The city of Bo yesterday came to a standstill during the early hours of the morning when APC party supporters went on the rampage and destroyed the opposition SLPP Party office.
According to reports the incident started some days before President Koroma visited the township for the conferment of degrees on Njala University College graduates.
Reports say that youth’s supporting the ruling APC went about the town painting street corners and roundabouts red and white. Allegedly the Mayor Dr Wusu Sannoh who was elected under the SLPP ticket accosted them and stopped them saying they did not obtain permission from him. Later reports say the APC youths went ahead with the painting claiming that it was an opposition SLPP attempt to stop them welcoming their leader – President Koroma.
Entering into the city of Bo will present a first impression on the minds of first-time visitors that red and white are now the national colours of Bo or Sierra Leone. The colours which can be found along the major junctions of the streets and roads replace the black and white, which are the prescribed traffic colours of the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA).
At the round-about of Tikonko road and coronation field road, the red and white colours are replacing the SLRA colours of black and white, whilst at the Bo clock tower, they are replacing the national colours of the nation’s flag – green, white and blue. At the Bojon Street, Mission road and Damballa Road roundabouts, the colours are replacing the black and white of SLRA.
Meanwhile the President reports say unveiled a portrait of himself, which was displayed at the clock tower before he left the City over the weekend.
During the early hours of Wednesday morning some unidentified youths are believed to have secretly gone with green paint and painted over the portrait of the President completely defacing it. This angered the APC supporters who decided to vent their frustration on the SLPP party office.
According to reports the first attempt was thwarted by the SSD led by Yete-yete who had cordoned off the whole area along Fenton Road. Later it was revealed the Resident Minister South came with a group of the APC supporters and reportedly asked the police to allow him to go to the SLPP office to see how he can mediate and make peace.
However eye witness reports say it was after the police had relaxed their security ring around the office to allow the Honourable Minister to reach the SLPP office, that the youths were able to gain access to the SLPP office and ended up ransacking the office before the police could stop them.
In the presence of Sierra Leone Police officers and Journalists, generators, computers and other equipment were carted away from the said office of the SLPP office with documents and chairs thrown out in the street.
With this development, offices, schools and institutions closed and parents had to run helter-skelter to get their children/wards to safety from school.
As an aftermath of the disturbances in the city of Bo, the Mayor Dr. Wusu Sannoh, Deputy Mayor Joe L. Pyne, and Secretary General J.B. Lahai were invited by the police. The Mayor who was visibly uncomfortable could not properly compose himself to talk to the media. He told journalists that he was taken to the police station on orders from the Regional Police Commander South and upon arrival was asked to wait until a statement is obtained from him and the others. The unsteady Mayor told journalists that windows and doors to his office were stoned at and broken by mobs, as a result of which he sustained a wound on the fourth finger of his left hand.
The police media officer told journalists that the people were under police custody for two reasons. One was to make a statement on an allegation made against them by Alie Kattisco, the APC Youth leader South that the Mayor and Executives had held a meeting at which they had planned to deface the President’s portrait. The second being to protect them from “further harassment in this town”, adding that they were to be under custody for the rest of the day.
As at press time the mayor and others had been released.
Meanwhile in Freetown Jacob Jusu Saffa, Secretary General of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) confirmed the complete vandalisation and looting of their regional office in Bo and the arrest of their top party officials.
Explaining to the press yesterday about the attack and what precipitated it, Mr Saffa said last week the colours of a few parks, roundabouts, streets, and the Bo Clock Tower were changed from its original national colours of green, white and blue to red, the APC colour.
Mr Saffa claimed that the repainting was done on the orders of the Resident Minister South, Musa Tarawalie, which he claimed amazed the people of Bo.
He continued that yesterday, the portrait of President Koroma at the Clock Tower was painted green, but stressed that “we were reliably informed that the painting of the portrait was carried out by APC thugs in order to establish a basis for their ensuing intimidating actions.”
With that painting, Mr Saffa continued, “APC thugs went mad and started harassing innocent people in the township. They forced their way into the Bo party office, looted property and vandalized several other items including furniture” The SLPP Secretary General further disclosed that the Bo district party chairman, Raymond Koba, his Secretary J.B Alieu, the Mayor Dr Wusu Sannoh and his deputy Joe Pyne were arrested and held at the Bo police station. Mr Saffa alleged that the vandalisation and looting were carried out in the presence of the police whom he said did very little to intervene and that when SLPP youths attempted to protect their office, the police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
“The party cannot continue to witness hooligans vandalizing its offices and intimidating our members whilst the police take no action. Even when actions are taken they are quickly reversed by orders from above. The SLPP are Sierra Leoneans and they have rights to state security,” he charged. By Bawoh Jenkins in Bo & Ishmael Bayoh