Supporters of the ruling All Peoples’ Congress (APC) and the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) clashed again on Friday at the SLPP headquarters on Lightfoot Boston street which left the vehicle of the SLPP secretary general and another burnt down and that of the vehicle Resident Minister East burnt.
The clash reportedly came about after the Freetown City Council (FCC) had opened the renovated clock tower at East end Police.
Eye witness account states that a jubilant group from the Eastend Police clock tower was escorting the Mayor to his office which is just a stone throw from the SLPP headquarters. An altercation ensued between the group and some supporters of the SLPP. The account further stated that stones were thrown from all angles on the party office of the SLPP and the Mayor’s office.
Another account is that whilst the function was going on at Eastend Police, fighting erupted between supporters of APC and SLPP. It is said a group of supporters from the APC were replying to the SLPP chant of “bar nya clocky” meaning don’t clock, with “bar nya reality”.
Also, it is said some SLPP supporters blocked the Mayor’s route that none could pass through and that caused the fighting. The windows of both buildings were broken, two vehicles that were parked in the compound of the SLPP building were set ablaze and several people were said to have been wounded including the newly elected SLPP Western Area chairman Lansana Fadika.
The security commander in the SLPP office, who did not disclose his name stating security reasons, explained that it was around 5pm on Friday when they saw some supporters of the APC coming towards the office in a merry mood dancing after opening the clock tower. He said the traditional Matorma masked devil was also part of the dance with people wearing the traditional Ronko war cloth and brandishing cutlasses dancing along with the devil which was being led by the Mayor.
The commander further explained that the dancing group attempted to enter the SLPP party office but were blocked by them that they should not enter the office. “We were able to control the situation until they went down the FCC office but when they were returning, they also attempted to enter the office and again we stood our ground. Their songs he said were spiced with abusive languages against the SLPP”.
He further explained that there were over 1,000 of the dancers who regrouped to unleash terror on the party office as stones that were parked at the building site of the FCC office were used to stone the party office. “We were stoned and they were forcing their way in to the party office. What they used to burn down the party secretary general’s vehicle was a petrol bomb which they climbed on the wall of the building and threw on the vehicle.
Foday Government Wharf, whose name came up as the master mind who led the group to attack the SLPP office denied to Awoko that he was at the scene saying he was at the house of the Labor Minister at Lumley when he was told about the incident.
In Kenema the official vehicle of the Resident Minister East Hon. William Juana Smith ADF O55 was on Friday night 13th March 2009 set on fire. The vehicle is packed at the veranda of one of the buildings at the Resident Minister’s compound along Mahei Vangahun road in Kenema.
The entire compound is fenced but with no security or barbed wire on top of the fence. The fire was set between the two front tyres and the back tyres. None of the tyres was deflated but some parts of the vehicle were burnt.
According to the media officer at the Kenema police division Simbo C. told Awoko that the two police officers who were on duty at the Resident minister’s residence are currently in police custody while the investigation continuous.
Local Unit Commander (LUC) East Ag. AIG Al-Shek Kamara told Awoko over the phone that in the early hours of the morning somebody or a group of persons crept into the compound of the Resident Minister and set fire to his official vehicle. Part of the vehicle was burnt he said and ventured that the act could likely have been connected with the incident in Freetown. He however reported that Kenema was calm and he had instituted preventive measures to maintain the peace even from Friday night when the clashes happened in Freetown.
Just last week, both parties again clashed at a village called Sorogbema in Pujehun district ahead of the bye-elections, which have been postponed by NEC as a consequence of the clashes.