Intense and widespread discussions are currently ongoing relating to what is considered to be a very unfortunate incident that occurred few days ago during which Police fired tear gas canisters against supporters of the former Vice President, Alhaji Sam Sumana in Port Loko.
Chief Sam Sumana, on that fateful day, returned to the country, disembarking at the Lungi International airport after different overseas engagements and his supporters were out there to welcome him.
In Port Loko he had an intention to watch a football match when the Police immediately started firing teargas on the huge jubilant crowd that was with him.
What this medium has so far gathered from various individuals was that most people are totally against the action of the Police especially against the backdrop that it came in the wake of what has been tagged ‘recent Police excesses’ meted out on peaceful citizens which are indeed tantamount to flagrant violation of fundamental human rights.
Commenting and trying to explain their position, the Police have come out with a press release justifying the action they took. They purported that when Alhaji Sam Sumana reached Port Loko, he insisted on entering the township with a view to address the Coalition for Change (C4C) party supporters in that part of the country, and to also attend a football match between Bai Bureh Warriors and another team at the Port Loko Mini Stadium, of which, the police came to understand that he was to do the kick-off.
It was stressed, that that was without any prior notice to the Sierra Leone Police which is against the Public Order Act No. 46 of 1965.
The release added that the former Vice President was then cautioned by senior SLP officers not to participate in the aforementioned events as other anti C4C supporters had planned to hijack and disrupt the entire programme.
According to them there was already a convergence of a hostile crowd and tension was brewing emphasizing how his safety and security and that of others became of paramount concern to them.
It was also highlighted that in spite of several warnings, he refused to abide by police instructions and thereafter disembarked from his vehicle and headed towards the township on foot, followed by a hostile crowd.
“At this point, the SLP leadership again stopped and reminded him of an imminent public disorder and threat to his safety and security and that of others. Unfortunately, he did not heed to the pleas and warning of the Police but rather continued to walk to the township; thus continuing to attract more hostile crowd. As the security situation deteriorated, we fired teargas to disperse the crowd which brought the situation under control. As routine demands, his convoy was intercepted at Mile 38 Checkpoint, and then allowed safe passage to Freetown,” the Sierra Leone Police narrated.
Strongly debunking the stance of the Police, Secretary General of the Coalition for Change (C4C), the political party that Chief Sam Sumana heads, vehemently argued that as far as they are concerned their leader did nothing wrong that should amount to any breach of the law. He underscored that they are very peaceful and will always abide by that maintaining how the Police were very jittery questioning them the reason for exhibiting such when it was very clear that there was no imminent danger looming. Highpoint of his argument was when he unequivocally called for the IG to resign or for the immediate recall or sacking of the Inspector General of Police, Richard Moigbeh, for what he pointed out in no uncertain terms, to be sheer his incompetence and professional inadequacy. “The Police needs to go back to the drawing board and redefine, reorganise their strategies in order to carry out their duties professionally instead of continuing to violate the fundamental human rights of peaceful individuals,” he strongly recommended stressing that Chief Sam Sumana is entitled to his Freedom of Movement and there was no justifiable reason on the part of the Police to have prevented him from exercising it.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Sengheh Marah of the Renaissance Movement, a rights-based organisation as well as other personalities against what they say is untoward Police highhandedness and dancing to political dictates.