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The Demonstration That Never Was

By Abdul Hassan Fackie,
Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The mood in Freetown on Thursday September 19th, 2019 was very sombre as Sierra Leoneans held their breath in expectation of a nationwide demonstration that was to have been staged by a group calling itself Concerned Sierra Leoneans.

In anticipation of the planned demonstration, the Serra Leone Police had deployed truckloads armed Operational Support Division (OSD) Police Officers the previous night with instructions not to allow any demonstrators on the streets of Freetown. 

In a lot of written and voice messages that had been doing the rounds on social media, mostly Facebook and WhatsApp, for close to weeks, the organisers of the planned demonstration stated that they wanted to demonstrate against what they referred to as the grinding hardship in the country as well as rampant human rights abuses they claimed were being perpetrated by the Government.

Two weeks to the planned demonstration, the Police Spokesman, Superintendent Brima Kamara, told Sierra Leoneans in different radio stations that they had previously invited the organisers of the planned demonstration to apply for Police permission as well as meet with the Police High Command in order to discuss the details of the demonstration but that nobody had showed up to talk with them. 

He revealed that about four days to the planned demonstration they intercepted social media discussions with some citizens claiming to be the organisers in which they were planning on how they will burn down banks, Government buildings, business houses, schools and colleges, kill politicians, Police Officers, Magistrates and Judges as well as attack the State House and Parliament. He revealed that they had already arrested five of the ring leaders of this diabolic plan including the leader one Mr. Yusif Turay. 

Superintendent Brima Kamara maintained that while all Sierra Leoneans have the right to protest and demonstrate they have to go through some procedures like applying for permission from the Police, declaring their membership and adhering to the routes that the Police will give them and make sure that they do not carry weapons of any kind nor use insulting, inciting, defamatory or libellous language or songs while processing. 

He disclosed that their investigation revealed that Concerned Sierra Leoneans is not even a registered organization in Sierra Leone. 

A cross section of Sierra Leoneans 40 Acres Canada spoke to on the day of the planned demonstration condemned such a demonstration in the strongest terms, referring to it as an illegal body that wanted to undertake an illegal activity. They commended the Police for being proactive and for exposing the subversive objectives of the Concerned Sierra Leoneans.

This medium was unable to get a reaction from the Concerned Sierra Leoneans as they neither have an office in the country nor has any individual or group of persons openly come out to claim ownership of the organization.