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Christian clerics remanded for violating 3-day lockdown

SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 By Victoria Saffa and Hawa Amara

Two pastors – Zainab Cole and Iyelarah Cole – who were arrested by the police last Sunday (21 September) for allegedly holding congregational service in their church, were yesterday remanded at the maximum security prison on Pademba Road by Magistrate Komba Kamanda of Freetown Magistrates’ Court No.2.

The duo, pastors at the Total Restoration Outreach Ministry at Peacock Farm, Wellington in the east of the city, were arraigned on one count of being found at a public meeting, contrary to Regulation 15(1) of the Emergency Regulations of 2014.

The prosecution alleges that the accused persons on 21 September, at No.91 Peacock Farm, Wellington, were found holding a public meeting that was not related to Ebola sensitization.

Police Inspector Conteh S. told the court that at around 12:45 local time, on the said date, they got a tip-off from members of the community that a service was going on in the church.

“We met the first accused (Zainab) in the church preaching and they were over 15 in number. They made a confessional statement to the police,” he said.

However, the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the offence.

Defence counsel M.S. Navo applied for bail on behalf of his clients on the grounds that the accused didn’t open their church, but instead were keeping service in their house.

However, Magistrate Kamanda refused the accused persons bail, staying that the country is under a state of emergency and that people must abide by the law.

The matter was adjourned to 29 September.

It could be recalled that the entire country was closed down from Friday to Sunday 19-21 September as part of efforts to defeat the Ebola virus which is spreading in the country. People were told to stay in-doors, including on Friday and Sunday, the special day of worship for Christians and Muslims respectively.

The edict enraged some religious leaders in the country who condemned the decision of government to close public places of worship for the first time in the country’s history, although a large majority accepted the restriction and largely stayed away from mosques and churches.

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