By Alpha Kamara
Police in Sierra Leone confirmed Tuesday they have detained a former lands minister for alleged forgery and illegal land acquisition.
Musa Tarawally, who served as minister of lands, country planning and the environment, was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department in Freetown.
Police Superintendent Samuel Kargbo told Freetown-based African Young Voices Radio “the matter centers on a land transaction dating back to when he was minister between January 2013 to December 2015. It has been under investigation for a while now.”
“This has nothing to do with politics”, Kargbo maintained.
Many of the shanty structures up in the mountains of Freetown that were destroyed during a mudslide on Aug. 14 this year had been built during Tarawally’s tenure as lands minister. More than 500 people were killed in the disaster.
He was relieved of his post two years ago when President Ernest Bai Koroma promised a full investigation into his alleged illegal activities.
Tarawally was also accused in the past of spearheading political violence in favor of the ruling APC party but was never arrested.
He was recently endorsed as a presidential candidate of the Citizens Democratic Coalition (CDC), a new opposition party to contest the March 7, 2018 general elections.
His supporters believe the case is politically motivated.
Ansumana Ngegba, a supporter of the CDC in Tarawally’s home district of Moyamba, said the arrest is a way to suppress their candidate.
“It’s the tactics of the ruling party. They have done it to other opposition leaders. We know it’s just a way to suppress his political ambitions for the next election. But we will continue to stand by him,” Ngegba told Anadolu Agency.
Sierra Leone goes to the polls in March 2018 when Koroma, who is concluding his final term, is expected to hand over power to a successor.