In 2007, Ernest Koroma campaigned on the platform of a “New APC” which meant that the then APC of Pa Siaka Stevens in the 70s & 80s which trampled upon the rights of opposition members and other people who held a critical view of the then APC by throwing them into prisons and sometimes even killed them unjustifiably. In that deceitful campaign message, the people were fooled and voted in the APC with the help of Mr. Charles Margai. Not long after winning the elections the APC went back to its old days of human rights violations and abuse.
First, the one who substantially helped them to win the elections, Mr. Margai became their prey! He was arrested and detained unlawfully.
Once the elected VP Sam Sumana refused to support the President’s 3rd term agenda, he was ganged up against, demised from his party a party he had substantially helped to win the 2012 elections with the votes of the Kono people, and then subsequently sacked from his office as VP.
The old tricks of the APC could not be stopped as they got hold of a then-popular journalist, Tam-Baryoh and detained him unlawfully for being critical of the government.
From that point the APC became eager to get more people behind the bars in a bid to silence them. Their next stop was on the door of a renowned and respectable civil society activist in the person of Abdul Fatorma of CHARDI. He was arrested and detained for being critical of the APC dominated parliament.
And then they went for an Opposition Leader, Jasmed Suma of the NPD; he was unlawfully arrested charged to court and sent to Pademba road prisons. This was to tell other political party leaders that since the APC have woefully failed to feed the people and to provide quality education and affordable medical facilities, they are desperate to silence anyone who dares attempt to lay bare their unforgivable failures. No doubt they went for the head of one of their fiercest critics, Kamarainba Mansaray. They unlawfully arrested and detained him after APC thugs had defecated on his party premises and almost killed him without any charges from the police against those APC thugs.
APC stops at nothing to destroy free speech which the SLPP fought so hard to achieve and maintain. They chased out an innocent college girl, Theresa M’bomaya, arrested and detained her in the Pademba road prisons for merely sharing on WhatsApp a press release from unknown authors. This was after they had long sent Mahmoud Tim Kargbo a social and political commentator to the same prisons for being critical of the president.
Clearly, the APC has a long-standing track record of intimidating opposition members and people critical of their policies. They will use every institution to muzzle free speech.
Like all others, I have become their target for being critical of their failed policies. They have made the people of this country the hungriest since they took over! They have made Sierra Leone one of the most fearful places for youths to live in. They have made our staple food a privilege to get. Le250,000 for a bag of rice is nothing other than wickedness! Soon they will start giving monies to people to fool them for votes! These are all the issues they don’t want me to talk about. They want to silence me but I refused to be silent. I was duly elected and not selected so I owe my electorates a duty. Scripture says I should count it all joy for going through diverse trials and tribulations… For many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him from them all. I will continue to do my work within the confines of the law and with the fear of the Lord. I, therefore, re-affirm my commitment to do the job I was elected to do for the poor people of this country.
At this juncture let me take this opportunity to thank the entire membership at home and abroad of the SLPP and its leadership for standing by me during those horrific moments. Special thanks to my legal team for their fortitude and wisdom in representing me. I also thank those prison authorities who were very professional in handling me during my stay with them. I appreciate the humane treatment I got from them. I am equally grateful to civil society and human rights-based groups and organizations including the Human Right Commission, the media who showed care and concern over my illegal detention.
A very special thank you to the next president of this Republic, Rtd. Brid. Julius Maada Bio for your words of courage and for restoring hope to the thousands of marginalized and jobless youths of this nation.
Long live the SLPP!
Long live Unity!
Long live SL!
Lawrence Lahai Leema
National Publicity Secretary
Sierra Leone People’s Party.