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Children’s demonstration against traders leaves one dead, more wounded

Children’s demonstration against traders leaves one dead, more wounded

It was evident that on Monday 11th November, 2013, an outburst of conflict was reported erupted between school children of the Ansaru Muslim Secondary School on Guard Street, east of the capital city of Freetown, in Sierra Leone, on the west coast of Africa, that left one student dead and many wounded.

According to reports, the demonstration was caused by a discord between the children of the Ansaru Muslim Secondary school who complained to their authorities that the loud noise from the traders that trade at the gatepost of their school is causing lots of distraction and that they can hardly concentrate in their usual learning.

In a brief interview with the senior prefect of the school, Lamin K. Bangura, he disclosed that traders have been in the habit of trading at their school gate and making loud noise disturbing their learning process in school.

He said that though efforts were made by the authorities of the school to quit the traders from the school gate, the traders boasted that they will not leave the it and that they will cause more noise and trade at the school gate and that the children and school authorities should do whatever they wish after all.

The senior prefect further said that the traders have been casting blame on the government of Sierra Leone for not relocating them to a better trading center and that through trade, they said, they can be able to meet with their financial needs. He added that the students and authorities of the school should help raise their voice for the attention of the government who had promised them better trading centers in the city.

Bangura further disclosed that the argument started among the traders and the children of the Ansaru Muslim Secondary School on Wednesday 6th November, 2013 after he mistakenly hit on one of the traders foodstuff trays to the ground. He added that the trader asked that he must pay for the items and that his school friends make financial contributions to ensure that the cost of the items were refunded.

He stated that a meeting was convened in the school that was attended by school authorities to help address the issue of the presence of the traders at the school gate and the problem that others might mistakenly hit trading items at the school gate. He added  the school authorities assured the children that the issue will be put in control in the shortest possible time.

On Friday 8th November, 2013, it was further reported that the children had taken further action and destroyed three trading centers at the school gate.

According to Lamin Bangura, the action was to demonstrate to the traders that a continuity of trading at their school gate has frustrated members of the school and that the traders must leave.

He said that on Monday 11th November this year, the traders were seen again at the same point and that a serious argument broke out that caused a tussle by the intervention of children of the school to defend their school mates, and youths of the community to defend their fellow traders.

He further disclosed that members of the Sierra Leone Police Force (SLP) were immediately informed by the public to help calm the situation but that the manner of approach of the SLP into the issue badly erupted more anger as they fired tear gas and live bullets that caused the death of Alhaji Sesay, a student of Ansaru Muslim Secondary School Level II by stabbing, and the wounding of others.

He disclosed that several arrests were made and that according to police personnel, the teachers and students that were arrested are to help with further information on the issue.

According to the people’s direct representative of that community, Councilor Abu Yasif Kanu of Ward 374, the conflict was a surprise to him and  he was not pre-informed about any rising conflict by any of the parties involved.

He further said that he was later informed through a cell phone call from his wife that a serious rampage had erupted in the community and that he rushed to the scene from the Freetown City Council but the tension did not allow him to see through.

He said that he is calling on the attention of members of the SLP, children, authorities of the Ansaru Muslim Secondary School, traders at  Guard Street, and the Sierra Leone government to come together and help address this issue for a no repeat of the recent kind of rampage.

During a public statement by SLP PRO, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Samura, he assured the public that the situation is under control and that the public will be further informed on the outcome of the investigation.

By Raymond Bai-Kamara (Gbanka Poto Jr.)

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