By Roland J. Morovia
Hon. Chernor Ramadan Maju Bah
Leader of the main opposition in Sierra Leone’s Parliament, Hon. Chernor Ramadan Maju Bah fondly called Chericoco at a press conference held in the House of Parliament yesterday 17th August, 2022 endorsed the call for the composure of an Independent Committee to speedily and conclusively investigate the August 10 demonstrations and its aftermath.
However, he urged, 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 victims.
The MP recalled that on 10th of August, 2022, the country suffered yet another phase of shocking violence emanating from a clash between protesters and security forces.
These disturbances he said resulted in the loss of the lives of several civilians and security personnel of the Sierra Leone Police.
Unfortunately, he went on, the painful events of August 10, continued for several days further claiming the lives of citizens in harrowing circumstances as in the cases of Hassan Dumbuya (Evangelist Samson) and others.
He expressed his profound condolences to the families who lost loved ones, while strongly condemning violence of any form and expressed believe that there are much more progressive and constructive approaches to communicate concerns including peaceful protests.
The MP stated further: “I would also reiterate that in any democratic dispensation, citizens have the right to use protest to demonstrate their concerns as long as those protests are peaceful, and are within the remit of the law.”
He expressed concern that citizens including Mohamed Kamara (Med Kay) of the All Peoples Congress party were arrested even before the 10th August demonstrations and are still in detention.
He said the events leading to and which unfolded on 10th August, 2022, provided a clear indication that there has been erosion in the gains made in strengthening reconciliation, social cohesion and peace building in post-war Sierra Leone. These events he said further point to the fact that the country has not succeeded in using constructive means of dialoguing to maintain peace, stability, social cohesion and security in Sierra Leone.
More than ever before, the honourable stated; “there is the need for us to reverse this trend by reflecting on where we have gone wrong and what we can do to ensure that the gains made over the years to consolidate peace, are not lost”.
He said violence can only undermine stability and development and called on all Sierra Leoneans to remain calm and law abiding, while also calling on the government to immediately take steps to ameliorate the situation by ensuring that the number of people killed during and after the incident is made public, with their corpses handed over to their families for dignified burial rites.
Hon. Bah also urged that a record of all those incarcerated is provided to the public and their families granted access to them, government ensuring that their rights are protected through speedy and fair access to a court of law and above all, provide them with legal representation where they cannot afford one.
Hon. Bah used the opportunity to call on the Inter-Religious Council (IRC) and other Civil Society Organisations, Council of Paramount Chiefs and community leaders to mobilise and take the right steps in engaging all relevant stakeholders, with the aim of helping to promote reconciliation, healing and social cohesion, in the country.
He also called on the International Community, to continue providing the required political support and inspire the much needed political will to overcome the challenges that the nation is currently contending with.