Sierra Leone’s opposition party, All People’s Congress (APC) has accused the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) of plotting to kill its members including a former Minister of Internal Affairs, Major Paolo Conteh.
The APC said this while reacting to a riot that broke out on Wednesday at the Freetown maximum prison where five prisoners and two prison guards were killed and dozens were injured.
Reports has it that inmates at Freetown Male Correctional Center set some buildings alight, including the administrative block, a store housing food items for inmates, hospital, carpentry unit, and a kitchen in a riot which cause was not clear as at press time. However, sources said the riot came after an inmate tested positive for the coronavirus disease.
In statement on Thursday, Sierra Leone’s Information Minister, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, said that it was too early to comment on the causes of the unrest. However, he said that preliminary investigations indicate that this was an “attempted prison break”.
“A full assessment of damage and injuries is ongoing and government will provide the public with full details. A comprehensive investigation has been launched into the incident. Findings will also be made public as soon as possible,” he added.
However, in its reaction to the incident, the APC condemned the deliberate shooting of inmates by security operatives attached to the correctional centre.
In the statement signed by Ambassador Alhaji Dr. OSMAN Foday Yansaneh, APC National Secretary General, the party also said that the raiding of Paolo Conteh’s house and alleged abduction of his wife continues to generate grave concern.
“Without prejudice to any of the conflicting reports so far received from Government and media outlets, the APC notes with grave concern that some of the initial video footages that have made their way into the public domain show videos of known SLPP thugs like Tanibola that our sources tell us was never an inmate in that Correctional Centre.
“That he now found himself inside the Correctional Centre can only lend credence to the aspersions making the rounds on social and other media that this alleged prison riot was another dastardly ploy by the SLPP and its operatives to kill innocent civilians and inmates including Senior members of our party, in the persons of Major Retired Palo CONTEH, Herbert George Williams, ABU Bakar DARAMY and AMADU Koita who at the time of the incident were in the custody of the security forces.
“The APC is further appalled by the fact that armed security forces raided the home of Palo CONTEH, harrassed the occupants of the house and took into custody the innocent wife of our dear Comrade Palo CONTEH. The whereabouts of our Comrades have since remained unknown and all attempts by the leadership of our Party and the legal team to reach them have proved futile.”, the statement reads.
Palo Conteh has been charged with treason, and is in custody after allegations that he went to State House for a meeting with the president carrying a gun.
While demanding for information on the whereabouts of the arrested party members, the APC said it will continue to consult the Internation community on the next step of action to take on the continued harassment and intimidation of its members.