteh coming out on the 27th of April, 2016. In effect, they were requesting the Ordehlay Union to apply to the SLP on their behalf so that they could come out with their mask devil “Arie Wuteteh” as part of their 65th anniversary celebrations.
THE CHAOS AT THE SLPP HEADQUARTERS
Since it was just a copy sent to the Inspector General, we therefore could not have actioned it. Whilst waiting to hear from the Ordehlay Union in respect of the issue, we received from them (Ordehley Union) copies of letters (Inspector General, Director of Operations, Director of Community Relations, Media One) sent to the Director of Administration of the SLPP indicating that, I quote: “our Union is not in position to apply for your Party/Arie Wuteteh as requested due to late arrival of your letter.”
POLICE TEARGAS SLPP HEADQUARTERS TO DISPERSE ROWDY SUPPORTERS
In view of the above, the SLP’s Director of Operations despatched message to the SLPP Director of Administration requesting him to see him at Police Headquarters which he consented to and promised to make it to Police Headquarters by 5 pm. The Director of Operations intended to discuss the issue with him; moreso when the SLP learnt that they were insisting on coming out whether given permit or not.Unfortunately, he did not turn up, as promised, up to 5 pm.
ONE OF THE VEHICLES DAMAGED BY SLPP MOBS
The Director of Ops. did not relent. He called him up almost 2 hours 30 minutes later and lengthily discussed with him on the phone in respect of intelligence received that they were still going to come out despite the fact that Arie Wuteteh had no permit to come out. The SLPP Director of Administration assured the SLP’s Director of Operations that he was going to talk to the membership to abandon the ideas of coming out with Arie Wuteteh after it was made clear to him that if they attempt coming out with their mask devil, the police would stop them. The final promise from the SLPP end was that they were going to do their dancing and singing within their headquarters at 15 Walpole Street.
SLPP SUPPORTERS DESTROYED THIS VEHICLE
Further intelligence received was that when the Chairman and Secretary General of the Ordehlay Union went to despatch the letter of refusal to the SLPP Director of Administration in their office, they were scolded and the Secretary General was seriously roughed-up. That matter is now the subject of police investigation.
ANOTHER VEHICLE DESTROYED BY THE SLPP SUPPORTERS
True to their word, Arie Wuteteh defied the police and came out this morning 27/04/2016 despite repeated warnings. It would interest you to know that they even went straigth to the Central Police Station with the mask devil as a show of defiance and provoking the police to act. The police ordered them to return to base but they were defiant and put up a challenge. Because the police insisted, they went loose and started pelting stones here and there.
Go to the offices of Anti Corruption Commission and see for yourself the destruction caused by these marauding boys/girls. They smashed windscreens and signpost, damaged window panes and even attempted to burn the Freetown City Council but the petrol bomp was quickly put out. There was vigorous and unrelenting attempt to disarm an Operational Support Department (OSD) personnel but he stood his ground and repelled his attackers.
In a nutshell, the SLP had running battles with those insisting on coming out with Arie Wuteteh but the SLP quickly put the situation under control within 45 minutes. There were no reported cases of injuries. So far 28 arrests were made and investigation continues.
Meanwhile, all celebrations in the SLPP Party office are put on hold as police are busy restoring calm in the area.
For your information, the SLP before the Easter celebrations, adopted a policy of working with unions when it comes to issuance of police permits especially for mask devils wanting to process the streets of Freetown; given that their activities were most times associated with violence and other anti social behaviours. As a responsible organisation desirous of maintaining law and order at all times, we thought that we could directly work with recognisable groups of people (unions) whom we could easily fall back on when their are breaches of the Public Order Act and any Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) jointly developed and signed. We have therefore been working with the Ordehlay Union based at Firestone Mountain Cut, Conference of Hunters based at Congo Town and Almalgamated Hunters Society based at Ingham Street, Fourah Bay.
Our working with these Unions especially the Ordehlay Union, largely contributed to the peaceful nature Easter was celebrated despite having more than 25 mask devils processing the streets of Freetown on that day. The policy of coordinating, collaborating and cooperating with Unions is making it possible for them to be part of their own security and the security of the State; thereby making them more accountable to the law for their actions. And in the event they fall short of complying with the MoU jointly developed and signed and non compliance of the Public Order Act. No 46 of 1965, they could be easily reached for questioning.
It is to be further noted that policing in the 21st century has metamorphosed from the traditional police-centered to people- centered; hence the reason behind the adoption of “Local Needs Policing” which is a form of Community Policing that makes it possible for our people to be players in identifying community crimes/problems and then help the police to solve them.
ASP Brima Kamara (Head of SLP Media, Public Relations and Website)
SIERRA LEONE POLICE DISTORT SLPP’s 65th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
By: Lt (Rtd.) Lahai Lawrence Leema
The Sierra Leone Police has started their intimidating tactics again. The SLPP celebrates its 65th anniversary today 27th April 2016. In light of that, the party had written to the SLP informing the Police about its program of activities. Part of the program schedule is celebrating with the SLPP mask called Arie Wutehteh. This has been the customary practice of the SLPP.
It will however interest you to know that the Director of Administration of the SLPP was constantly ennundated with calls from the police hierarchy yesterday 26th April 2016, in order for him to stop the SLPP from celebrating with the Arie Wutehteh mask.
