By Foday Moriba Conteh
Human rights organizations in the country have vehemently criticized the unjust and illegal arrests and detentions of young individuals alleged to be the instigators of the violent protests that rocked various parts of the country, including the capital city of Freetown, on August 10, 2022, as reported by both local and international media outlets.
Upon thorough investigation, it has become evident that these false identifications are primarily politically motivated and carried out by supporters of the ruling SLPP Government against those perceived as opponents of the political establishment.
The situation has been exacerbated by the presence of certain vigilante groups, reportedly consisting of supporters of the ruling SLPP Government, who are believed to be covertly targeting and eliminating fervent advocates within the country.
The community of Rokel, situated on the Waterloo highway, was a focal point during the violent protests. Tensions ran high as crowds attempted to advance towards the city center, prompting the police to respond with tear gas canisters and, in some instances, live bullets.
Young protesters voiced their grievances, citing unbearable economic hardships and demanding political change. Roadblocks were erected, tires were set ablaze, and various projectiles were hurled at the police. In response, the police used tear gas to disperse the sporadic crowds, and in some instances, they resorted to live ammunition, tragically resulting in fatalities.
In a startling turn of events, Ibrahim King Komeh, a resident of the community, known as a passionate youth advocate, activist, and owner of a second-hand shoe business, has become the subject of a nationwide manhunt by the Sierra Leone police.
Ibrahim King Komeh, often referred to as “the King,” is the Founder and Leader of Campaign for Justice (CFJ). He was accused by a group of irate youths, believed to be aligned with the ruling SLPP, of being one of the leaders of the violent protests, calling for President Julius Maada Bio’s resignation.
His accusation is closely tied to his unwavering commitment to advocating for the rights and well-being of fellow youth. His influential role as a youth leader has further solidified his impact on matters concerning the younger demographic in the country.
Ibrahim King Komeh’s advocacy and activism have made him a figure of both controversy and admiration in the country. His unwavering dedication to principles, including a bold stance against social injustice, political tensions, and the victimization of youth, centers on the mission to uphold democratic principles and the rule of law while challenging systemic issues that hinder the country’s progress.
This angered group of young SLPP supporters violently advanced toward Ibrahim King Komeh’s residence, some wielding sticks and machetes, with the intent to physically harm him for his outspoken stance against social injustice. They alleged that he was among the ringleaders who called on youths to join the protests.
As a result of these accusations, the Sierra Leone Police have declared him and others wanted, accusing them of being among the key figures behind the violent August 10 protests in the country.
The Sierra Leone police’s decision to declare him a wanted individual has stunned the public. Although the specific charges against Ibrahim King Komeh remain undisclosed, it is evident that his advocacy and activism have drawn official attention. His prominent role as a youth leader, coupled with his unwavering commitment to social justice and democracy, appears to have placed him in the authorities’ spotlight.
A confidential source, speaking anonymously, revealed that on three occasions, mysterious voices were heard late at night near Ibrahim King Komeh’s residence, speaking in hushed tones. Subsequent morning investigations failed to identify the individuals responsible, fueling speculation that these voices belong to those seeking Ibrahim Komeh and two other young men accused of killing a police officer during the August 10 protest.
While some of those identified, arrested, and brought to court for their involvement in the August 10 violent protests have faced legal proceedings and received heavy sentences, there are reports of individuals who have gone missing for several days.
A friend of Ibrahim King Komeh, interviewed by one of our reporters, expressed concern about the escalating political tension in the country as the build-up to the 2023 Presidential, Parliamentary, and Municipal Elections continues. Given these circumstances, it is advisable for Ibrahim Komeh and the others accused of involvement in the violent protests to consider leaving the country.
As of the time of this press release, Ibrahim King Komeh’s whereabouts remain unknown. At the heart of recent developments surrounding Komeh is the perplexing disappearance of his family members, most notably his mother. The absence of his family, along with Komeh himself, from their usual surroundings has raised serious concerns about their safety and welfare.
This medium will continue to follow this story keenly.