The public may recall that on Monday, 1st May 2023, the Presidential candidate for the All Peoples’ Congress (APC) party; Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara was nominated at an event held at the ECSL Headquarters in Freetown. On nomination day, there was a standoff between supporters of the APC and security forces. Following this event, the leadership of the APC raised concerns through the regulator; the Political Parties Regulations Commission (PPRC). The concerns relate to allegations of uneven treatment meted on APC supporters by forces. It is against this background that the PPRC Chairman; Mr. Abdulai Masiaday Bangura Esq. in collaboration with the National Security Coordinator, Office of National Security (ONS); Mr. Abdulai Caulker and the Inspector General of Police; Mr. William Fayia Sellu, summoned a meeting held at the ONS Conference Hall on Monday, 8th May, 2023.

Other persons present at the meeting were Madam Yvonne Aki-Sawyer (former Mayor, FCC), the National Secretary General, APC; Mr. Lansana Dumbuya Esq., the National Organizing Secretary (APC); Mr. Bia Mamoud Bangura, the Publicity Secretary (APC); Mr. Sidie Yayah Tunis, PPRC and ONS staff.

In his opening statement, the PPRC Chairman expressed that the purpose of the meeting was to objectively discuss the concerns raised by the leadership of the APC with a view to strengthening collaboration and cooperation between the APC and the Security Sector. He furthered that at a radio engagement he recently had, it was alleged that the FCC Mayoral Aspirant for the APC had also raised similar concerns of uneven treatment meted out by security forces against her supporters on the day of her nomination. The Former Mayor, FCC however refuted the allegation and stated that her nomination was a peaceful event and had no concerns in that regard whatsoever. The issue was therefore omitted from the agenda and therefore no further discussions were held on the issue. The chairman however opened up the meeting and invited various speakers to make their comments on the issue to be deliberated on.

The National Secretary General, APC explained and confirmed that on the day for the nomination of the APC Presidential candidate, there was a brief standoff between supporters of the APC and some security forces along the national Library Board vicinity leading to the ECSL office. According to him, APC supporters had gone to accompany the candidate to the nomination centre at the ECSL. The NSG alleged that certain police personnel are always quick to direct venom against supporters of the APC whenever policing functions of the APC. He further alleged that complaints made by the APC are not seriously treated, while those against the APC are swiftly investigated and charged to court, even where evidence does not exist. The NSG also ceased the opportunity to inquire about the status of his arrested vehicle and investigations during the incident at Hill Station when the APC was returning to Freetown from its convention held in Makeni City. He ended up recommending that police officers who have in the past shown bias against the APC should not be allowed to provide security at APC functions in the future and that efforts must be made to improve on trust and mutual relationship among the various stakeholders.

In her explanation, the Former Mayor, FCC narrated an ordeal her driver allegedly suffered from in the hands of security forces and requested that the police return her laptop which was allegedly confiscated in the process.

In his contribution, the National Secretary General, APC corroborated the statement made by the NSG. He gave a narrative of what he personally went through and described what happened to the APC on that day as an ambush. According to him, the APC leadership did not know that only twenty party faithfuls should accompany Presidential aspirants to the ECSL during the nomination of candidates. He however expressed satisfaction over the security provision during the return to Freetown of the APC Presidential aspirant after the Convention in Makeni.

In his statement, the National Security Coordinator, Office of National Security, Mr. Abdulai Caulker expressed that he was pleased with the dialogue session between the Security Sector and a cross section of the APC leadership. Emphasizing on the relevance of the rule of law, the NSCoord encouraged all and sundry to follow due process whenever the need arises. He also expressed the need for follow-ups on investigations to be made so as to ensure that there are no backlogs on cases. He encouraged the APC leadership to always ensure that supporters abide by the rules whenever they are required to. He further reminded the APC that, like other political parties, they have signed up to several non-violence and peace communiques which must be respected by all and at all times. He informed the meeting that evidence of what transpired on the nomination day in question was monitored and taken record of. The NSCoord also informed the meeting that the Security Sector will be shortly holding a meeting with all registered political parties on non-violence before the commencement of campaigns. He concluded by stating that the Security Sector is poised to curb lawlessness and indiscipline, encouraged all to remain law abiding and pledged the Sector’s commitment to providing the level playing field for all to function without fear of favour.

Responding to the concerns raised by the APC, the IGP assured that the concerns will be treated as management information and will be looked into. He also pledged the SLP’s commitment in providing the level playing field for all to function well.

Closing the meeting, the Chairman, PPRC stated that as a Commission, their concerns is towards the stability of political parties, since political parties will be there forever, unlike leaders that come and go.

A key takeaway from the meeting was that effective immediately and going forward, there will be the establishment of effective lines of communication between the security sector and all political parties before, during and after all political events.

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