By: Abdulai Sillah
Claim: A viral audio circulating on WhatsApp accuses a religious leader in Makeni of calling for the destruction of President Julius Maada Bio and his team during an Eid-ul-Adha congregation.
Verdict: UNCERTAIN; pending police investigation
In recent days, a 10-minute and 56-second audio recording has been widely shared on various WhatsApp groups, alleging that a religious leader (Imam) in Makeni used an Eid-ul-Adha congregation as a platform to pray for the destruction of President Julius Maada Bio and his team.
A portion of the audio includes the following excerpt:
“We are calling on Almighty Allah to unleash destruction upon President Julius Maada Bio and his team executing evil against the citizens. For the first time in the history of the world, this president called himself president, elected himself as president for the second time, throwing the blood of human beings on earth, innocent people dying on earth just to keep him in power. Almighty Allah, we commit Maada Bio into your hands to destroy him and his team, killing people.”
In the audio, the congregation is encouraged to respond to the prayer, drawing a parallel with the story of Moses and Pharaoh. However, no audible response from the congregation can be heard in the background.
To investigate the veracity of the claim, SuperNewsRoom reached out to Sheik Mohamed Jalloh, the regional head of the United Council of Imams and Inter-Religious Council. Sheik Jalloh revealed that they were contacted by the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), who requested the presentation of a man named Sheikh Yusuf for questioning regarding the audio recording.
However, when they went to Sheikh Yusuf’s residence, his family informed them that he was not present and that there were rumors of army officials intending to arrest him. Fearing for his safety, Sheikh Yusuf went into hiding.
Sheik Jalloh expressed uncertainty about Sheikh Yusuf’s involvement, noting that he is not fluent in Krio and usually delivers sermons in Temne. There are rumors suggesting that the person who recorded the audio resides abroad and that it was a private recording made without a congregation present. The investigation is currently ongoing, and Sheikh Yusuf has not yet been located.
In addition, SuperNewsRoom contacted Assistant Inspector General of Police North-East, Edward Saa Samadia, who confirmed the allegations against Sheikh Yusuf. AIG Samadia shared that they have gathered information during their investigation and have requested the religious community to produce Sheikh Yusuf for questioning. However, as of now, he remains unaccounted for.
AIG Samadia refrained from providing further details, citing the ongoing investigation and assured the public that the outcome will be shared once the investigation concludes.
The individual accused of recording the audio, Sheikh Yusuf, is currently missing as he fears arrest by soldiers. This makes him unavailable for questioning to establish if he is indeed responsible for the audio and if the voice in the recording is his own.
Furthermore, the United Council of Imams, to which Sheikh Yusuf belongs, has been unable to confirm his involvement or verify the audio’s authenticity. As a result, the situation remains uncertain until the police investigation is completed, or further information becomes available.
NOTE: This fact-checked story is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.
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