By Abu Shaw in London (14/04/2021)
Police brutality, under the ruling SLPP government, reared its ugly head again against angry university students who protested in Freetown on Monday.
Sierra Leone citizens have today lost all the semblance of human rights and free expression. The Sierra Leone capital was like a war zone Monday morning when aggrieved IPAM students of the University of Sierra Leone were mobbed by well-armed police personnel leaving many badly wounded with beating marks on their bodies. A female student was particularly manhandled by police officers who pinned her down on the ground and had her clothes ripped off in broad daylight. She was subsequently whisked off in a police vehicle. (Photo: IPAM female student’s wounded body).
Eyewitnesses say the students were venting their anger against the IPAM administration in a peaceful protest that later metamorphosed into chaos when students started throwing stones and smashing properties at the university campus. The heavy-handedness of the police officers that stormed the scene did not help to calm the situation. And without warning, the SLPP police were seen pouncing on the students and then started shooting tear gas into the crowd of students who took to their heels.
Sources say nearly 500 IPAM students who are expecting to graduate this year were let down by the corrupt University administration. Reports say a list of 100 students was presented for graduation, a situation that infuriated the students, resulting in the protests on Monday among other reasons. Instead of providing real answers to the students, the SLPP police were called in to carry out the brutalisation tactics against the students.
And as the crowds grow, the officers became more incensed with brutality thus forcing many protesting students to flee helter-skelter. Monday’s brutal attacks on peaceful protesters are not surprising at all under President Julius Maada Bio’s violent SLPP government. Protesters are never allowed nowadays to exercise their fundamental rights and Sierra Leoneans found doing so for whatever reason would be met with brutes from the state security.
It is the new normal in Sierra Leone for SLPP police to pounce on peaceful protesters since 2018 when the SLPP government assumed power. Last year in Makeni, peaceful protesters, mostly youths, were murdered by state security for merely aggitating against the removal of a standby generator from Makeni to the Lungi International Airport in Freetown. All the Makeni youths who were arrested are still in detention without trial.
As we go to the press, Women’s Rights organisations including 50/50 Group, etc, are calling on the SLPP government to respect the rights of female students. They particularly noted their disgust over the brutality meted out to the female student who was beaten and wounded and eventually stripped naked. The lady student was still in detention last night. “Let Say No to Police Brutality,” the Women’s Right said. More allegations against the IPAM Administration that propelled the protests on Monday, April 12, 2021, as follows – (Photo: Police Chief Ambrose Sovulla, left, needs to halt his irate police officers).
A Call to Order – Thousands of Students at Risk of Not Graduating
By Joz Baba
Another day of student protests in Sierra Leone as thousands of students at risk of not graduating. University managements are outrageously full of corruption and unaccountability. Lecturers are allegedly collecting monies just to grade papers. New normal! Class representatives collect monies to get grades. Lecturers continue to fail students just because they do not like them or for refusing to sleep or date with female students, etc.
A government that talks about improving education, building capacity, developing skills… Yet, Lecturers and Professors take pride in failing students; having half or more of their classes failing. Lecturers boast about only using their jobs as side-kicks. Lecturers missing half of their semester classes and expecting students to know what they haven’t been taught. Lecturers often show up 2 hours late in a 3-hour class and still expect students to be present.
No one is crying foul. Most of the students’ grievances were not met and yet, police brutality was the only thing the government can offer. Soon you will see them campaigning to end police brutality in some country other than ours! Where are the voices of the future? Where are the civil society groups that are supposed to be fighting for our “rights”? Where are the so-called education activists fighting for a better tomorrow?
Sierra Leone is on the edge with no one seeming to care, or the voices of those that care are drowned by the voices of the party supporters. A country where college graduates struggle to construct proper sentences or even know how to turn on a computer talk! What are we doing? Where are we going? What do we want? Do we even know? Do we even care? Do we even have an ounce of an idea?
Sixty years of independence, what do we have to show for it? We celebrate minerals and mining, yet, after 60 years we still only export dirt and no value-added finished products? 60 years and we import over 90% of the cheapest and most valuable sources of animal protein consumed like eggs. 60 years of what? And we say “Happy Independence Day!” Are we really happy? Do we really have something to be happy about? Sierra Leone at 60! What are we doing? Talk about #MisplacedPriorities.
A Student Supporting the IPAM Management – Rioting by Students at IPAM, My Independent Position
I read an article written by The Voice of The Disadvantage, blaming Lecturers and the Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences at IPAM Dr Ezekiel Duramany-Lakkoh for failing to publish the results of Final Year Students at IPAM. The article also blamed Lecturers for recklessness in handling administrative issues of the University. These claims show that the writer has very little knowledge of the activities of the college and how the University conducts its activities. (Photo: President Bio and his SLPP government tolerate violence and brutality).
As a Senior Student myself, I have taken my time to discuss with Lecturers, Students, and Administrative Staff. Dr Ezekiel Duramany-Lakkoh has been in IPAM since he was a student and has demonstrated competence, integrity, and honesty in all his academic and professional routines. One thing I will not deny for him is that he is disciplined hard with the truth and an extremely hardworking young gentleman who always want to see things done correctly. On the publication of results for final year students, the general public should be aware that the Faculty does not publish results of final year students. Results are sent by the Heads of Departments to the Examinations Units after a Faculty Board Meeting. The only responsibility of the Dean in the publication of final year results is to chair the Faculty Board Meetings.
The publisher of a malicious article by the author of The Voice of The Disadvantage should note that the Individual Grades of All Final Year Students have been released more than three months ago, other than outstanding Dissertation Grades. These grades were released against the regulation that grades are only to be released to students who have met their financial obligations and register for the academic year. Students in all Departments in the Faculty are aware of their references and know that their results will not be published with references.
This law is not made or implemented by Duramany-Lakkoh or any Lecturer at IPAM rather it is a law of the University of Sierra Leone. Don’t judge Lakkoh because he is self-discipline, ready, willing, and available to push everything good about the IPAM’s agenda. Lakkoh is just one person that cannot be corrupted and his dedication to IPAM is admirable. I and many other students will forever admire this guy.
According to an inside source, this was exactly what happened at IPAM. The individual grades of all subjects, with the exception of DISSERTATIONS of all FINAL YEAR STUDENTS, were released to students by the Departments for more than THREE MONTHS AGO. Every final year student has known his or her academic status more than THREE MONTHS AGO. Final Year Students of IPAM have verified their academic status with their respective departments more than THREE MONTHS AGO.
The writer of The Voice of The Disadvantage should also note that the computer system used by the Examinations Units of IPAM cannot publish results of a student with Reference Grades, except students in the Honours Class. The Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences and Heads of Departments has nothing to do with this process, and cannot change the grades of students.
When results are sent to the examinations unit by Heads of Departments, they can be withheld for three important reasons that the Faculty has nothing to do with. Students who are not fully paid and registered for at least two weeks to the publication of results cannot see their names for graduation. Students with outstanding Dissertation Grades will have their results withheld. The results of Students who have result verification issues were withheld from publication by the Registry and not the Faculty.
I can still remember Lakkoh saying these same issues on Radio last year and even went to our Masters class to sensitize us and ask that we take our reference grades seriously. The piece was done because people are always looking for opportunities to blackmail others and I cannot stand by to see that happen. The confusion today at IPAM and FBC was about acquiring graduation Gowns and not more about publications of results, as most students were already aware of their status, except for a few. Students should learn to read notices and follow instructions and stop blaming Lectures for their problems. #Just Stop the Blackmail.
Courtesy of The Organizer 14 April 2021