By Ragan M. Conteh
Members of Parliament, representing Bombali District, have informed that the caucus of Bombali District Members of Parliament has been drawn to what can be viewed as police harassment and human rights violation of stakeholders of the APC party and others, including chiefdom authorities of the District of Bombali.
The eight (8) MPs include Hon Charles Conteh – Constituency 031, Hon Dr Mark M. Kalokoh- Constituency 032, Hon Peter Yamba Koroma- Constituency 033, Hon I.B. Kargbo – Constituency 034, Hon Paul Conteh – Constituency 035, Hon Alieu Koroma – Constituency 036, Hon Catherine Z. Tarawalie- Constituency 037 and Hon Sallieu Osman Sesay – Constituency 038, respectively.
According to the press release, “Information that has reached us indicates that the residences of Mr. Alie M. Kargbo, acting Northern Regional Chairman, amongst others, were raided on Friday 9th October 2020 at about 12 midnight. The caucus has confirmed that since the night of the aforesaid raids, the whereabouts of Mr. Kargbo have remained unknown.”
They said the caucus sought further information from the AIG north-east Mr. Frank Alpha, on the reasons for such actions by the Sierra Leone Police. They pointed out that AIG Frank Alpha, whiles denying any knowledge of the whereabouts or arrest of Mr. Alie M Kargbo, confirmed that one chiefdom local authority had been arrested.
The MPs said the AIG informed them that the police believe that a law banning cultural societies and masquerades was broken in Makeni on Thursday 8th October when the ACC were to interview the former President on matters pertaining to corruption.
In view of the above, the caucus of Bombali District MPs expresses that they welcome and support any legitimate and unbiased fight against corruption and that they recognize that corruption is an anathema to development and that is why they acclaimed the effort of the former President in establishing and strengthening the foundations for accountability.
The MPs went further that they view the raids on Mr. Alie M Kargbo and other local authorities, during curfew hours, to be tantamount to police harassment and a violation of their human rights. “We strongly and unequivocally condemn such acts in this 21st Century. The police have the legitimacy to formerly and procedurally invite anyone for questioning as a first step. We believe this option was not utilised by the police but rather they chose to storm the residences of these stakeholders without permission,” the caucus of MPs noted.
They also considered the explanation received from AIG Alpha, using cultural society display on Thursday as a justification for the arrests to be untenable. “This is because just few days ago, cultural displays and masquerades were clearly in attendance at a function to mark the official launch of a clock tower in Kenema by the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. A similar show of cultural display was also witnessed few days ago in Port Loko during the official opening of a girl’s school. For both of these functions no arrests were made. The law cannot be selective,” the MPs said.
The MPs are demanding the police to immediately make known the whereabouts of Mr. Alie M Kargbo and others. “Consequently, we demand their unconditional release to their families because their arrest is unlawful and malicious as at now. Mr. Kargbo is not the head of a cultural society nor is there any evidence to show that he was responsible for the cultural display on show on that day. This is the same for the others,” the MPs also confirmed.
MPs revealed that their findings are that people from all over Sierra Leone converged to stand in solidarity with the former President, who they consider has done so much for this country, as he goes through what can arguably be defined as TARGETTING.
It was noticed by them that the narrative of an “ACC interview with former President,” as expressed by the ACC, changed to a perception of “A plan to arrest the former President” by the populace.
To us, according to the birth of that perception, it came about as a result of the unnecessary police build up prior to the day for the interview, which consequently raised tension that was not supposed to have been there.
Lastly, MPs said they rebut all allegations insinuating that the ACC was inhibited from carrying on with interviewing the former President. “We are aware that the ACC personnel were offered every opportunity to meet with the former President in his residence to conduct the interview,” they informed.
They want it to be known that the people of Bombali are not against the former President answering to the call of the ACC in so far as such action is not politically bias and it should also be known that the former President is not against taking an ACC interview while advising everyone to be law abiding and to keep the peace while they seek the unconditional release of their people.