As a result of the direct intervention of the United Nations Peace Building Office and stakeholders in Sierra Leone, top executives of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) including former President Tejan Kabbah have visited their ransacked office in dismay, disappointment and frustration.
The entire headquarters of the SLPP was completely ransacked during the recent political violence, and the United Nations Executive Representative of the Secretary General (UN-ERSG) Michael von der Schulenburg says he was shocked and dismayed over the level of damage done to the SLPP office during his conducted tour of the building.
“This is unacceptable in any democratic state, as it will seriously affect the image of Sierra Leone internationally, considering the level of progress that has been made to maintain peace and tranquility in the country”
Schulenburg said political parties need to inculcate the culture of tolerance, so as to move the country forward and urged party loyalists and their leaders to work in the interest of the nation and forget about inciting political violence among supporters, which have the tendency to derail the hard won peace in Sierra Leone.
“We at the UN have met both APC and SLPP stalwarts on the just ended political violence so as to bridge the gap with the view of signing an agreement between the two political parties and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC).”
Former President Kabbah was also shocked and dismayed by the level of destruction starting from the gate, where the white washed fence of the SLPP had a black inscription of the APC.
The former president struggled through the steps as he entered every room right to the top floor of the building where the radio was located, he held his nose for a while due to the stench of the blood of rape victims and used condoms scattered around the entire conference room.
Kabbah said “this is intolerable in democratic principles are these people crazy or lawless? This type of violence is politically motivated, and perpetrators must be brought to justice to avoid future reoccurrence” he stressed.
Kabbah was emotionally shocked as he peruses the entire building in agony and disappointment with a cross section of top party executives and stalwarts, as toilet bowls were not even spared by the looters he complained.
Top executives of the SLPP and some party loyalists converged at the SLPP office to assess the level of destruction. These SLPP members included Joe Blell, Momodu Koroma, Maada Bio, Dr. J.D Rogers, Dr Kadi Sesay, Alhaji Swarray Deen, and Dr. John Karimu among others.
Chairperson of the Independent Media Commission Bernadette Cole also toured the Unity Radio room to ascertain the level of damages done to the radio, as most of the equipments were carted away and the studio completely damaged.
She however expressed disappointment and dismay over the attack on the Unity Radio.
The National Chairman of SLPP John Oponjo Benjamin after a conducted tour of the ransacked building said “the ruling APC is using thugs and security personnel to intimidate, harass, loot and also rape women, they do not want any vibrant opposition”.
As a party we want a qualified apology from the APC leadership or else we will take action against the government for failing to protect the lives and properties of ordinary Sierra Leoneans who became victims of the political violence.
John Benjamin also expressed dismay over the Police as he alleged that Police Officers were also involved in looting and damaging the SLPP office noting that the arrival of state house security compounded the situation which gave way to APC supporters to enter the building armed with sticks and machetes.
“As you can see the building everything was damaged and looted by the APC but we at the SLPP are not violent at all, considering the fact that we have never, ever provoked or attacked any supporter or properties belonging to the ruling APC”, he complained.
He wholeheartedly condemned hooliganism in politics and advised all SLPP supporters to remain calm and peaceful as the party has already started operation and cleaning of the building will commence soon.
He however appealed for both moral and financial support in rehabilitating the office and the provision of furniture’s.