COCORIOKO indicated yesterday that as an objective and independent newspaper, it is not going to apportion blame about the causes of the civil unrest at the headquarters of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) last Friday.
SLPP YOUTHS : Eyewitness reports that they provoked the chaos
We have however started receiving eyewitness reports of what transpired in Freetown that day. We will publish them verbatim and unedited as we receive them. Here is the first eyewitness report received by COCORIOKO :
The True Story about the SLPP attack on the Mayor, Councilors and Citizens of Freetown
By Umaru Mansaray
Provocation is not good. When you keep provoking somebody, one day the person will become fed up with your provocation and react . This was what happened in Freetown between supporters of the All People’s Congress ( APC ) and the Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) on Friday. .
My name is Umaru Mansaray. I live at Kroo Town Road in Freetown . I am not a supporter of the SLPP. I am also not a supporter of the APC. I am just an ordinary citizen. What I am going to tell is the truth, what I saw with my own eyes .I decided to come forward to tell my story to the press because I want to see peace in my country. I am telling what my eyes saw that day
The clock tower by the Eastern Police Station in Freetown was formally unveiled on Friday the 13th of March, 2009 amidst much jubilation by the citizens of this city. There was much pomp and pageantry as the Matotma society, the Abacha Street women and lots of other groups were represented at the function. The residents and traders of Mabela, Magazine Court, Guard Street, Fourah Bay and Kissy Road etc were jubilant as they expressed appreciation to the Mayor, His Lordship Herbert Williams and Freetown City Council for the replacement of the clock after all these years.
During the ceremony, there was too much disruption coming to affect the occasion. Some factions of SLPP supporters were heard saying about the clock “Banya Fakee” meaning in Mende ‘you do not fool us’ or ‘lie to us’. To which the street traders and others responded “Dis nah reality” “Baksenehsu” which in Temne means ‘be patient with us’. The area residents were heard saying that the SLPP needs to be patient like the APC was over the last ten plus years when they were in power. But it don’t seem like SLPP wants to be patient with APC which everybody was saying. The festivities were moved from the clock tower to the Freetown City Council building at Government Wharf for refreshments.
Allegations from some amputees and folks that hang around the SLPP office area stated that one Mandere, an SLPP supporter, and Lansana Fadika, the newly elected SLPP Western Regional Chairman, had earlier that day arranged for some youth from their party (SLPP) to gather stones and bottles, bag and keep them in the vicinity around the SLPP office for reasons that later became clear. The amputees heard the SLPP youth saying :” Den wan ya , if den pass na ya tiday, we go show dem peppeh “,meaning in Krio : “Those people if the pass through here today, we are going to show them pepper ”
As the first crowd of jubilating citizens approached the FCC area coming from the clock tower celebrations they found the street barricaded between Howe Street and Charlotte Street on Wallace Johnson Street and there were a few unarmed police officers standing around. The crowd was approached by Lansana Fadika and Mandere who told them they could not pass that route. Members of the crowd were begging them to allow them pass but they were adamant.
Shortly after, the Mayor and his crowd were coming down Charlotte Street from Lightfoot Boston Street approaching the FCC building when the Mayor was accosted and pushed by Lansana Fadika saying that the Mayor should not come down that street because it was directly in front of the SLPP office. Mandere then unleashed their paid thugs to start throwing the bottles and stones they had collected at the jubilating crowds. The Mayor and a good number of the crowd of innocent citizens were wounded. The windshield of the Mayor’s vehicle was broken. It is reported that Marda Bio was also present and active in all this commotion.
Some of the APC procession were women. The SLPP youth beat and stripped them naked . They beat the masked devil and it had to run away to save his life. Sticks , broken bottles and stones were flying like missiles from the SLPP Headquarters. There was one stone that hit the Lord Mayor on his head .
At this point, more APC youths came to the fighting. They were angry because of the things they saw happening . Allegations by some of them said that the SLPP youths had also stoned the car of the Vice-President , Chief Sam Sumana , at the Clock Tower.
The point at which the pro-SLPP newspaper team arrived was when the citizens that were under attack and area youth who came to the Mayor’s rescue were retaliating for the attack by throwing rocks back at their attackers and at the SLPP office. What they reported and the pictures they are circulating are half-truth to divide the country. They did not show pictures of SLPP youths attacking the Mayor and the passing procession. I am certain the reporter is a good reporter who got eyewitness accounts at the scene, but somehow did not cover that first half of the story in her reporting.
The fighting then started seriously which ended in the SLPP HQ. When the J.J Saffa’s car was set on fire, Fire Brigade which came ,started to put the fire out but were threatened by the SLPP mob with disaster if they tried to extinguish the fire.
This week has seen a number of events that warrant our profound concern and attention. The violence in Kailahun, Pujehun and Freetown and the mysterious death of Gbondima Gbondo who was vying for the SLPP leadership and happened to suddenly die in Kenema the same weekend of the SLPP convention. His death was kept quiet until days after the occurrence.
The people of this country have too much at stake and have intermarried and intermingled too much to buy into any tribal nonsense. We are one people and we will not be divided. Sectionalism will not work for 2012 or consequent elections
Today, it was reported that the vehicle of the Resident Minister,Eastern Province, Mr. Juana Smith , has been burnt by SLPP youths. This is provocation again by SLPP youths similar to the provocation that took place on Friday. So, to me, SLPP is the one provoking these confusion. They have to stop provoking APC youths for there to be peace.
