February 20, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi
It took the intervention of armed riot police men yesterday to disperse rival supporters of intending flag-bearer candidates of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party at their national headquarters on Wallace-Johnson Street in Freetown.
The rowdy gang of youth was apparently engaged in fisticuffs over where to mount portrait of former flag-bearer, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.
Bio is being challenged by motley of aspirants, including Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, who is currently working for the United Nations, and it is not uncommon for rival supporters to exchange words or blows whenever they face each other.
The Bio camp has blamed their beleaguered Chairman and Leader, Chief Somano Kapen, but he has denied any responsibility. Chief Kapen said though he was in his office yesterday when the clashes occurred, he was not at the scene when another faction stormed the building to remove the portrait of Mr. Bio.
“I was told about the development, this is unacceptable. But I know one of the trustees of the party took tugs to the SLPP office just to tarnish my character. This time I will nip the nail on the board because I am tired with all of these fiascos within the party and its members,” he said.
Asked about his intended actions against the attackers, Chief Kapen said he was yet to figure out any action but promised to inform the media as and when necessary.
“As chairman if I want to remove that portrait from the party office, I will discuss that in an executive meeting, that is how a gentleman behaves,” he concluded.
Despite his claims of innocence, some party stalwarts have alleged that Chief Kapen took a group of tugs to the secretariat yesterday to carry out the operation.
The Administrative Officer of the SLPP, Alhaji Brima Koroma, claimed he saw Chairman Kapen with a group of men in his office before the incident started.
“It is unfortunate that we are still experiencing such an unacceptable action by senior members of the party. We were all here when the boys came; three of them were arrested and handed over to the police by our guards,” claimed Alhaji Koroma. “In fact two of them were arrested with daggers on them. Since the chairman escaped from this office, we have not seen him. He masterminded all of these actions against Maada Bio.”
He said police reinforcement had been deployed at the party’s secretariat, which has been the scene of previous intra-party skirmishes, and confirmed the portrait of Bio was not destroyed by the assailants.
His claim against the party’s chairman has not been independently verified.