While they condemned in the strongest terms the violence that took place over the weekend in Makeni, Members of Parliament from Bombali District have demanded immediate investigation into the killing of four youth allegedly by security personnel.
"We the Members of Parliament (MPs) from Bombali district condemn, in the strongest of terms, the violence that took place in Makeni city from Friday 17th to Saturday 18th July, 2020, which has led to the needless loss of lives and destruction of properties. We are particularly disturbed by, and we expressly deplore the (unprovoked) use of excessive and disproportionate lethal force by police and military personnel against unarmed protesters exercising their civic rights.
On Friday Mid night, youth in Makeni went on the rampage after officials of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) attempted to remove a standby generator and relocate it to Lungi in the Port Loko District.
A public notice issued by the Ministry of Energy states that,the ministry held consultative meetings with stakeholders in Makeni, including but not limited to the Mayor and her Deputy, the Provincial Secretary North, Representatives of the AIG , Media Groups and Civil Society Groups prior to the decision to relocate the plant.
They stated that the issue of the relocation of the thermal plant was clearly presented and discussed in those stakeholders' meetings and that government further assured all stakeholders that despite the relocation, Makeni would continue to enjoy uninterrupted supply of power from the Shield Wire Arrangement along the 161kv Line from the Bumbuna Hydroelectric Station.
But the MPS from Bombali stated that, if there was a proper and adequate dialogue with and sensitisation of the community, there would have been full understanding of the rationale for government to relocate the city's backup generator to another region.
"Such critical engagement would have ensured everybody's participation in Makeni, a city which has always been peaceful. Noting with grave concern the allegation that the police made certain arrests of individuals from their houses, we hereby caution the police to be humane and respectful of the rights of individuals in their custody and not to subject them to torture and ill treatment. We also hereby remind Security Personnel that as per their statutory responsibility in any democratic state, they are bound to defend and protect the lives and properties of citizens," they said.
The MPs expressed disappointment with what they believed was the Ministry of Energy's insensitivity to the situation regarding the rush and odd time (late night of 17th July 2020) that the officials (from EDSA) went to remove the 1.65 Mega Watts backup generator from the electricity station in Makeni.
"Such rush and odd timing only fed into the suspicion created by the lack of adequate stakeholders' and community engagement on the issue. While calling on our people in Makeni to continue maintaining the peace for which are well known for; we implore the full attention of National and International human rights organizations to this most unacceptable loss of lives and maiming of protesters. Meanwhile we urge the SLPP Government of President Julius Maada Bio to promptly institute an independent, impartial and effective inquiry into that violent siege on Makeni city and to ensure that perpetrators face the full force of the law," they urged.
On their part, the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) claimed that preliminary investigations by the Police report that the structure of the party's building in Makeni was extensively damaged, and furniture and other fittings were either vandalised or destroyed.
The SLPP called on the All People's Congress party and other political parties to unconditionally, vehemently, and immediately condemn the act of violence directed at the regional offices of a democratic political party and to fully dissociate itself from all persons and groups of persons who instigated or carried out this violence.
"The SLPP also urges all the All People's Congress and other political parties to publicly support speedy investigations by the Police and prosecutions to bring to justice all financiers, instigators, organisers, and perpetrators of these reprehensible acts of violence. These violent attacks that target and terrorise peaceful political parties and peaceful citizens are unjustifiable and criminal and are not in the long term interests of peace, democracy, and development in Sierra Leone. The SLPP further calls on the international community and development partners to condemn these malicious acts of violence and to urge all political parties, members, associates, supporters, and sympathisers to desist from all acts that undermine the peace and security of this country," they urged.
Meanwhile, the city of Makeni has been placed under indefinite curfew by the Sierra Leone Police while investigations are ongoing.