- SLPP Western Area Chairman
April 8, 2015 By Victoria Saffa
Western Area Chairman of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Hon. Manso Dumbuya, has described his and the arrest of 18 party members last Sunday as politically motivated.
The opposition stalwart said they were arrested by the police at his residence in Allen Town, east of Freetown, while they were in a meeting with zonal heads in his constituency to raise funds to support children orphaned by the Ebola outbreak.
“Late noon on Easter day, we were in the mid of the meeting when police officers stormed the compound and arrested us,” he told reporters in Freetown immediately after their release.
Hon. Dumbuya said they were detained for over 24 hours before they were released on bail after the intervention of senior opposition party members.
He said the police told him they were arrested as a result of unlawful public gathering, but he retorted that, “My house is not a public place and therefore the police had no right to arrest us. I am a member of the Ebola Task Force of the All Political Parties Association (APPA), and had held similar meetings in the past.”
He expressed dismay over the manner they were treated at the police station, noting that twenty-three (23) of them were placed in a tiny and poorly ventilated cell, which he opined could help spread the Ebola virus.
Dumbuya said part of their bail condition stipulates that they should report to the police station today, although he insisted they were ready to prove that their arrest was unlawful.
Deputy Chairman and Leader of the SLPP, Dr. Prince Alex Harding, has called on the government to stop provoking his party members.
He accused the government of using Public Health Emergency regulations to curtail freedom of expression and association in the country.
“Government is overusing the health emergency to intimidate the opposition,” he said. “We know APC groups gathering all over the place, but no one has ever arrested them, but when SLPP members gather, police would start arresting us.”
Dr. Harding added that since the opposition party announced they would demonstrate against the “unconstitutional removal of the Vice President from office”, the government has become jittery, and they were now using the police to intimidate them.
Meanwhile, Regional Police Commander Freetown East, AIG Memunatu Jalloh, declined to comment on the arrest of the opposition members.
However, a senior official at the Ross Road police station who declined to be named informed Concord Times that the men were arrested for illegal public gathering. He did not elaborate as to whether they would be charged to court.