By Mohamed K. Turay
Most people predicted this was going to happen, but not as bloody and deadly as it turned out to be. The high cost of living in Sierra Leone has really made people angry and frustrated over the lack of efforts from the Bio administration to control the high price of basic commodities such a bread, rice, etc. Sierra Leoneans have been on the edge for too long and it only required a little spark which eventually came from a Sierra Leonean activist popularly known as ‘Adebayor’, who is residing in The Netherlands.
August 10th 2022 was the date that was set for the protests, calling for people to come out and express their frustration over the high cost of living which most people believed would have influenced the government of President Julius Maada Bio who was abroad seeking medical attention. People took to the street, mostly in opposition strongholds across the country, calling for the resignation of President Bio.
The Police were called in and sent out to disperse people. Tear gas was fired, but it didn’t work and things became intensified. Eyewitnesses say the police started firing live rounds of ammunition into crowds, killing protesters in the process. Some were arrested and severely beaten before being whisked away. Protesters then attacked police officers, using machetes, and six police officers ended up losing their lives.
At Wellington, in the east end part of Freetown, protesters were seen attacking two police officers in uniforms with machetes, where they ended up losing their lives. Videos of these bloody and deadly events of August 10th 2022 across the country started circulating, revealing clearer information on what’s had happened on that fateful day.
Four protesters, Jeremiah Sesay, Abubakarr Bangura, Abdulai Kamara and Musa Mansaray were later arrested for the death of the two police officers killed at Wellington. Four others, Mark Conteh of Barracks Old Road, Ibrahim Kargbo of Mamba Ridge Kissy, Mohamed Sesay of Calaba Town and Lamin Turay of Campbell Street, Wellington are on the run for taking part in the protests.
Eyewitnesses have come forward claiming they have photos and videos of the deadly protest and later identified Ibrahim Kargbo of Mamba Ridge, Kissy who they say was wearing a black T-shirt and a pair of Jean trousers right in the middle of the group of youths that joined the protests.
As the youth Leader for the main opposition party in the Mamba Ridge community, Ibrahim Kargbo was alleged to be one of the ring leaders who led hundreds of youths to the protests. Another eyewitness also confirmed that armed policemen raided his house on the night of August 10th in which he managed to flee the scene but his wife was seriously beaten.
Information about the deaths of the six police officer who lost their lives in the protest quickly spread across Freetown, with ruling party supporters pointing fingers at opposition party supporters they recognized to have taken part in the protests and eventual deaths of the six police officers killed that day. The east end of Freetown which was the heart of the August 10th protests saw the brunt of a police crackdown, the breaking down of doors where supporters of the main opposition party live with their families.
Many arrests of opposition supporters were made, with others shot in their homes, while many more narrowly escaped death from the hands of angry ruling party supporters with machetes and the guns that accompanied the police.
In the northern city of Makeni, police rounded up supporters of the main opposition of the All People’s Congress, including social media blogger and Chairman of the opposition group called TAGMEN, Evangelist Samson and some of his followers. Evangelist Sampson was shot and killed by police at close range and this killing of such a popular blogger brought so much anger and frustration in the country.
The military were later called in to assist the police, which was followed by intense raids on opposition supporters who had taken part in the protests. This has seen many of the members and supporters of the APC gone into hiding and posters of wanted persons involved in the protests and those police believed to have taken part in the killing of police officers displayed in public.
The military presence on the streets increased, and warnings of more arrests and prosecutions of people who would take to the street were made by the police.
The Sierra Leone government believed opposition members were behind these protests and has instituted an inquiry into the events. In a swift response, the Mayor of Freetown, Her Worship, Yvonne Aki-Sawyer of the All People’s Congress was also invited for questioning.
Many political observers believe the crackdown on opposition members who took part in the protests and those believed to have taken part in the killing of six police officers across the country will never stop until what the government believe is sanity and full control is restored.