By Abass Conteh

The police under strict instructions from the powers that be on Monday 15th August 2022 intensified their search for all those suspected to be part of the August 10 demonstration in Sierra Leone to face the brute of the law by declaring them wanted with a ransom price leading to their arrest. Houses of suspected individuals are presently under siege as armed men from both the military and the police constantly barge in and drag young men and women outside their houses, beating them mercilessly in the presence of their kids and then bundling them into standby trucks to the stations.

It is appalling to note that those who put up resistance were shot inside the police vehicle and their remains deposited at the mortuary awaiting secret burial at night in an unknown site, whiles the lucky ones are whisked to the famous ‘Benghazi Room’ at the Operational Service Division –OSD of the Sierra Leone Police at Kinghaman Road and severely tortured before arraignment in court.

Among the recently declared wanted as said at the Police Press briefing is one Alpha Conteh of Kuntorloh –Jalloh Terrace, whose house was raided by armed men on Wednesday of 10th August 2022. Alpha as stated by close neighbours would be counting his stars where ever he is after escaping such brutality by a team of joint armed personnel who raided his house at 10 pm that same day during the curfew hours.

Speaking to the wife Agnes Duba Conteh (not her real name for security purposes) said in tears that though she is unaware of her husband’s wayabout satisfied that he (Alpha) was not ruthlessly beaten or killed in their presence like what they did to one of her neighbours on the 11th August. She explained that the deceased who was seen and identified wearing the PPP polo was beaten by masked armed men inside his house, with his wife and kids watching, he was later thrown into the police pickup van at this time nothing has been heard about him.

According to the Police, the warrant is attached with a ransom of fifty million Leones for any information leading to Alpha’s arrest for incitement, unlawful conduct and riot.

Community sources intimated to this reporter that the alleged suspect may have either been killed during the demonstration as there were tear gas and sporadic live-bullet shots by police on that day of Wednesday 10th August or hibernating somewhere, as he was last seen along Congo Water.  

Explaining her own ordeal, the wife said on Wednesday 10th August her husband with his colleagues (almost four in number) came to the house at around 8 am wearing a black polo with different inscriptions and at the top back inscribed ‘PPP’. They bought a local food called ‘culture’ and ate and then left for the peaceful demonstration. ‘I prayed for my husband and friends for safe returning back.’

However, a few hours later, I started hearing gunshots which became sporadic and people ran helter-skelter, a lady got gripped by a bullet and fell down in front of our house we dispersed. I then called, Alpha on his mobile phone to know where he is and inquired about his safety, I further pleaded with him to return immediately. He (Alpha) replied that he is in Congo water safe with the others and promised to return home. Just about half an hour, he came and we tore the PPP polo and set it ablaze. The tension increases and a curfew was declared by the government from 3 pm to 6 am as broadcast on the national radio by the Vice President.

On that day we ate gari and palm oil, the only food left in the house to survive and lay down fearing being hit by strange bullets. At around 10 pm on that same day, I heard voices outside and a heavy knock on our door saying ‘open this door and bring that terrorist, that rebel out or you all are dead’. I heard gunshots outside but we decided not to open the door and remain silent, after almost an hour the situation subsided and I heard them saying that they are coming again. We were able to see outside because our house was dark but the light was outside.

Early the next day, my husband (Alpha) left the house for fear for his life, and since then I cannot tell whether he is alive or dead as rumours of dead bodies caught the air wave in the community. I cried for days for my husband because people were also saying that on Thursday and Friday nights an unregistered ambulance was seen picking up the corpses of those killed and taken to an unknown site for burial, she lamented.

Two days later, she said, a group of police officers came to my house asking for my husband with a warrant of arrest noting that he has been declared wanted by police with regards to the August 10 riot. They vehemently searched everywhere in the house and took us to the station at Kissy Mess Mess Police Station for two days later released with conditions to report every morning.

An anonymous eyewitness accounted that he managed to jump to an unfinished house adjacent to the scene of the crime to save his life, adding that on that very day of the August 10 demonstration, after the curfew was declared, masked men inside an unlicensed vehicle were raiding houses of anyone suspected to be part of the demonstration. These men (unmasked men) would beat people mercilessly without any fear of being arrested and whisked to the police station as suspects, hence young men were forced to desert their houses for safety. He explained that he saw armed men violently alit from a vehicle shouting where is the PPP bastard, and a young man who was with them pointed to the house opposite his hiding place hiding and he heard them shouting y rushed in firing a few shots in the air, ‘I cannot tell for how many minutes it lasted but I heard one of the officers threatening to kill anyone that is against the government.

Few days after the police published a notice of Alpha Conteh declaring him wanted for the August 10 demonstration with a ransom price of 30 million Leones for any information leading to his arrest.

By Bah

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