By Hassan Bruz
Northern Bureau Chief
A lot of versions have been spread across the Globe with regards what transpired between the Sierra Leone Police [SLP] and Alhaji Chief Samuel Samsumana – the former Vice President of Sierra Leone who is also the Leader and Chairman of the Coalition for Change [C4C] Political Party. But it appears the versions are so diverse and conflicting that many people are confused as to what actually transpired. The Management of the Sierra Leone Police has issued a Press Release and have been to some National Radio Stations in the capital city of Freetown to make its position understandable.
I gathered the Former Vice President has also accepted some interviews on a few International Radios to present his case. But a keen listener or concern person would only see any of these as a shift of blame or a frantic effort in trying to win public support. As a senior resident journalist in the locality where the said incident occurred, it is my considered responsibility to provide you with what could be a more objective narrative. The wish is that you would be able to develop a better opinion after you shall have gone though my despatch.
It is true that the Police had an encounter with Alhaji Chief Samuel Samsumana in the City of Port Loko while walking along the Streets of the City towards the Port Loko Mini Stadium with some of his Followers. It is also true that he was cautioned by the Police who wanted to stop him from entering the City. According o the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of North West Region, Alhaji Samuel Samsumana did not notify the Police and could therefore not be allow to enter the City with his fleet of vehicles.
He however gained entrance to the Township and was peacefully waving to onlookers with a smile as he walked across the Streets of Port Loko. But it is not a public knowledge that he was going to address a Rally that day in the City of Port Loko nor was there an eminent threat to the peace of the People though he continued to capture more and more fans as he moved along. Besides it is an undeniable fact that a lot of tear ganisters were fired that suffocated both the former Vice President and his followers. It was even eminent that the sporadic firing could have resulted to the loss of lives.
The actual facts about this incident are that, the former Vice President was returning to the Country from a trip abroad and a good number of his friends and admirers had crammed at the International Airport Town of Lungi with Cultural and Traditional dances to accord him a rousing welcome. But only a few of them were allowed to go through the entrance Gates of the Airport. They were further denied sufficient time to chant with the former Vice President who was being urged to depart Lungi without delay. He was seemingly escorted to Port Loko on route to Freetown where he wanted to make a brief stop. But the Security was even tighter as Armed Police Personnel under the watchful eyes of their respective Local Unit Commanders had barricaded all the main entry points to the City of Port Loko. Thus he was denied the right of free movement.
Consequently, the Inhabitants of Port Loko were shocked in the evening hours of Sunday 16th June 2019 over what turned out to be a violent situation in the City. It had been a peaceful day as the City was commemorating the Day of the African Child with a lot of activities. It coincided with a friendly football match that was being conducted at the yet to be completed Maforki Mini Stadium with a team from Freetown. There was no rainfall that evening and the atmosphere was quite peaceful. Even though the day was further marked by the brief visit of the Leader of C4C – Chief Samuel Samsumana , many people were not aware and he would have simply made his way through without much ado if it were not for what has now been referred to as the high handedness of the Sierra Leone Police.
Upon arrival at the first barricaded Point, Chief Sam Sumana was instructed to follow a prescribed route that would deny him a drive through the City. At the Kabia Road Junction which is adjacent to the Port Loko District Council, the entourage stopped with a desire to go through the City. But it was vehemently resisted by a forest of armed Police Officers. In a bid to avoid a commotion, the Chairman and Leader for C4C Party proceeded to the Malaykuray Junction.
It would appear, he had the consent of the Leadership of the Police in the North West Region, to enter the City on the grounds that his vehicles must not enter the City and he remains peaceful. So he and his followers walked into the City on foot. They went through Falaba Road, the Port Loko Police Station peaceably and were heading towards Lunsar Road weaving at their admirers.
They were just trekking towards the Maforki Mini Stadium when the rumpus erupted. Although the actual cause is yet to be ascertained, it appeared the former Vice President – Chief Samuel Samsumana was chased so as to prevent him from making further advances through the City. Suddenly, there was sporadic firing of teargas which left people running for their lives as every other activity was brought to an abrupt stop. The Videos below would help you visualize the situation better……