By Moses Sesay
It has now become very apparent that some people that were arrested in connection to the August, 10, 2022 violent protests that took place in some parts of the East End of Freetown and some areas within the Northern Province were in actual fact not the real perpetrators as it has turned out that the Law Courts could not convict them simply because of lack of corroborative evidences of their involvement.
However, those who were actually involved, arrested, tried and convicted got both long term jail sentences and fines as penalties for staging an unlawful insurrection.
What also became apparent and glaring in the aftermath of the violent protests, that claimed the lives of Police Officers, civilians and led to the wanton burning down of Police Stations and vandalization of public properties, was that the SLPP Led Government has used the insurrection as a basis of clamping down on perceived opposition figures purported to have been involved in the protests that called for the sitting President, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio to vacate the seat of governance.
Currently, there is a list of wanted persons published by the Sierra Leone Police and the search for them by both the Police and some key Government supporters is intensifying by the day. Since then there has been the random rounding up of suspected opposition figures who are said to be tortured at a detention centre, Benghazi, at the Headquarters of the para-military of the police where, it is mooted that because of the severity of the torture some of the detainees are forced to false confessions that they were associated only to be later on proved innocent by the courts in the lack of convincing evidences.
However, there are certain rights based groups that have been vociferously condemning such indiscriminate arrests of innocent people and they have been raising their voices in vehemently calling for fair trials.
This medium learnt that key amongst the wanted names recently published by the Police is a 32 year old lady by the name of Haja Bintu Daboh. She happens to the wife of a popular opposition youth activist, Mohamed Foday Daboh, formerly of Upper Looking Town in Kissy, East End of Freetown, who was reportedly brutally killed in the street by security personnel in military uniform for his alleged involvement in championing the protest.
It was also learnt that because of her being married to an opposition figure, the Police and especially Government loyalists or supporters are going with the notion that Haja Bintu Daboh was also involved in the violent protests and as such she must suffer the consequence.
Since then hell break lose for her as there has been a manhunt for her. Fearing for her life and safety she decided to go underground.
Since she got missing in August 2022, her house and that of her family members have been continuously raided by military personnel and Police Officers from the Operations and Support Division(OSD) in search of her, instilling fear and panic in her family members and also threatening her safety and that of her family members.
It could be recalled that the August 10, violent protests was led by faceless people, that is one cannot categorically identified those behind it , unless one Adebayor said to be residing in Holland that has been calling on Sierra Leoneans to protest against the Government to register their dissatisfaction over the astronomical rise in the prices of basic commodities and for the grueling hardship that they are going through.
Some people lost their lives, including six serving Police Officers that were on duty. Properties worth millions of Leones were destroyed and there was a standstill in Freetown and other affected areas which resulted in the declaration of curfew and deployment of Military Aid to Civil Power (MAC-P).
Immediately after the incident, the Government set up a Special Committee to look into the violence and bring all perpetrators to book.
It can be recalled that the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Lahai Lawrence Leema, was alleged to have been behind the house to house raiding of key opposition figures in the name of arresting the August 10 protesters.
Police say their investigations have proved that Haja Bintu Daboh’s husband, Mohamed Foday Daboh, was one of the senior executive members of the ‘People’s Power in Politics’ (PPP), the main opposition group said to have funded and championed the August 10 protests.
According to our investigation, the Police say they have got intelligence that the fugitive, Haja Bintu Daboh, is in possession of vital documents or information in relation to the protest that will be of help in their investigations.
As a result, the search for her intensifies on a daily basis and some have expressed fear that if caught she will be seriously maltreated in an attempt to force information from her about her husband’s and others involvement in the protest.
The story of Haja Bintu Daboh mirrors the plight some Sierra Leoneans are going through simply because of their political affiliations. Some have been falsely accused on political grounds for trying to create national unrest when in actual fact they were only expressing dissenting views or had only being victims of unfortunate circumstances.