Yusuf Caulker, a 23-year-old man of Portee in Freetown, who is the first accused of the ongoing Anti-Election Protest case, has presented his defence denying his involvement in the protest.
According to Caulker, he was sleeping in his room when he was arrested on Tuesday, June 13, 2023.
The accused is standing trial together with four others for alleged participation in an unlawful assembly, engaging in riotous conduct, and throwing projectiles during an anti-election protest on Tuesday, June 13, 2023.
The protest allegedly involved the display of placards with messages such as “Election Commission (ECSL) boss must go” at Portee Junction in the eastern part of Freetown.
Caulker provided his account of the events leading up to his arrest. He stated that after his daily work at the Portee Wharf, where he offloads and packs boats, he returned home, laundered his clothes, and hung them on the veranda railing before retiring to rest.
The accused claimed that he was abruptly awakened by the sound of people running, and, to his surprise, police officers from the Operational Support Division (O.S.D) entered his room, striking him with their firearms and instructing him to exit the premises.
Caulker went on to describe how the officers took him and several others to Portee Junction in a police van without specifying the reasons for their detention. He added that they were subsequently transported to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters, where he was charged with riotous conduct, leading to his detention for twenty-one days.
Under cross-examination by Police Sergeant M. Lahai, Caulker clarified that he was indeed arrested in his room, and he was alone at the time of his arrest. In response to questions about his relationship with Junior Kabia, Caulker affirmed that Kabia had been a long-time friend – almost like an elder brother, and he had been truthful about their association from the outset.
Regarding Kabia’s location during the arrest, Caulker stated that Kabia was not in the room with him; instead, he was outside with other individuals, and they were not together at the time of his apprehension.
Addressing questions about his residence, the accused explained that the area lacked a specified address system, which is why he provided his family house address, situated very close to where he was arrested. He said the family house is where he typically spends his time after returning from the wharf.
Magistrate Mark Ngegba of the Pademba Road Magistrate Court remanded the accused at the Pademba Road Male Correctional Center in Freetown and the matter was adjourned for further hearing.