Escaping Death by Chance… Hon Isaac Tarawallie & Others Go Into Hiding

Hon. Isaac Tarawalie.jpeg

By Foday Moriba Conteh

Isaac Tarawalie, Member of Parliament of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) Party who is representing Constituency 118 in the East End of Freetown has decided to go underground in the wake of the 10th August 2022 violent protests that took place some parts in the East End of Freetown and the northern province of the country. This became apparent when this news medium decided to have a look at events that followed in the immediate post-protest period.

Most people predicted that a protest 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 Government, headed by President Julius Maada Bio, 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 William Kamara 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. In the evening hours the protests were brutally suppressed and everything died down.

What then followed next sent cold chills down the spines of most people. As one of the Members of Parliament of the main opposition party who was representing a Constituency which turned out to be one of the hotspots of violent protest, Hon. Isaac Tarawallie 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 pregnant wife was threatening interrogated to point out his whereabouts.

Information about the deaths of the six police officers 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 the 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 continue with no end in sight.

There were reports that there are also vigilante groups made of members of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). These groups are also reported of raiding suspected APC Members, of which a prominent one happens to be Hon Isaac Tarawallie. For unfortunate ones who are rounded up they are taken to a notorious detention centre known as Benghazi where they are tortured.

According to a renowned political commentator, what is for now good for APC members who have been declared wanted is for them to lie low or otherwise face the reality of being brutally killed gauging from the political tension that has now engulfed this country.

An attempt made by our reporter to contact some APC stalwarts, including Hon Isaac Tarawallie, Abu Bakarr Bangura, Beatrice Conteh all prominent members of the opposition APC Party residing in the East End of Freetown, where the protest was hot, proved futile as there were no responses indicating that they have gone underground.


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