June 7, 2019
By Regina Pratt
Thirty-six supporters of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) and Fifteen pupils who were involved in various allegations of riotous conduct and other charges were yesterday granted fifty million Leones bail with one surety each after they made their maiden appearance before Magistrate Hannah Bonnie, presiding at Pademba Road Court No.1
The fifteen pupils were arrested on 16th May, 2019 after they stormed the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) head office at Tower Hill and damaged property worth millions of Leones, while the 36 APC supporters were rounded up on Friday 31, May, during a standoff that ensued between them and police officers.
Lead defense Counsel, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara made an application for bail on behalf of the student rioters, noting that they have been in detention for three weeks.
Lawyer Kamara said his clients were still innocent until proven otherwise. He implored the magistrate to put them on bail, adding that they have been separated from their academic pursuit.
He also noted that the magistrate has not seen any affidavit filed before her that would deter the Bench to put the ‘rioters’ on bail.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Bonnie upheld the application of the defence and stated that the offences for which the accused are before him are serious, though bailable.
Thus, she put all the accused persons on Le50 million bail and one surety each. She ordered that each surety must be gainfully employed in Freetown and that they must produce their National Identity card which must be verified by the Deputy Assistant Registrar of the High Court.
The 15 students and three ordinary persons were charged with conspiracy, riotous conduct, disorderly behaviour, throwing missiles, and malicious damages contrary to the laws of Sierra Leone.
The particulars states that on Thursday May 16, 2019, at the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) complex, the accused maliciously damaged one vehicle with registration number APA 460 valued over three hundred million Leones.
Police also alleges that on Thursday, May 16, 2019, at WAEC head office and at the Sierra Leone Muslim Brotherhood Secondary School, the accused were caught in disorderly behaviour and throwing missiles.
Meanwhile, the charges for the 36 persons, mainly APC members were not read in court because some of the accused persons who were earlier put on police bail were not in court.
However, the lead counsel informed the Bench that his clients have gone for medical treatment.
The case of the pupils has been adjourned to 11th and 12th June, while the APC supporters’ case was adjourned to the 11th, 13th and 14th June, 2019.
All accused persons were represented by over 15 lawyers with Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, ex-Attorney General and Minister of Justice, leading.