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Sierra Leone News: Freetownians sob over jogging ban

The Inspector General of Sierra Leone Police, Francis Munu banned street jogging causing some Freetownians to whimper.
Mohamed Suma, a taxi driver in Freetown said he is displeased with the police ban on street jogging. He argued that there had been no major incidents caused by street joggers.
Mohamed said if the police give permits to masquerades and allow them to drink on the streets, insult and at times even mug people, they are still permitted by the police. We joggers are banned from the streets.
He explained that before now areas in Freetown used to have soccer fields were you could go and play soccer or jog, but now it’s all gone… buildings everywhere, nowhere to exercise anymore.
“Jogging and playing football in large numbers has helped to transform many violent youths within his community,” Suma said.
Jonathan Macauley, on the other hand, acknowledged the police ban. He commended the ban on street jogging. Some groups might jog in good faith while others have hidden agendas. “Now that the elections are getting closer we need to be mindful of peace and security,” he said.
Executive Director at Centre for Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA), Ngolo Kata, interviewed on Radio Democracy, said, “Group jogging is a tradition in Sierra Leone just like masquerades. It is unacceptable that the IG banned the sport.”
Kata pointed out that the police need to encourage dialogue and conscientious living and should not be making decisions single handedly because Sierra Leone is not a “police state.”
Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Cornelius Deveaux explained that street jogging started during the 2007 electioneering process as a form of political rallies during the 2007 elections. Political rallies can take different shapes and forms; even jogging can become a political rally as long as it has political connotations. According to the PPRC Act it is not yet time to start political rallies because campaign has not yet started.
“The Public Order Act make it very clear that if you want to assemble people in large numbers you need to have police clearance.” This is for public safety and public order, he averred.
In modern democracies world over, street jogging is a sport enjoyed by millions around the world. “In Canada, an individual or group of joggers can trot through the streets without having to have a police permit,” says Canadian citizen Stephen Douglas.
However, in Sierra Leone, street jogging is a different ball game. Sunday run rallies have been blanketed under the term – Street Jogging’. The police see some of these groups engaged in ‘jogging’ as menace to society’s peace and tranquility as groups of joggers lob insults, obstruct traffic, pound on vehicles and mug people as they trot by.
Thus, the Inspector General of Sierra Leone Police, Francis Munu, has banned street jogging on the grounds that it encourages disruptive behaviour. “Police headquarters has observed with dismay that people are in the habit of jogging in large numbers along the streets with a hint of menace, raining insults, obstructing traffic, pounding on vehicles, playing loud music, and snatching property from other members of the public,” the release states.
By Ophaniel Gooding
Thursday August 03, 2017.

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