Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – A 42-year-old herbalist, identified as Issa Fullah, is facing serious allegations of abusing women within the confines of his shrine, leading to his arrest and subsequent detention at the Mile-91 Police Division. The arrest, made on February 6, 2024, comes in the wake of disturbing videos circulating on social media, revealing Fullah engaging in intimate acts with multiple women.
Pa Manchawill, the ceremonial chairman of the Council of Traditional Healers Sierra Leone, disclosed that the incident unfolded in Ansarul town. According to his account, Fullah’s actions were brought to light when he took his Android phone for maintenance to a technician named Ishmail. During the maintenance process, Ishmail stumbled upon videos showcasing sexual encounters involving several women from Mile-91 town. Shockingly, the herbalist had also photographed over 70 women, including images of himself and his wife.
Fullah, in his defence, referred to himself as a herbalist and claimed to possess documents registered under the name Ishaka in Makeni, Bombali district, Sierra Leone, distancing himself from the Council of Traditional Healers Sierra Leone.
Ishmail, the technician, revealed that he also saw his elder brother’s wife in the compromising videos and photos. After coding the phone to restore its functionality, he overheard conversations in the videos from Fullah’s phone, leading to the discovery of the dissemination of explicit content to WhatsApp groups and internationally to relatives in the United States.
The revelation sparked controversy and shame among the women involved, prompting them to hide and causing unrest in the Mile-91 community. Local inhabitants, angered by the violation of their loved ones, demanded action, even threatening to burn Fullah’s house if the police failed to intervene. The police managed to de-escalate the situation, resulting in Fullah’s immediate arrest and detention at the Mile-91 police division.
The videos depict Fullah engaging in sexual acts with women unknowingly being recorded with his phone. Some stakeholders in the community believe that Fullah possesses extraordinary powers in traditional practices, adding another layer to the controversy.
The aftermath of the incident has instilled fear among married women and those in relationships in the town, leading some to relocate to other villages or towns. A victim’s sister shared the heart breaking story of a proposed marriage being called off within an hour of explicit videos going viral.
In response to the incident, a song titled “You face de insai de” has emerged, becoming a popular saying among youths in Mile-91. The song, featuring a combination of Krio and Temne lyrics, condemns the herbalist’s illicit actions and explores the theme of women seeking herbalists for various needs. The song implies a divide in attitudes towards herbalists, suggesting that women in Mile-91 favour them while those in the capital Freetown or larger towns do not.
As investigations continue in the Mile-91 police division, Chief Superintendent of Police Michael JK Laggah confirmed that Fullah and his co-suspect are in police custody. The community awaits the outcome of the ongoing investigation, hoping for justice to be served. AJ/13/2/2024