“Foday Sankoh was a rebel leader. He was jailed for years, but his dreadlocks were never shaved” LAJ’s Dad
By Alpha Kamara TVS
Father of jailed Sierra Leone rapper has called for the immediate release of his son. Pa Bah was speaking to AYV TV on Sunday June 19, regarding the manner in which his son has been kept in a police detention for a week without having access to his family and his legal team.
“I want my son LAJ released immediately with his dreadlocks intact. During his naming ceremony, I killed two cows and shaved his head as demanded by customs and traditions. No one else has the right to shave him. If I cant have access to my son today Sunday June 19 or anytime soon, whatever happens will not be our responsibility” Pa Bah said.
The angry father also said Foday Sankoh a rebel leader who killed thousands of Sierra Leoneans was jailed for years until he died in detention. No one ever shaved him. Why should they do it to my son who is just an accused for a minor crime set up by the police? He asked.
Hip Hop star Amadu Bah also called LAJ was arrested on Sunday June 12 for alleged robbery with violence, according to a police press release. The release also said as per their standard operation procedures of the jail where the rapper is kept, all detainees in there under investigation are shaved. Other friends arrested with the musician have also been shaved. LAJ’s say the charged is just another police gimmick to silence the local rap star. Several people have also condemned the police for shaving individuals who are still under investigation.
LAJ’s attorney in a counter press release said since his client was arrested on June 12, he has not been allowed to have access to his family, friends and even him the attorney (who is suppose to represent him). He cited constitutional provisions that says anyone arrested for a minor offence like alleged robbery to be either released on bail or charged to court within 72 hours. “My client says he has also been subjected to torture and inhuman treatment in the police cell. This is unacceptable by all standards,” he said.
Opposition leader in parliament Hon. Chernor Marju Bah in a tweet also condemns the police action, stating, their standard operating procedure should conform with the dictates of the constitution. He also cited that, the police don’t have any constitutional mandate to shave a suspects head who is under investigation and therefore urged for the rights of the rapper and government critic to be respected.
The Sierra Leone Bar Association has also issued a statement condemning the Sierra Leone police for the action and thereby urging them to respect rights of accused persons inline with the constitution which says “everyone accused is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law”
LAJ, one of Sierra Leone’s Hip Hop stars has several times been in conflict with the law for minor issues. He has also been criticizing the excesses of the government and the police and has also been speaking against the country’s hardship through his songs.
Meanwhile, some of the rapper’s friends and fans protested in front of the Sierra Leone embassy in Washington DC calling for an end to police brutality and for the release of the rapper. Some local musicians have also joined the call to ask for the release of LAJ because its eight days now since his release and no one has seen him. He has not even been charged to court, a situation that has angered his friends, fans and family members.
The rapper will appear in court on Monday June 20, for the first time since his arrest eight days ago.