January 10, 2017 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara & Hassan G. Koroma
An unknown gunman who had apparently joined scores of Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) protesters around the Law Court Building on Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown yesterday allegedly shot one Alfreda Yeama Kassay on the foot.
It could recalled that a faction in the main opposition party had filed an application in the High Court alleging that lower level elections were marred by serious irregularities that threaten the party’s structure.
While a battery of lawyers and party executives were assembled in court yesterday, rival supporters of the party gathered outside the court precinct chanting slogans.
Kassay was among the SLPP protesters who stood in front of the court building, chanting ‘PAOPA! POAPA! POAPA! as the matter was in progress in the High Court. Unconfirmed reports alleged that she was shot by a private bodyguard of a flag bearer aspirant, whose name was not available as we went to press.
The protesters, who marched towards the court building gates on State Avenue and Siaka Stevens Street, were prevented from entry by the police, who cordoned off the entrance of the court premises.
They were carrying placards with inscriptions ‘One SLPP One NEC’, ‘Enough is enough, we want peace in SLPP’, ‘Fet fet nor dae pay SLPP’ ‘one PRO for SLPP, one Lawrence Leema’, ‘President Koroma should settle SLPP case’, among others.
Despite the manhunt mounted by the police within the court premises, no arrest was made as we went to press.
Speaking to Concord Times at the Connaught Hospital, Kassay narrated that after the judge adjourned the matter, she went out of the court building and that as she tried to cross over to the next street, a man clad in black suit, who was among rival supporters engaged in a scuffle, pulled out a pistol and shot in the air, adding that the bullet caught her on the foot.
However, the Operation Officer at the Central Police Division, Assistant Superintendent Musa Bangura, told Concord Times that they have not received any report of the incident and that he could not comment on the matter as at that time.
Eyewitnesses say one Lawrence Thomas was caught with a knife during the riot and is helping the police with investigations.
Meanwhile, the matter which attracted scores of protesters to court could not proceed yesterday because the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-sei, had served the supplemental affidavit late in the morning, with the defendants’ lawyers needing time to browse through and filing a reply.
On that ground, Umaru Napoleon Koroma asked for an adjournment until Wednesday with the view that they would also serve a supplemental affidavit in opposition.
Lawyer Koroma also told the court that most of their clients come from the provinces, thus urging the court to expedite the matter, adding that lawyers on the other side were yet to pay cost awarded by the court last month.
Justice Babatunde Edwards cautioned both sides to be cooperative with the court as he intended to expedite the matter.
The substantive case before the court is due to start on Wednesday, 11 January 2017.
The plaintiffs in the matter are Alusine Bangura, Alex Kargbo and Victor Sheriff. They had filed the suit against the party’s National Chairman and Leader, Secretary General and four Vice Regional Chairpersons, who supervised the conduct of the 10th December lower level elections.