The information about the mask celebrating today 27th April 2016, was first misconstrued by the Police. They thought that it was ‘Abravo’ who has single handedly facilitated the celebration with the mask. In a bid to stop him from celebrating with the mask, a police officer by the name of ASP Musa invited Abravo to the police station, but Abravo did not go there because issues around the mask was the party’s business for which the director of admin had written to inform the police. After a very short while, the director of administration got a call from the Freetown east district chairman of SLPP instructing the director not to move with the mask devil outside the perimeters of the SLPP premises, which is contrary to s.25 of the 1991 Constitution (limiting freedom of movement). The east district chairman Mr. Med K. told the director of admin on a phone conversation that the Odele Union has rejected the Arie Wutehteh from celebrating because they did not meet their traditional rite on time. The traditional rite here is supposed to mean the payment of Le 300,000 and a bottle of wine. The said traditional rite had been fulfilled before many masks which have been given the go ahead by the police.
In reply to Med K, the director of administration told him that was not the right procedure. Once the party had informed the SLP through a formal letter, if there is any discrepancy along the line which requires clarification by the SLP, this should have been in writing for the records, but to talk to Med K. who in turn had to talk to the national party head quarters through cell phone was not administratively correct. As such, he was ignored.
After they learnt that all the traditional ceremonies have been met by the party, they sent the Odele Secretary general who went with a letter to the director of admin. The content of the letter I did not read but according to the director of admin, the letter informed him that the Odele union did not send the name to the SLP for approval because they didn’t meet their obligations.
Meanwhile, the director of admin Alhaji Brima Koroma, told him that as a party, we pass through such ceremonies because we want to show respect to the tradition because we are traditional people as well. But if it is at this nick of time that you are here to tell us that we the ‘Arie Wutehteh’ cannot be granted permission by the SLP because you did not include the name of the arie wutehteh because u as the Secretary general had traveled and on your return you were not updated on anything concerning the arie wutehteh, let me now inform u that as a party, we had met all the traditional rites. Above all, the party had formally written to inform the police on the SLPP 65th anniversary and part of its program of activities is celebrating with the arie wutehteh.
About 5 minutes after he left, a warrant officer from the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces was brought into my office (the PR Office). In my office, he described himself as the “agba” in charge of discipline in the Odele society. He was accorded the due respect in that direction. He went on to explain that AIG Memuna will not allow the arie wuteh mask of the SLPP to celebrate because it was not factored into the list of masks which was sent to the police. I however told him that the party had written to the police about its 65th anniversary celebration. In light of that, he admonished that the party should ensure they maintain discipline and that no political song should be sung. He further advised that the party should try as best to avoid confrontation and go out by 12 pm and end by 6 pm at most. He went further to perform certain rituals at the industry where the mask was prepared. As usual, the normal traditional song was sung.
After he had left in a short while, I got a call from the director of administration informing me that AIG Alshek called him & told him that he sent someone to call him but he did not show up. According to the director, his reply was the procedure was not correct. Besides, he did not see anyone who came to say AIG Alshek was calling him. Director told me further that AIG Alshek threatened him that if the mask comes out today, he will not stop at anything to arrest anyone including the director, instead of assuring the party of their public duty to protect them.
This morning, I got a call from director that there has been an allegation that the Odele Secretary was beaten when he went to convey the letter.
From the forgoing, after all efforts to stop the SLPP mask from celebrating today, perhaps out of fear that they may celebrate with the new album of Emmerson titled ‘Survivor’, the ultimate move now is the fabricated allegations that the Odele Secretary general was beaten. This ploy is to ensure that the police & the Odele society, which have been in conspiracy to distort the SLPP celebration, succeed in intimidating the SLPP membership from celebrating on this solemn memorial occasion.
This is completely intolerable and undemocratic. The Sierra Leone Police are in no way helping this country’s unity. They have become too partisan instead of being professional.
© Lahai Lawrence Leema.
Acting National Public Relations Officer.
Sierra Leone Peoples Party.
SLPP CHAIRMAN CHIEF KAPEN LAMBASTS SLPP DIASPORANS FOR FERMENTING TROUBLE IN SIERRA LEONE.
In a phone interview with SLPP Mustapha Wai of Mamba TV Chief Kapen blasted the SLPP diasporans for fermenting trouble at home. During the phone exchange Mr Wai asked him why as a leader he could not stop the party hooligans from going to the street. This made the Chief furious. In his response he said with a deep hoask voice:
“No no no Wai nor tell me da word dae. How you go talk so. Den rude wan ya get respect for we. Even when ar tell them say we nor get clearance look waitin den go do. Una dae respect Una laws den yander but wuna nor want mek den respect de laws of we country. Do ya ar beg, ar get hyper tension”.
He confessed in Mamba TV that the thugs went to the street without a police permit/clearance, and it’s wrong.
PA SOMANA KAPEN
Pa Kapen narrated to Mr Wai how he escaped from the party office due to the teargas the police fired there. Pa Kapen expressed frustrations at the SLPP hooligans and blames the party diasporans for not only fermenting troubles at home bit also creating comfort for bad behavior.
When SLPP’s Mustapha Wai from Mamba TV asked Chief Kapen during the phone interview why he did not control the SLPP crowd, Pa Kapen became outrageously furious and blasted him that they just stick themselves there in the USA and do not even know how the SLPP has descended into chaos and anarchy. Chief Kapen retorted : “No , no, no, Mr Wai , you cannot tell me that nonsense. I am a patient with high blood pressure and I had to escape from police tear gass coming into the party office. I have warned them to respect the police but they took it upon themselves to cause mayhem”. The chief continued addressing Mr Wai in a very upset mood and blaming the SLPP diaspora for contributing negatively to what SLPP had become today. The chief then hung up the phone on Mr Wai abruptly.
The police have stated that they are not only arresting the thugs that damaged public properties alone. The police will also investigate the SLPP leaders who planned the mayhem and when found liable will charge them to court. Many of these SLPP leaders and thugs when found guilty in our courts will go to jail for a very long time.