By Foday Moriba Conteh
The erudite Executive Director of LEGAL LINK, a member of a consortium of Civil Society Organizations, Rashid Dumbuya Esq, has called on the Minister of Energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay to take full responsibility of the unfortunate incident that took place in Makeni on the 18th of July 2020 where it is alleged that security personnel, while trying to quell a protest shot and killed five young people and injured others.
He made that demand during the AYV “Wake Up Salone” Program on Thursday 23rd July, 2020. The Lawyer cum Rights Activist further demanded for the Government to compensate family members of the victims who were gunned down and those who sustained injuries during the incident saying such should be done as an acknowledgement of the complacency on the part of the State actors and a show of regret for the entire saga.
According to Rashid Dumbuya they are deeply concerned over the disproportionate use of force by the security agencies on the protesters.
“It is no gainsaying to opine that such state of affairs will gravely affect the public image of the country not only at the national and regional levels but also at the global level,” he pointed out.
He continued that as civil society organizations that defend the rights of vulnerable groups in society including marginalized youths, they take the greatest exception to the unprofessional conduct of the Security forces and called for a judge led inquiry to look into the handling of the entire incident by the Ministry of Energy, Local Government and the security forces.
Lawyer Rashid stated that it could be recalled that similar protests occurred in time past in Kono and Kailahun over the removal of generator plants from their town ship to other regions of the country but maintained that unlike the ugly incident that occurred in Makeni, no fatalities were recorded in the above two townships transfers.
“Surprisingly, despite the increased condemnation and outcry from the public over the video clips showcasing brutal and excessive force by the Security forces, we note with utter consternation, the apparent reticence and the lack thereof by the top Management of the security forces in Sierra Leone to officially condemn this barbaric and unprofessional behaviour of subordinates, over their execution of brutal and excessive force to harmless youths in Makeni that were merely agitating for energy security of their township,” he added furthering how that outright complicity at the top is not only worrying but reveals without doubt, the degree of impunity and non-accountability that prevails within the law enforcement architecture in Sierra Leone.
On his own part the Minister of Energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay, expressed sincere condolences to the affected family members of the victims stating that the entire situation was very unfortunate. In giving a background on what led to the situation, Alhaji Kanja Sesay pointed out that the generator in Lungi that powers the Airport and its environs developed a fault and there were plans to get engineers from overseas to do the repairs but because of the prevalence of the coronavirus that has been impossible at the moment.
He continued that together with other stakeholders in the energy sector they thought it prudent ,as a stop gap measure, to remove one of the standby generators from Makeni to be installed in Lungi until such a time when repairing of the faulty generator would take place. He underscored that Makeni is being powered by the Bumbuna Hydro Dam and one out of the two generators they decided to transfer to Lungi was on standby. The Minister underscored that before the removal process, knowing the sensitivity of the move, he instructed the Permanent Secretary and some engineers from the Ministry to engage stakeholders in Makeni on the issue.
He said he was made to understand that indeed a meeting was convened in Makeni, chaired by the Mayor of Makeni and in attendance were the Provincial Secretary, District Council Chairman among other personalities to discuss the matter. He concluded by informing during the meeting the stakeholders reached a consensus for the generator to be transferred stressing that it was not done clandestinely.
Responding to the demand of the Executive Director of LEGAL LINKS, Rashid Dumbuya, Alhaji Kanja Sesay stated that as the current Minister of Energy he will not take personal responsibility for what transpired in Makeni. He further told Lawyer Rashid that as a consortium of civil society organizations they must engage the Government on the issue of compensation and other related matters he raised during the program.