Socialize

“Tearing Billboards of Political Candidates is an Offence”

…Says CCYA boss

November 9, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai

tearing

CCYA’s Ngolo Katta has condemned youth political violence ahead of the 2018 elections

Executive Director at the Centre for Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA), Ngolo Katta, has opined that the Public Elections Act of 2012 criminalises tearing billboards and posters of political parties and candidates.

Mr. Katta was speaking in the wake of clashes between rival youth political activists following the alleged tearing of billboards and posters of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) and main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) on Monday

In an exclusive interview with this medium at his Gabriel Street office in Freetown, he warned against tearing billboards and posters of political parties and candidates, thus calling on law enforcement agents to take action against the perpetrators.

“This should not be based on political parties, it should be based on the rule of law. There should be a level playing field for all political parties. Citizens who break the law must be apprehended and charged to court. Unfortunately, the police have not been able to do that but would instead start firing tear gas around places and in the process arrest people who never took part in such ugly offenses,” he said.

Mr. Katta said the action of tearing billboards by youth is worrisome because Sierra Leone has a huge population of uneducated and unemployed young people who have found their way to urban areas from across the country.

 “They have already found themselves in a situation where they are manipulated and instigated by politicians. There is a high level of lawlessness among young people in Sierra Leone especially at a time when we are very close to the forthcoming elections,” he said.

According to the CCYA boss, the country has encouraged impunity as a result of sentiments and interests, with the support of political leaders and state institutions.

He called on political leaders to condemn political violence not just by issuing press releases or speaking on the radio, but discussing the issues critically and finding solutions to them.

“Intolerance is not among young people but political leaders in the country. Whilst we see them romancing, wining and dining in public places because they want to show that they are at variance with ideologies, they are also creating an embarrassing situation because they are supposed to show good signs as to how they would rule Sierra Leone if they gain power,” he said.

He said political leaders must be held responsible for the level of intolerance in the country because their manner of approach to young people and the language they speak to them are inciting.

He urged the Office of National Security (ONS) to be more strategic during the electioneering period as he recalled that in 2007, at the height of the elections, the ONS organised a security conference that brought together stakeholders, including political actors, to speak on security issues.

Meanwhile, Mr. Katta condemned some paramount chiefs who recently declared their support for the ruling party publicly, adding that they should be neutral and encourage pluralistic political participation in their chiefdoms so that their subjects would feel free to participate in politics without fear of favour and duress.