By Ragan M. Conteh
Opposition All People’s Congress (APC) Party Members of Parliament and the National Grand Coalition (NGC), headed by Hon. Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, on Thursday, 6th August 2020, protested in the Well of Parliament for what they described as continuous killings and arrests of the people of Makeni City, which is the main opposition stronghold.
The Leader of the opposition All People’s Congress Party in Parliament, Hon. Chernoh Maju Bah, who led the protest, informed the Speaker that, as opposition MPs, they demand an urgent investigation into the recent killings in Makeni.
Hon. Bah cited that a motion has been raised and unanimously approved in the Well of Parliament for setting up an independent investigation committee to look into the Makeni killings and the several arrests of her people.
The Member of Parliament representing Constituency 037, who doubles as the Deputy Chief Whip of the main opposition APC Party from Bombali District, Hon. Catherine Zainab Tarawallie, has informed journalists, outside of Parliament, that, as opposition MPs, they were wearing black attires because they believed that Makeni Lives Matter.
According to Hon. Tarawallie, the wearing of T-shirts with inscription “Makeni Lives Matter” in the Well of Parliament is to mourn those youths who were killed in Makeni last month, adding that a huge number of them were arrested and yet to be released by the Sierra Leone Police.
Hon. Tarawallie informed the press that, what is disgusting to most MPs from Bombali District is that the Sierra Leone Police, in spite of the more than 50 youths arrested during the riot for the relocation of the thermal machine from Makeni, went to Makeni last week and made several arrests again on Sunday before her, alleging that those arrested were wearing printed T-shirts with the inscription “Makeni Lives Matter” on them.
“We are crying with them and showing solidarity with those killed and those arrested unjustly. Makeni Lives Matter,” she said. She added that, because their lives matter, MPs that hail from Makeni are wearing black to tell the Speaker of Parliament and President Julius Maada Bio that they were not happy.
The MP stated that Sierra Leone is not a banana republic neither is it a potato republic. Hon. Catherine, who shed tears in Parliament, revealed that most of those killed in Makeni voted for her during the 2018 general elections, citing that some of those killed were not based in Makeni but they went to do business when they met their untimely deaths.
“I want to send this message to the international community and Government that, henceforth, Makeni needs peace and freedom,” she concluded.
The Chief Whip of the opposition, Hon. Hassan A. Sesay, informed the press that they wore black attires to raise awareness for the attention of the Leadership in Parliament and Government over the killings and rampant arrests of Makeni residents who are now languishing in CID custody.
Hon. Hassan Sesay furthered that, since the killings, no investigation has been carried out, and CID went again last Sunday and arrested another batch of people for allegedly printing T-Shirt with inscription “Makeni Lives Matter.” “This development we condemn as lawmakers,” Hon. Sesay said.
The other reason for the protest, Hon. Hassan advanced, is that those killed in Makeni have yet to be released by Government to their families members for befitting burials. “These are our people, and we are all concerned for them. They are our people, and they must be respected even though they are deceased now,” Hon. Sesay added.
Hon. Hassan Sesay disclosed that those killed belong to families, adding that they are also humans. He urged the Government to swiftly finish their postmortem and handover the dead to their families for burial.
The MP stated that, as MPs, they want Parliament to conduct a speedy investigation and reprimand those that killed the innocent sons and daughters of Makeni.
In his response, the Speaker of Parliament said he has heard the concerns of the opposition and urged them to stay calm while he invited the Leader of Government Business, Hon. Matthew Sahr Nyuma, and the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Chernoh Maju Bah, on Friday in his Chambers for discussions on the matter.