The peace and quiet of the City was again rudely disrupted by rival supporters of the APC and SLPP who engaged in another round of stone throwing and mayhem around the SLPP headquarters and the office of the Mayor at the Freetown City Council (FCC).
Eye witnesses allege that it was broad day light robbery, vandalism and beating of SLPP supporters by irate APC supporters, while the APC supporters allege that the SLPP supporters were about to prevent the Mayor from going to his office which is next door to the SLPP headquarters.
It was against the background of that rumor that reports say some irate APC supporters decided to launch a pre-emptive strike at the SLPP office.
The few SLPP supporters who were in their office reportedly responded to the stone throwing from the APC supporters who were seemingly hell bent on breaking into the SLPP office.
Reports say that things came to a headway after a man dressed in black and waving a pistol jumped over the SLPP fence which resulted in other supporters following his example and making their way into the SLPP building.
This led to the third comprehensive looting of the SLPP headquarters since the presidential elections of September 2007.
Some unlucky SLPP supporters who were found in the building were mercilessly beaten whilst those in charge of the canteen faced the wrath of the irate APC supporters. One female worker at the canteen who was among those arrested and loaded into a police pick-up van alleged that she was raped by the alleged attackers.
Despite the presence of the police, the building became the scene of bare faced looting carried out in a manner as if the police were not even around. The scene became more aggravated when about twenty two supporters hid themselves in the roof top fearing the merciless beating they had seen being meted to other supporters. Their freedom was later negotiated by UNIPSIL officers.
In a gangster movie style, the irate APC youths, in full view of the Police and some Military personnel jumped over the SLPP building fence whilst some hung on the windows of the building carting away anything they could lay hands on, including soft drinks crate.
On Friday, just after the commissioning of the East end Police clock tower, the two parties clashed leaving several supporters wounded and the offices of the SLPP and that of the Mayor pelted with stones.
Observers were worried about the alleged involvement of plain clothes men who were wielding pistols and rumoured to be part of the Presidential guard one of whom was applauded for any time he goes in and comes out of the SLPP building.
Two gun shots fired by the police to disperse the crowd eventually led to the closure of business houses in the central business district.
The opposition SLPP has said they would not be gauged by the ruling Government as they will continue to perform their role as an opposition. The civil society groups have also condemned the recent spate of violence in the country.
A local civil society group, the West Africa Network for Peace building- Sierra Leone (WANEP) recalled the President’s address on October 5, 2007 that the maintenance of law and order in the nation is a necessary ingredient for peace and tranquility in the country. They urged the leadership and membership of the two political parties to stay committed to the culture of peace in the best interest of Sierra Leone.
WANEP states that “we will no longer sit idly by and allow this country to be developed in a state of violence and reverse the gains that we have already fought for after eleven years war” By Ophaniel Gooding and Ishmael Bayoh