The crisis in the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP) reached an all-time low yesterday when party thugs, supporters and officials went to blows in a mass brawl before the Law Courts building in Freetown. In the affray, a female supporter was shot in the leg by one of the party thugs, with the commotion lasting almost an hour before the Police came and dispersed the combatants.
This shameful street fighting by supporters and officials of the SLPP highlights a sad addendum to the bitter internecine conflict that has torn the party apart, reducing it to two deadly factions loyal to the Chairman of the party, Chief Somano Kapen on one hand and Presidential flagbearer hopeful, Retired Brigadier Maada Bio on the other hand, whose group is called “PA O PA “, which in Krio means : “It is either us or nothing .”
The SLPP members had come to the court to attend a legal session . There have been different versions of the incident, depending on the supporters of the two factions of the SLPP reporting the event. Here are a few versions .
THE SOMANA KAPEN FACTION :
During chaotic scenes outside the Central Courts in Freetown, where hundreds of Julius Maada Bio supporters had gathered to threaten and intimidate the Plaintiffs in the injunction hearing brought by Victor Sheriff and others against the SLPP, a gun shot was fired which resulted in the leg injury to one of the Paopa supporters.
It is not known who fired the gun shot, however, there has been concern about the worsening security situation in Freetown with the mobilisation of over 400 armed thugs at Unity House and the of former CDF fighters to todays court hearing.
According to reports published by the group, Monitors for Justice and Peace – Sierra Leone, armed thugs stationed at Unity House, to make a last violent stand in advance of their expulsion by the SLPP National Chairman, Somanoh Kapen are armed with cutlasses, knives and also pistols.
It is likely that in the consternation outside the courts, these ill disciplined thugs may have accidentally fired a gun shot, which injured one of their own supporters.
The deterioration of the security situation outside the Central Court and at Unity House cannot continued to be overlooked by the Sierra Leone Police. The Sierra Leone Police cannot continue to assert that this is an internal SLPP fracas, and does not wish to get involved, when it is clear that the use of force by Julius Maada Bio’s supporters has implications for the safety and security of members of the public, court staff and key SLPP figures.
Following the death of Daddy George at the hands of Julius Maada Bio’s bodyguard, it is clear that the Sierra Leone Police have not learnt the lessons of that tragic event.
THE MAADA BIO FACTION :
POLICE OFFICER ATTACHED TO JOB SHOT MAADA BIO SUPPORTER AT LAW COURT
By: Fatmata Mansaray
Polices sources have confirmed the shooting of the SLPP West District Chairlady Yeama Kassay at the law court building this morning by a police officer attached to former SLPP Chairman, John O Benjamin.
The Police Officer, Lincoln Brown, PC 7825, who shot the SLPP Chairlady was with Franklyn Rogers, a personal friend of Mr Benjamin and fellow Aspirant in the SLPP Alliance. The Police Officer was assigned to Franklyn Rogers by Mr John O. Benjamin to attend the SLPP high court hearing this morning.
Eye witnesses have stated that the victim, Yeama, was with other SLPP members at the law court building when they heard Franklyn Rogers giving instruction to the Police Officer saying “Na for shoot any Maada Bio Supporter. We don ready for am dis time”.
As at the time of compiling this report the Police Officer was said to have escaped and in hiding after firing the Maada Bio Supporter on her right foot.
After the shooting, supporters of Maada Bio rushed Yeama, who was bleeding profusely, to the connaught hospital for emergency medical attention while some of the Bio supporters were singing “Maada Bio say, No Violence”.
Mr Benjamin has been unavailable for any reaction to the shooting by the Police Officer attached to him. However, this is the latest of violent incidents which have involved either security personnel or supporters of Mr Benjamin. In May 2016, following the death of Daddy George in Kenema, Mr Benjamin has now been accused of plotting the death in order to smear his political opponent, Maada Bio. It is also not clear whether the shooting today was planned by Mr Benjamin as a retaliation to the Kenema shooting.
There has been no official reaction from Maada Bio about the shooting of his supporter. Sources closed to him have said that, after the shooting, Maada Bio has called on his supporters to remain calm, be peaceful and allow the Police to do their investigation so that all those involved in the shooting can be held accountable. A senior source also stated that Maada Bio will continue to call for peace and he is encouraging members of the Alliance to desist from violence.