Following the recent arrest of opposition All People’s Congress (APC) Acting Publicity Secretary Sidi Yayah Tunis, barely hours after the African Union – Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) conferred the Chairmanship of this group on President Julius Maada Bio, in recognition of the “excellent progress made by Sierra Leone to promote democracy, rule of law and good governance,” the police virtually undermined his new position.
It is now clear that the police are hell bent on undermining President Bio. Although the criminal libel has been repealed, police are still going around the currently arresting journalists and opposition who write or talk critically of the Bio-led regime.
The Owl Newspaper reports that, one the same day, another journalist, Solomon Joe, Producer and Presenter of the popular program Mr. Owl on KISS 104 in Bo, was arrested by police for his critical broadcast.
In a post on social media, no less an individual that popular Freetown lawyer and human rights defender, Basita Michael did not mince her words when she stated that it is pointless that President Bio received such an outstanding recognition, only for it to be rubbished by his own police officers when they arrested an opposition spokesman who was merely exercising his democratic rights. Below is Basista Michael’s post verbatim:
The Minister of Foreign Affairs cannot tell the world that President Bio has been endorsed as the new Chairperson of the AU-African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), in recognition of the excellent progress’ made by Sierra Leone to promote democracy, rule of law and good governance and the next thing you know the Acting Publicity Secretary of the opposition Sidi Yayah Tunis is arrested and detained for upholding the democratic principle of dissent and his right to freedom of conscience and expression. Who will ever again believe what our government says when it constantly does the opposite of what is says? If as a government you are true to the principles of democracy, rule of law and good governance, when you hear voices of dissent, instead of arresting and detaining them, it is morally incumbent upon you as a government who is in a position of power to give these voices greater space, greater freedom and protect their rights to voice out their grievances. Until then, please let us refrain from telling the world we are making “excellent progress” to promote democracy, rule of law and good governance.