Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Elizabeth Alpha-Lavalie of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party yesterday told a well-attended Parliamentary session that the recent fire incidents in the southern Pujehun district are purely political.
This runs contrary to the version by Inspector General of Police, Brima Acha Kamara who said the incidents were as a result of some family feuds.
She claimed to have gone to the district some time ago and was blocked by a group of vigilantes. The SLPP parliamentarian went on to say that the group told her they were working under the auspices of one Momoh Foh and that they would not let her enter the village.
Hon. Alpha-Lavalie said that in one village, which she did not name, “if you are an SLPP supporter you are dead,” adding that the unnamed village had been attacked five times by arsonist.
“They are using the ruse to intimidate us” she said.
Minister of Internal Affairs, Pascal Egbenda, who was also in Parliament to talk about the current arson attacks, agreed that political intolerance and rivalry were some of the reasons advanced for the burning of houses in the south.
However, he went on to say that deliberations in meetings of the Provincial Security Committee (PROSEC), South had cited “accumulated grudges over chieftaincy and other related family issues and cases of land disputes as reasons for the arson attacks.”
Pascal Egbenda said that in a recent meeting in Pujehun attended by the Inspector General, some political activists had made reports to the police, which they alleged were not investigated, though the Police denied the allegation.
But the minister pointed out that where people have lost confidence in the Police they have the tendency of taking the law into their own hands.
He said a multi-agency committee had been set up to address and find a solution to the problem.
He said the Sierra Leone police had increased deployment of its intelligence unit to ensure efficient intelligence-gathering. They have also set up a vigilante task force and a neighbourhood neighborhood watch made up of police, traditional leaders and affected communities to defend their villages and communities.