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Sierra Leone opposition strongman in police custody

Sierra Leone opposition strongman in police custody
Lahai Lawrence Leema allegedly used abusive language, threatened staff, damaged property of Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corp

By Alpha Kamara

DAKAR, Senegal

The National Publicity Secretary of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) was jailed Monday by the Criminal Investigation Department for alleged disorderly behavior against the staff of the country’s national broadcaster.

Lahai Lawrence Leema, a former military officer, is being accused of using abusive language, threating staff of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) and damage to property after forcing himself on air to be interviewed.

Hundreds of party youths accompanied him to police headquarters in solidarity.

Sierra Leone police spokesperson Ibrahim Samura said they are investigating a matter of security and threats.

“We received a complaint from staff of the national broadcaster, the SLBC, that the opposition spokesman forced himself into the broadcast studio, assaulted staff and used threatening language against female staff which disturbed normal broadcast operations. We are investigating for the law to take its course. We are treating the matter as a criminal offence,” he said.

Moiwo Hindolo Ngevao, the lawyer representing the accused, described the matter as political intimidation against the opposition.

“Under normal circumstances, a highly placed citizen like my client should be released on bail through a surety. But when it comes to issues between the opposition and the ruling government, the police are always taking sides. My client has been denied bail and has been put behind bars to intimate our supporters,” he told Anadolu Agency.

The conflict emanated from a ruling party member who made wild allegations in the state broadcaster’s studio against the opposition. That prompted the reaction of the opposition spokesman which resulted in the scuffle.

Sierra Leone goes to the pools in March 2018 to elect its next president and the stakes are high, forcing the police to arrest over a dozen youths for political violence.

The opposition has continuously accused both the SLBC and the Sierra Leone police of taking sides in favor of the ruling APC government, a charge the two institutions deny.

source: News Feed
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