5 killed, others injured in Makeni — weeks after minister threatens to kill protester
By AL MansaraY
Security forces reportedly killed five people and seriously injured many others during a protest Saturday in Makeni, northern Sierra Leone — weeks after resident minister northern region Hon. Abu Abu Abdulai Koroma was caught on video threatening to use the police and military to shoot and kill would be protesters.
Koroma was initially suspended by President Julius Maada Bio for his threat to shoot and kill comments but later reinstated — without clarity if the suspension was a punishment or an investigation.
Police spokesperson Supt. Brima Kamara says in a WhatsApp message that 51 male youths were arrested during the protest and are currently being detained in Freetown.
The Sierra Leone Independent Police Commission Board says they are currently investigating the incident.
“As provided for under Regulation 3(1)(c) of the IPCB Regulations, 2013, the IPCB is mandated to investigate, among others, “a shooting incident where a police officer has discharged a firearm and killed a person”,” a statement reads.
The protest by residents was triggered after reports suggested that the local electricity company was temporarily transferring a standby electricity from Makeni to Lungi town — within the same northern region but different district, according to Makeni city council officials.
Council Education and Communications officer Emmanuel Samura says because of the tense political rivalry between the ruling government party and the main opposition, there was an initial belief by some residents that the generator was meant for Kenema and not Lungi.
Sierra Leone People’s Party is the ruling opposition party with Kenema as its stronghold — whilst main opposition All People’s Congress has its stronghold in Makeni.
“All of this is due to lack of information. The information flow is what I believe resulted to this,” Samura says.
He explained that the energy minister had held a consultative meeting with council members in late May seeking authorization for the relocation of one of two standby generators from Makeni to Lungi town.
The substitute generators are meant to supply electricity to Makeni town temporarily when the main Bumbuna hydropower that serves the entirety of the township breakdowns — a usual occurrence.
Samura says during the consultative meeting, they told the government that a week was needed by the council to enable them consult with the people — and will revert back to the minister.
“Unfortunately, after that meeting, the mayor, who was to head the consultation fell sick. She caught up with COVID-19, and she was at the treatment center for a month.
“So, we didn’t go through that particular consultation talking to the people. And then, the minister of energy, for their own side, again, didn’t get to us to know since we told them ‘to hold on, to talk to our people and get back to them’,” Samura says.
Samura hinted that the energy minister should have gotten back to the council to inquire about the status of the discussed project.
Rather, they just went ahead with the process of transporting the generator from Makeni.