Kroo Town Road
Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 March 2009 )
SLPP/APC clashes : Another view
Written by PEDRO DA CINTA : COCORIOKO FORUM
Saturday, 14 March 2009
When the APC was in the political wilderness for eleven years they were on record as one of the best opposition parties ever in African political history.They played their roles as and when required and as dictated by situations.They were on the sidelines as silent spectators when the ruling SLPP was grandstanding during some auspicious state celebrations or doing the ‘sokobanah’ in political events.
In parliament they played their opposition role which included constructive criticisms to put the ruling SLPP on their toes as well as co-operating in good faith in anything that will be of advantage to the common man.They accepted defeat in grace in two elections whose results were as questionable as the unexpected win of a carpet-bagger.In 1996 the APC witnessed the conduct of an election by an SLPP sympathiser in the guise of a UN official who in the end manipulated the results for a Tejan Kabba win.In 2002, the APC again saw for the first time the emergence of a phenomenon aimed at proficient vote rigging which later got christened or dubbed SLPPically as ‘WUTETEH’.The APC knew very well that elections were not free and fair but for peace sake decided to take its members to task in seeking a democratic and more realistic way of wining the State House.The APC devised their strategies and moved on.While doing so the party,its supporters and sympathisers did not apply any unpatriotic or militant gimmicks to create or incite upheavals or devise and implement any plan aimed at tarnishing Salone’s image by negative propaganda in a bid to scare away potential investors or demoralize the diaspora.
During the APC opposition era people learned and knew exactly what an opposition is and its role both in and out of parliament and were so impressed that they believed it will make a very good ruling party as well.While the SLPP regime was floundering and failing people were quick to place their bet on the APC as the potential saviour.
After positions were reversed following the elections in 2007 the citizens who had expected the same politics got a rude shock!The SLPP with the rotten propensity for attaining power at all costs started crying foul after the final results were announced which signaled the failure of their wuteteh invention and so the end of their deceitful grip on power.In consequence the SLPP resorted to evil machinations which I will come to later.
The SLPP which have been deceiving people that the APC is a violent party and always portrayed themselves as the victims shocked the nation and the international community in 2007 when they militantly declared their strongholds as no-go areas for the APC’s canvassing activities.One would not forget the thuggery that was meted out to the APC in Bo, Kailahun and Pujehun led by John Benjamin,Tom Nyuma et al which nearly cost lives.The APC was forced to withdraw without even saying a word and never retaliated when the SLPP went to their strongholds for the same.This behaviour of the SLPP was reminiscent of the notorious master thug Kendeka and the blood-thirsty N’dorgborwusui eras in the south where many innocent lives were destroyed for only supporting the APC in a move to make the south APC-free.People started becoming very apprehensive and the events in the south in the run up to the 2007 elections became serious causes for their concern.It became crystal clear that the SLPP which had been hiding its paws is a party with histories of violence.
Now back to the fallouts of the SLPP’s 2007 loss.The party rank and file could not stomach such a humiliating defeat by the opposition which was a sure sign of rejection by the people and so resorted to evil machinations.They set up online news rags and bought some sympathetic newspapers in Salone with the sole aim of demonizing the APC so as to scare away potential investors and also make their achievements look insignificant and like failures.They are using radio stations to incite a rebellion and misinform the international community and the diaspora about the real situation in Salone.They engage in insidious activities with a view to sabotage the smooth functioning of the APC regime by planting agents in ministries and even the State House.They stage manage events where they use their thugs dressd in red to perpetrate acts of violence to tarnish the image of the ruling APC.They fabricate stories about the president and his ministers and plant them in tabloids on their payroll.In public or international fora they never say anything positive about Salone because it is being ruled by the APC being oblivious of the fact that they are Saloneans too and that whatever they say or write will reflect on them.Their attitude is EITHER US OR NOBODY.
Since the SLPP became the opposition no co-operation has been extended to the ruling party in matters of national interest.They don’t seek the welfare of the people only themselves and hence their monotonous cry-babyism.The most stupid act of critique which is the only note-worthy thing they have done so far was when they ridiculously tried to make the global problem look like an APC creation.
The Salonean populace has been silently observing the unfolding drama with consciousness.They were giggling when the SLPP has been fooling themselves and now have decided enough is enough.They will not only re-elect the APC in 2012 but also start teaching the negative, unpatriotic, diabolical and thuggish nondescr1pt SLPP lessons on responsibility and patriotism.
What ensued at the SLPP party office should be an eye-opener for all.Those who are trying to politically mislead people are just engaged in a labour of love.The whole incident was no attack by APC thugs but rather the people’s reaction to SLPP’s negative politics.They were in power for eleven years maintaining the status quo in Freetown which is the capital.When the patriotic and people-friendly APC came to power they decided to take the bull by the horn.
The APC showed respect for the capital by cleaning away the eleven years garbage left by the ‘dorti koaloambo’ SLPP.Yesterday they replaced the colonial clock by a modern one much to the cheers and appreciation of the citizens.
The SLPP could not hold back or hide their jealousy and had to make such achievement appear insignificant.As planned they started throwing stones at the dynamic Mayor of Freetown which prompted a swift reaction from the people irrespective of party affiliation.
The people by such reaction has clearly spelt it out that the SLPP is a useless party that is allergic to peace, progress and development.
As of now no cry-babyism or shedding crocodile tears to save face will help the SLPP. The people now know their gimmicks!