President Bio Must Free Forster, the Innocent Youth Shot by Minister’s Security in Freetown

By Abu Shaw in London (24/03/2021)

Today’s special edition is rightly dedicated to the plight of an innocent youngster who is presently being incarcerated in prison in Freetown. He is called Alie Sarjah Forster, the young man who was shot in the leg by one of the irate security personnel guarding the violent-oriented Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Lahai Lawrence Leema over one year ago. newspaper is therefore joining other well-meaning Sierra Leoneans in and outside the country to call on the SLPP government of President Julius Maada Bio to immediately release poor Forster, now. Not tomorrow but today. (Photo: Wounded Forster lying near the gate shortly after being shot).

Eyewitnesses say the young man Forster did nothing wrong before he was shot, then arrested, then detained over one year ago at the maximum Pademba Road Prison in Freetown. Forster’s only crime was finding himself in front of the house of the Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Leema’s main gate where he was shot in the leg in broad daylight by an armed security officer. The sad incident happened on February 2, 2020, in Freetown.

Those present at the scene on that fateful day have intimated that the brutal Minister Leema issued orders ordering the wounded Forster to be taken to prison rather than the hospital where the poor youngster was supposed to get proper medical attention. Reports say it was at the ill-equipped and dilapidated Pademba Prison Hospital where Forster’s leg was maltreated, a situation that has only made his condition deteriorate to the point of nearing amputation. 

“Only the grace of God has prevented Forster’s leg from being amputated so far. Despite being seriously sick, Forster is just lucky to be alive at the moment,” a prison source intimates. Yet, the arrogant Minister Leema is still cowardly using his SLPP government powers to punish the poor boy whose parents are so poverty-stricken that they cannot even afford a lawyer to defend their only child.

A few weeks ago, a Good Samaritan lawyer decided to help poor Forster. But Minister Leema’s overwhelming influence on the judicial system is so much that Forster’s case is in a snail-paced motion. The remote-control Judges hearing the matter have not only refused to grant Forster bail, but the case has also rarely been called in court for reasons only known to the ‘Almighty Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Leema’. (Photo: The violent Minister Leema).

Every sane Sierra Leonean is baffled as to why this poor young man is being maltreated unjustifiably for so long thanks to Lawrence Leema and the SLPP government. Reports say Forster has absolutely done nothing wrong even though the Leema camp has alleged that Forster was shot in self-defence as he (Forster) wanted to harm them. Eyewitnesses say it is untrue. “Forster and his other friend never entered Leema’s compound. He and his friend were merely arguing between themselves outside Leema’s compound away from his gate when the dodgy security officer suddenly opened fire. That was what happened,” those present at the scene reiterated.

It is beyond comprehension why some Sierra Leoneans especially those supporting the ruling SLPP government cannot see beyond their noses the blatant injustice being meted out to poor Forster. Frankly, only the sane believe Forster’s case is a classical example of human rights violations perpetrated by a powerful government minister aided and abetted by certain corrupt individuals in the judicial system!

For those in authority to unleash punishment on innocent citizens like Forster is simply unacceptable in a democratic setting as it has the hallmarks of barbarism and dictatorship. What makes Forster’s situation even more unpalatable is the fact that opposition politicians, civil society organisations, some local media houses, religious leaders are visibly silent on the human rights abuses against poor Forster and others who have similarly suffered under President Bio’s violent government since April 2018.

Amid these human rights violations of innocent citizens, amid the arbitrary arrests and detention of poor Forster, amid the unceasing pains inflicted on Forster’s parents, amid the recalcitrant and barbaric attitude of Minister Leema, amid the injustices meted out to other Sierra Leoneans by the SLPP government, in the final analysis, the buck stops with President Bio to stop the suffering of poor Forster and his parents by ordering his release NOW. (Photo: President Bio needs to show some balls and free poor Forsters).

The malnourished and emaciated Forster, who is presently nursing his wounded left leg, is not the only Sierra Leonean who continues to be incarcerated by the dictatorship of President Bio and his SLPP government. Honourable Karankay, a politician of the main opposition APC party is currently languishing in prison. Another politician of the Alliance Democratic Party ADP the outspoken Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray is perishing in prison for over one year now in a politically motivated rape case brought against him by the SLPP government in order to silence him.

Many other opposition politicians and media critics have faced the same faith including Mr Alfred Palo Conteh, a former Defence and Internal Affairs Minister under the last APC government of President Ernest Koroma. Palo was arrested and charged with treason last year for his licence pistol which the SLPP government accused him of smuggling into State House to murder President Bio. The fact is, Palo declared his pistol at the entrance of the main gate before he entered the building. Luckily for him, the court threw the ridiculous treason case out of court.

Many others like the social media activist and APC party member Mr Amadu Makalo Koita were arbitrarily arrested and detained for months on end. Comrade Koita was in solitary confinement for over seven months at Pademba Road Prison. Human rights violations are the order of the day under the SLPP government. Dozens of prisoners were massacred at Pademba Prison on April 29, 2020, by presidential guards. And on July 17 – 18, 2020 peaceful protesters were gunned down by police and military officers in Makeni. Other citizens were killed and injured in Lunsar, Thonko Limba and Tombo. No justice has been done for these victims so far.     

Forster’s case has drawn the attention of many citizens and organisations including the Concerned Sierra Leoneans UK who are calling on President Bio and his SLPP government to release poor Forster NOW. Other political prisoners like the ADP leader and presidential candidate for the 2018 general elections Mr Kamarainba Mansaray and honourable Karankay must also be freed NOW. Sierra Leone is a democracy, not a totalitarian police state as it is today. Investigations continue.

Courtesy of The Organizer 24 March 2021