That approval was however cancelled in the evening hours of Friday 26th February 2016 when the police issued a press release accusing the organizers of not fulfilling conditions attached to the approval.
However, the organizers have insisted that the only condition attached to the approval was that the protesters should ‘strictly abide by the Public Order Act provisions, and that they were not in breach of that condition.
“We could not have possibly violated that condition ahead of the protest while we were still actively in preparation to ensure that our followers conduct themselves in an orderly fashion,” Executive Director of the Fontricia Children’s Foundation, Abdul Fonti argued.
While the police press release claimed that the protest was approved on grounds that the organizers meet with the Regional Police Commander Freetown-West to set ground rules for the protest, the organizers insist that no such condition was attached to the approval letter.
“The drafter of the police approval actually requested us to liaise with the said Regional Commander for proper security coordination, and that there was still Saturday and Sunday to do that even if it was a requirement for the protest,” one of the organizers pointed out, adding that: “the request was actually not mandatory but optional as we were not required or mandated to meet the commander, but requested”.
“That notwithstanding, we actually made efforts to meet the said Regional Police Commander and the LUC Central Division on Thursday and Friday immediately after receiving the letter but they could not be located at their offices,” Fonti said, adding that he even contacted a senior government officially to notify the Regional Commander that they were trying to meet him to no avail, ‘and the commander assured the government official on the phone that he would be available on Saturday at his office’.
“It therefore came as a surprise to me when my attention was drawn to the police press release cancelling my earlier approval on grounds that I failed to meet with the mentioned officers and that I was nowhere to be found in Sierra Leone even when the police I.G tried to initiate contact with me,” he said.
“Again, the approval letter signed on the 19th February 2016 was only delivered to my office seven days later on the 25th February, which left me with only three to four days to liaise with the two police commanders who could not be tracked in their offices on Thursday and Friday,” he noted.
Fonti however refused to comment on his take on the decision of the police as according to him; he would be at liberty to comment after meeting with the I.G to discuss the way forward.
He however called on his followers to stay calm and peaceful and further cautioned them to go by the press release of the police until further notice.
Sources close to WAEC claim that the police received a bogus complaint from the WAEC boss, Patrick Ndulu that his life was at risk if the protest goes on as planned and that the police acted on that to ban the peaceful event.
Meanwhile, other schools of thought are accusing the I.G of banning the protest on political grounds.