Over alleged Police brutality at IPAM: Police oversight body calls on the Sierra Leone Police to compensate victims.
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
The Sierra Leone Independent Police Complaint Board (IPCB) have called on the Sierra Leone Police to provide compensation to Fatmata Binta Jalloh and four others students that were manhandled by officers during last April’s riot between students at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) and the country ‘s police earlier this year .
Speaking during a media facilitation event last Friday 10th December, the programme and communications officer of IPCB, Amadu Femoh Sesay told journalists that following their findings into the alleged police brutality at IPAM, they concluded that the officers used and an unwarranted and excessive use of force on the students especially Fatmata Binta Jalloh and the four others thus the police oversight body recommending that the victims be entitled to compensation adding that the law enforcement officers acted contrary to the United Nations basic principles of the use of force and fire arm of a law enforcement agent.
‘’ On the 13th April 2021, the Independent Police complaint Board, initiated its own investigations into a video on social media that made rounds where a lady who was identified as Fatmata Binta Jalloh , a student of the Institute of Public Administration and Management , IPAM, was allegedly violently and brutally assaulted by a group of police officers at the entrance gate at IPAM and in the process her upper chest of stripped off naked by the arresting officers and also sustained serious bodily injuries and wounds,’’ he said.
The video of the alleged police brutality at IPAM drew criticisms from all quarters after the video emerge online thus prompting the police oversight body to mount an investigation over the incident with institutions like Campaign for Good Governance , LEGAL LINK , CAN including the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone urging the IPCB to do an investigations .
‘’ Following of the assessment available, the IPCB therefore concludes the following , that the violent confrontation between the student of IPAM and the Sierra Leone was due to administrative blunder on the side of the IPAM administrators by providing an untimely and inaccurate information to the student . The student broke into this action due to this above blunder on the university administrative,’’ Amadu Femoh Sesay added.
Sesay added that the factors that led to the incident at IPAM on 12th April 2021, was one among many others a long standing unresolved administrative issues affecting the welfare of the IPAM student thus calling on the administration to improve its administrative system in order to avoid such occurrence of the April incident.
‘’That the agent of the state of the Sierra Leone Police Inspector Abdul Bangura, Inspector Sheku Ganda used unwarranted and excessive force in apprehension of Fatmata Binta Bah particularly and four other in the course of their assigned duties eventually led to the manhandling of Fatmata Binta Bah and the aforesaid with sustained serious injuries and wound all over her body. That the use of tear gas to disperse the converged students in order to contained the situation necessary,’’ the IPCB concluded.
The Programme and communications officer revealed that there was no evidence of this investigation indicating that the lead victim Fatmata Binta Jalloh threw any offensive weapon, neither any sachet of water to any member of the Sierra Leone Police at the time of her arrest adding that the alleged offences against the arresting police by Fatmata where not propionate to the unwarranted and excessive use of force and the IPCB considers it as unprofessional act of an agent of the state Sierra Leone Police .
‘’ In view of the evidence gathered, IPCB therefore makes the following recommendations. One, to the director of public prosecution, that the DPP considers criminal charges against two above mentioned police officers as provided for under Regulations 25 of the IPCB Regulations of 2013 of the excessive use of force to the apprehension of Fatmata Binta Bah and the other four. Two, to the Executive Management Board of the Sierra Leone Police that the EMB of the Sierra Leone Police through the CDIID ,to embark on proactive measures to re affirm the need of professionalism in the performance of their duties,’’ the Police oversight body further recommended.
On his part, one of the victims of the IPAM riot Hamidu Sesay, now a past student of university said that what happened in the April earlier this between students of IPAM and the Sierra Leone Police was according to him a blunder on the part of the university administration adding that the riot occurred when the university released a list of students that didn’t go down well with them.
‘’ How on earth a class of over 300 students, you released a list of 60. It’s really unhealthy. The students firstly tried for the administration to look into it. we walk door to door to at least solve the issue but poor response from the administration made students left with no option than for them to use their own way which led to the riot in which so many unfortunate things happened ,’’he alleged.
He added that her colleague Fatmata Binta Jalloh who was beaten by the Sierra Leone happened in front of him adding that he was there to calm down the situation but ended up been arrested by the police because in his words ‘’ they saw me talking to my colleagues ‘’
When asked about his feeling with the release of the recommendations of the IPAM riot incident by the IPCB Board, he replied ‘’I really felt good because this is the first time justice is been served. I was not even expecting this because you know in Sierra Leone when something goes wrong they will find a way of forgetting about it but because of this, my reserved mind that I have gotten about our justice system has been cleared.
Hamidu Sesay welcomed the recommendations of the police oversight institution, whilst urging the Sierra Leone Police to provide the compensation as has been recommended by the outcome of the investigations to those affected especially Fatmata Binta Bah and therefore called on the over sight body to do follow up on the recommendations as it will help in strengthening the democratic institutions in the country.