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Police brutality against ‘Okada’ riders condemned

May 22, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi & Victoria Saffa

Recent unprofessional conduct by some personnel of the Sierra Leone Police is well documented and has often raised huge outcry across the country.

It is quite common to see police officers brandishing crude instruments, such as rattan, as they chase commercial bike riders, locally known as ‘Okada’ riders, with reckless abandon.

A group of traffic police officers were yesterday seen moving along Krootown Road, Adelaide Street and Siaka Stevens Street, chasing ‘Okada’ riders.

The action of the police led to two major accidents along Krootown Road.

A 45-year-old woman was physically pushed off a motorbike around Kingtom Bridge.

“I was on top of a bike along Krootown road heading towards Kingtom Bridge when two police officers on top of another motorbike pushed me. I fell in front of a car; it was only with God’s protection that I am alive today,” the woman narrated her ordeal.

Musa Sesay, a bike rider, was another victim of the seemingly crude policing tactic employed by our somewhat overzealous traffic police officers. He was almost crushed to death by policeman riding a motorbike and in hot pursuit.

“How can the police continue to get away with all their actions in Sierra Leone? This hostility must stop! The Sierra Leone Police are meant to protect lives and property of Sierra Leoneans and not to subjugate, humiliate and systematically annihilate them,” James Kargbo, a resident of Krootown Road ranted.

It could be recalled that in October 2014, the Police allegedly caused the gruesome death of one Alpha Jalloh as he was chased for plying his bike around the Central Business District. His ‘avoidable but untimely death’ was said to have been orchestrated by an overzealous police man on duty who reports say violently chased and afterward shoved him into the path of a moving truck, which smashed his head.

“The Police should not be allowed to create an environment that will actively foster civil unrest in the country, especially in a time when the country is grappling with curtaining the outbreak of Ebola,’’ said Mabinty Kamara.

‘’We are making a clarion call on President Ernest Koroma to stop the Sierra Leone Police from intimidating, harassing, extorting, brutalizing and causing the death of bike riders in Freetown and its environs,’’ echoed Olufemi Williams.

“The Police hierarchy should be scolded for allowing its rank and file to turn their guns and sticks against bike riders,” said Esther Fofana, a passer-by.

“It is not a matter or a case of waging war against the police. Rather, it is all about the inalienable right of a people – a right recognized by the laws of Sierra Leone, and in the final analysis, a right to survival, and human dignity of a people,’’ said Ibrahim Sorie, a bike rider.

Despite the furore which their crude actions elicit, the police hierarchy would always support their men, blaming victims, including innocent pillions, who sustain injuries caused by the police.

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