By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Sierra Leone’s Independent Police Complaint Board (IPCB) has in a press statement on Monday said they have commenced preliminary investigations over the alleged shooting by security forces resulting in the killing of five people during a protest on Friday 19th July in Makeni , Northern Sierra Leone.
Residents in the Northern part of the country were protesting against the relocation of 1.65 megawatts thermal standby generator from the city, to temporarily service the airport town of Lungi when Police opened fire on protesters.
The IPCB in a release stated they were initiating the investigations on its own pursuant to Regulations 9 of the said regulation with a view to determining the conduct of the SLP personnel involved.
“The attention of the Independent Police Complaint Board (IPCB) has been drawn to fracas between some residents of Makeni City and security forces ,including personnel of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) allegedly resulting in the discharge of fire arms killing five (5) members of the civil populace and some others severely left wounded on Saturday 18th July , 2020 in Makeni City , Bombali District, ‘’the IPCB release stated.
According to IPCB, it was reported that some residents took to the streets to protest against an attempt by the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) to temporarily relocate a 1.65Mega Watts Thermal generator to Lungi Town in Portloko district.
“As provided for under Regulation 3(1) (c) of the IPCB Regulations, 2013 the IPCB is mandated to investigate among others ,”a shooting incident where a police officer has discharged a fire arm or killed a person’’
IPCB however assured the public that they will be informed of any development on the matter.
Mean while many civil society organisations ,rights groups and social movements have condemned the heavy handedness of the security forces and thus calling for an independent investigation into the incident in the northern part of the country.
Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) on Tuesday said in a statement that it strongly condemned the killing of civilians in Makeni and called for an immediate impartial investigation.
“Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) strongly condemns the recent killings of protesting civilians in the northern headquarter town of Makeni allegedly by the Sierra Leone Police . we are deeply disappointed by the alleged use of live bullets by the Sierra Leone Police to disperse unarmed civilian protesters . This action was uncalled for and could have been avoided,’’ NMJD said in a statement.
Director of Communications Renaissance Movement, Makmid Kamara, in an interview on local television Africa Young Voices expressed sympathy to the families and victims and called for accountability for the unlawful killings of compatriots urging the government for an immediate and independent investigations into the incident.
“As a movement we condemned all forms of violence and urged the young people across the country to channel their grievances to the relevant authorities in a peaceful and non-violent manner ,’’he said
Renowned human rights lawyer , Augustine Sorie -Sengbe Marrah wrote on his twitter “ There’s nothing wrong with removing standby generator from one place to another . what is unlawful and un justified is to shoot and kill those who protest such move (even if the protest is unreasonable ). What is also wrong is the Bar Association silent mode when compatriots are wasted….’’
However, government has called for calm and expressed sympathy for the lives loss and injuries that resulted in the Makeni saga.