Sierra Leone: Journalists under attack

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The BBC stringer in Freetown  Umaru  Fofanah is being threatened according latest reports. himself confirmed this in a  latest post: “My attention has been drawn to a vitriolic diatribe and a clear and open threat made against me by someone who’s apparently a member or supporter of the opposition APC party.”

he stated: “In the audio circulated on social media, the anonymous coward threatens that whenever I visit Makeni I will be killed. Reason: Because I interviewed the former Vice President, Victor Foh which was aired on the BBC yesterday.”

“Makeni incidentally is the place I visit more than anywhere else in Sierra Leone because my parents and siblings live there. I am therefore taking the threat very seriously and have reported the matter to the police Criminal Investigations Department in Freetown. I have also brought it to the notice of the head of the police in and around Makeni.”

“This latest threat comes after I was verbally and physically attacked on 31 December 2018 by members/supporters of the same political party at their headquarters in Freetown where I had gone to cover a story when police attacked the building with teargas. One of those attacks on me on that day happened right in the presence of the Secretary General of the party’s Young Generation, Abdul Conteh. A lady whom I don’t know, rained abuses on my parents before throwing an empty can at me. Mr. Conteh intervened and apologized to me. I duly brought the matter to the attention of the party’s National Secretary General, Osman Yansanneh moments after it had happened.”

“I assume these attacks and threats are coming from thugs who are acting alone. I therefore urge the APC leadership to condemn this banditry and distance the party from it while I seek redress.”

In another development, The African Young Voices media empire reported a case of assault against one of their reporters in Makeni who went to cover a story of the visit of the Criminal  Investigations Department personnel who went to interrogate the former President Ernest Bai Koroma.

The latest action by politicians add up to the already harsh conditions under which journalists in Sierra Leone are working. In a media statement, the AYV media empire rebutted statement from the All Peoples Congress which impugned on their credibility. The full statement reads:

“It has come to our attention that our journalists attached to the AYV Media Empire Makeni Bureau have been subjected to a violent attack by supporters of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party.

The team of five AYV journalists was on assignment to cover the police visit to the residence of former president and chairman of the opposition party on Wednesday January 16 2019.

According to our northern bureau chief, Amadu Kamara, two of our female reporters, Augusta Turay and Theresa W. Sesay, including Abass Sesay were severely manhandled while doing their professional duty.

Our two camera operators were also roughed.

Both of our cameras was also confiscated by the unruly supporters in the presence of their leaders.

It was only the intervention of former ambassador to Iran Alimamy Kamara and Member of Parliament Hon. Mohamed Bangura that later saved our team from the deadly mob.

Our northern bureau chief also reported that a senior APC official actually incited the supporters to attack our team.

The Management of the AYV Media Empire roundly condemn this act of thuggery against our team, especially taking into consideration that this is not the first time such is happening.

Our reporters are merely doing their professional work and cannot be subjected to persistent threats and physical harassment.

In this regard, we shall embark on all available legal steps to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.

We also want to call the attention of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists to this unfortunate act of violence.

We remain credible, factual and balanced.”

©ayv.communications.directorate

 

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Abu Bakarr Tarawally is a Journalist based in Freetown. He works for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer. He has once served as Editor for a few newspapers in Freetown, including Sierra Express Media, The Exclusive Newspaper and his own newspaper, the Daily Express Publications. He is a teacher trainer, and loves writing and reading a lot. Email: abstarawally@gmail.com. Call +232 88601277 or +2327661303.

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