By Foday Moriba Conteh
Various human rights activists in the country have seriously condemned the unlawful and wrongful arrests of young people identified as the real perpetrators of the August 10, 2022 violent protests that erupted in some parts of the country including Freetown, the capital city, as some social media posts have indicated.
However, when this medium decided to undertake a serious investigation into the issue, it came out glaringly that in actual fact such false identifications are mainly politically motivated and perpetrated by supporters of the ruling SLPP Government against those considered to be against the political establishment.
What has made the situation become very alarming is the fact that there are certain vigilante groups, said to be made up of supporters of the ruling SLPP Government, going around and clandestinely killing those considered to be diehard supporters of the opposition APC Party.
These frightful extra-judicial killings have even become very fearful and dreadful to an extent that it has created panic in some communities especially when news break out that a fanatic supporter of the APC in the Northern Provincial City of Makeni was identified and shot dead amidst other unconfirmed incidences of similar nature.
The aforementioned Evangelist Samson was a well-known, vociferous and ardent supporter of the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) Party, whose members were deemed and accused of being behind the violent protests that claimed the lives of Police Officers and civilians, some said to be innocent.
Evangelist Samson was known for his incisive and acidic criticisms against the governance policies of the ruling SLPP Government and has called on Sierra Leoneans to vote out the SLPP from power simply because of ineptitude and corruption.
Portee, one of the communities situated in the East End of Freetown, was indeed a hot spot during the violent protest as the situation was really tense as the crowd was trying to advance towards the city’s center with Police Officers repelling them by firing tear gas canisters and in some cases live bullets.
Young people were seen violently protesting as they believe that the economic hardship has become really unbearable, and therefore a political change must take place.
Mounting roadblocks, burning tyres and throwing various missiles against the Police, who in return retaliated by firing teargas to disperse the sporadic crowds that were converging or building up from time to time, the situation really got out of hand as the Police started firing live bullets with some fatalities taking place.
As the situation died down, one of the ardent supporters of the APC Party, a resident of the community by the name of Augustine Koroma was accused by some irate youths, believed to belong to the ruling SLPP, as one of the ring leaders of the violent protest who was calling for the resignation of President Julius Maada Bio.
The desperate group of young irate SLPP supporters was seen violently moving towards his house, with some holding sticks, machetes with the objective of physically manhandling him in order to teach him a lesson that he should learn to respect the President and Government of the day.
A reliable source, who intimated this medium on the condition of anonymity, stated that the accused person, Augustine Koroma, was not even in town when the protest in Freetown occurred. According to our source, Augustine Koroma on 6th August, 2022 travelled to Guinea and only returned a week later after the protest.
He said Augustine Koroma is lucky as he should have been dead by now because, unaware that he is wanted, upon his immediate return no one spotted him until he was alerted by one of his cousins that the Police have raided their house four times on the lookout for him.
Besides, it was stated that on three occasions strange voices have been heard, late at night, close to where Augustine Koroma was residing, speaking in low tones but upon thorough investigation in the morning hours the owners could not be identified. However, it has been speculated that the voices belong to those who are on the lookout for Augustine Koroma and two other young men accused of killing a police officer.
Although some of those identified, arrested and charged to court for taking part in the August 10th violent protests have been tried in various Magistrate courts, heavily sentenced, there are, however, reports that some people have gone missing for days now.
A relative of Augustine Koroma, whom one of our reporters spoke with stated that as the political situation in the country continues to become tense with the build up to the 2023 Presidential, Parliamentary and Municipal Elections, it is but advisable for Augustine Koroma and others accused of involvement in the violent protests to lie low and if possible move out of the country immediately because the Sierra Leone together with the supporters of the ruling SLPP Government has vow to make sure that all those accused of participating in the protest are arrested or otherwise they may risk any untoward thing that may occur or happen to them.