• December 19, 2023

OPPOSITION LEADER EXPOSES SECURITY PERSONNEL

OPPOSITION LEADER EXPOSES SECURITY PERSONNEL
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By Alusine Fullah

The Leader of the Opposition All People’s Congress (APC) in the House of Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Hon Abdul Kargbo has expressed dissatisfaction over the manner of state security personnel continue to subject members of them to constant intimidation everywhere. He raised this concern with a post he shared via his official X handle quoting; “Section 26(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone guarantees the right of citizens to belong to any registered political party of their choice. Security personnel should stop intimidating the opposition to the extent of confiscating their phones at various checkpoints.

Discontents emerged following series of complaints of intimidation from members of the public about the excessive use of force in the management of check points and curfew order which has warranted the Minority Leader to raise concern about the spate of intimidation by state security personnel.

Last Wednesday 13 December 2023 armed police and military personnel stormed several homes at Roportee, Brima Lane and Mayenkineh Calaba Town in the east of Freetown. Residents and close sources who have asked for anonymity of these communities went further to  share their bitter experience with this medium that their homes were raided by state security forces/ personnel.  They furthered that the security personnel confiscated their phones, logged into them and searched to know which WhatsApp groups they belong to. They added that those who were found with APC WhatsApp groups were apprehended. One of them muttered to Forum Newspaper: “We are really tired of this mess…every day they search our homes…”

Explaining in detail how extreme security personnel are bent on subjecting peaceful and vulnerable citizens to intimidation, Hon Abdul Kargbo said harassments is not only taking place at checkpoints but in private homes, armed police and military continue to intimidate people for their membership to the APC. He added the mobile phones of most people have been confiscated by security personnel at checkpoints wherever people go.

Hon. Abdul Kargbo made some references to the Constitution of Sierra Leone to underline the gravity of his concerns. Pointing to Section 26(1) of the Constitution, he stressed that every citizen possesses the unassailable right to align with any registered political party of their choosing. The leader of APC parliamentarians underscored the significance of respecting and upholding citizens’ constitutional rights.

“Section 26(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone guarantees the right of citizens to belong to any registered political party of their choice. Security personnel should stop intimidating the opposition to the extent of confiscating their phones in various checkpoints.”

The specific focus of the warning was the reported intimidation tactics employed by Security Personnel at checkpoints, where opposition APC members have allegedly been subjected to unwarranted scrutiny, including the confiscation of their mobile phones. Hon. Abdul Kargbo made it abundantly clear that such actions are not only a violation of individual rights but also a direct affront to the democratic principles enshrined in the nation’s constitution.

Critically analysing his statement serves as a poignant reminder of the delicate balance required to maintain a thriving democracy. It reflects concerns about the potential erosion of political freedoms and the need for Security Personnel to operate within the confines of the law. The message is aimed at fostering an environment where citizens, regardless of their political affiliation, feel secure in exercising their rights without fear of reprisal.

As Sierra Leone navigates its democratic path, the warning from Hon. Abdul Kargbo resonates as a call for accountability and adherence to constitutional principles. It is anticipated that this message will prompt a re-evaluation of practices at checkpoints, ensuring that Security Personnel uphold the rights of citizens and refrain from actions that could be perceived as attempts to stifle political opposition.

For this story to be balanced, Forum Newspaper contacted Media 1, Brima Kamara from the Sierra Leone Police for clarifications against the foregoing claims/ allegations. He stated categorically clear that, the above claims are not true as far as the police is concerned. He further noted that, people show follow the rules of the check points and the curfew order. Also, before going to press, we contacted Colonel Bangura, the Head of Public Relations Department from the Ministry of Defence but all proved futile.

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