The suspects werebeing investigated by the police for violating the ban on trading on Sundays and for public order offences. Also in attendance were two police officers and a cross section of Deaf and Dumb persons including the President of the Deaf and Dumb Traders Lahai Vangahun.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said that the concession is necessary to help the disabled cope with taking care of themselves so they will not have to resort to begging for a living. ‘These people are vulnerable, we should create the environment for a source of livelihood,’ she said.
She assured that the Board will provide legal assistance to the Deaf and Dumb because they are vulnerable. ‘You are entitled to legal assistance from the Board without any precondition, meaning you will not be subjected to the ‘Means Test’ to qualify for the scheme,’ she said. ‘At the same time, you should be law abiding. We will withdraw your entitlement if you continue to attack police officers and engage in other forms of lawlessness.’
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles advised the Deaf and Dumb not to trade in prohibited areas to avoid coming into conflict with the law. She also urged that they work closely with the Petty Traders Association.
It was agreed that the Deaf and Dumb should meet with the Board on Wednesday, 26 April 2017. ‘The meeting is meant to sensitize them on the mandate of the Board and issues of Rule of Law and human rights,’ Ibrahim Kamara the National Outreach Officer said. The President of the Deaf and Dumb Traders disclosed that they have 285 members in Freetown.
Meanwhile, the Board secured the release of the three suspects – Ibrahim Kamara, Mohamed Kargbo and Mohamed Saidu Jalloh on Friday, April 21 after spending five nights in detention. They were arrested on Sunday, 16 April 2017 at PZ/Abacha Street in the Central Business District by police officers from the Victoria Park Police Post.
The officers were enforcing the ban on trading on Sundays. The ensuing confrontation resulted in the alleged assault on Assistant Superintendent of the Police Victoria Sesay. The Deaf and Dumb on their part said the encounter got out of hands when one of the police officers used a teaser on them.
The Board started providing legal assistance to the suspects on Tuesday, April 18. Two staff of the Board, Ibrahim Kamara and Bankole Morgan were assigned to the matter. The matter was brought to the attention of the Board by a deaf and dumb. After several follow-ups on the matter and negotiations, the Board succeeded in appealing to the police not to press ahead with charges.