Sierra Leone imposes nationwide curfew after military barracks attacked
Sierra Leone has declared a nationwide curfew after gunmen attacked a military barracks in the capital, Freetown, according to a government statement, after months of post-election unrest in the West African nation.
Sierra Leone’s government on Sunday said they had repelled the attack at the military’s main Wilberforce barracks and were in control of the situation.
Information Minister Chernor Bah assured the public in a statement on Sunday that “the government and its state security forces are in control”.
Bah urged citizens to “stay indoors” as security forces “continued the process of apprehending the suspects.”
Witnesses told the AFP news agency they heard heavy gunfire and explosions in the capital early on Sunday morning, while a video shared on social media appeared to show plumes of smoke rising from the streets.
Other witnesses said they heard exchanges of fire near a barracks in Murray Town district, home to the navy, as well as outside another military site in Freetown, AFP reported.
● Government ‘in control’
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio confirmed the security breach in a statement on his official X social media account on Sunday, blaming a group of “renegades” for the attack.
Bio said calm had been “restored” and security forces were continuing to “root out the remnant of the fleeing renegades”.
He urged all citizens to unite to protect democracy in the West African country.
“The PEACE of our beloved NATION is PRICELESS and we shall continue to protect the peace and security of Sierra Leone against the forces that wish to truncate our much-cherished stability,” said the post.
In a statement issued on Sunday, West Africa’s regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), condemned the attempt to “disturb constitutional order” in Sierra Leone.
● Growing unrest
Sierra Leone has seen political violence and unrest since the re-election of President Bio in June.
That election was the fifth since the end of Sierra Leone’s brutal 11-year civil war – more than two decades ago – which left tens of thousands dead and destroyed the country’s economy.
International observers condemned a “lack of transparency” in the ballot count and Sierra Leone’s opposition party initially disputed the results and boycotted the government.
Since his electoral victory five months ago, Bio continues to face criticism because of debilitating economic conditions.
Nearly 60 per cent of Sierra Leone’s population of more than 7 million are impoverished, and youth unemployment is among the highest in West Africa.
The unrest in Sierra Leone comes after a series of military coups that have dealt blows to democracy in the region. There have been eight military coups in West and Central Africa since 2020, including in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Guinea.
[8:47 PM, 11/26/2023] CNL THOMAS Imonikhet: Dangote Cement promo: Man who scammed Nigerians arrested
The Lagos State Police Command has arrested one Benjamin Ezeukwe, 28, for masterminding and fleecing hundreds of innocent Nigerians in an elaborate cement price slash scam.
The spokesman of the Command, Benjamin Hundeyin, made this known in a statement on Sunday,
Hundeyin, a Superintendent of Police, said: “The suspect, Benjamin Ezeukwe, was arrested on October 19, 2023, in Rumuolumeni area of Obio/Akpor local government area of Rivers State following weeks of intensive investigation by officers of Area A Command of the State Command.
“Found in his possession were one Tecno phone, one iPhone, three SIM cards including that of 08039691980 which he used for the scam and a Toyota Avalon, which investigation revealed to be a proceed of his crime.
“The suspect had in September 2023 created a bogus but convincing online advert purportedly by Dangote Cement, claiming a massive price slash.
“Numerous unsuspecting customers fell prey to the scam, losing millions of Naira to the suspect.
“Investigation has so far revealed that the suspect had perpetrated several other similar scams.
“The suspect has since been arraigned.”