By Feima Sesay
Leader of the main opposition party in Parliament, Hon. Chernor Maju Bah aka Chericoco has stated that the country has suffered yet another phase of shocking violence emanating from a clash between protesters and security forces.
Hon. Maju Bah maintained that these disturbances resulted in the loss of the lives of several civilians and security personnel of the Sierra Leone Police.
He made the disclosure on Wednesday 17th August 2022 during a press conference organized at Committee Room One in Parliament.
He stated that unfortunately, the said the painful events of August 10, continued culminated after several days before and resulted in the deaths of several police officers and citizens in addition to the death of one Hassan Dumbuya aka Evengalist Samson who was shot and killed by security officers among others yet unknown.
“I continue to express my profound condolences to the families who lost loved ones. May their souls rest in perfect peace,” Hon. Bah cried.
He went further to state that as the nation grieves, “I strongly condemn violence of any form and I believe that there are much more progressive and constructive approaches to communicate our concerns including peaceful protests.”
Hon. Bah reiterated that in any democratic dispensation, citizens have the right to protest or demonstrate for their concerns to be addressed as long as those protests are peaceful, and are within the remit of the law.
He noted that citizens including Mohamed Kamara (Med Kay) of the All People’s Congress were arrested even before the 10th August demonstrations and are still in police detention. He added that the events leading to and which unfolded on 10th August, 2022, provided was a clear indication that there has been an erosion in the gains made in strengthening reconciliation, social cohesion and peace building in post-war Sierra Leone.
He said these events succeeded in using constructive means of dialogue to maintain peace, stability, social cohesion and security in Sierra Leone.
More than ever before, Hon. Chernor Maju Bah said, there is the need for all to reverse this trend by reflecting on where we have gone wrong and what the nation can do to ensure that the gains made over the years to consolidate peace, are not lost. He maintained that violence can only undermine stability and development.
He called on all Sierra Leoneans to remain calm and law abiding, and also called on the government to immediately take steps to ameliorate the situation by ensuring that the number of people killed during and after the incident are made public, with their corpses handed over to their families for dignified burial.
He also urged government to display records of all those incarcerated and to also provide this to the public and to further grant families access to their loved ones in custody.
He stated that the government should also ensure that the rights of people are protected through speedy and fair trials in a court of law. Hon. Bah added that victims should also be provided with legal representation where they cannot afford one.
In line with the above, the main opposition leader said he endorses the call for an Independent Committee to speedily and conclusively investigate the August 10 demonstration and its aftermath.
However, he said it must be ensured that the composition and conduct of the Committee is credible and non-partisan with the sole aim of providing truthful findings and proffer recommendations that will amongst other things help to provide redress for the families of the victims and the slain.
He took the opportunity to call on the Inter-Religious Council (IRC), and civil society organizations, the Council of Paramount Chiefs and community leaders to mobilise and take steps to engage all relevant stakeholders, with the aim of helping to promote reconciliation, healing and social cohesion, in our beloved country.