There are many living legends in Sierra Leone today and whilst it is usual to pay homage to the dead, sometimes, it is good to laud our living heroes whilst they are still alive. In Sierra Leone today, there is a veteran international journalist working for Reuters International News who is named Christo Johnson. He is also a Commissioner of the Independent Media Commission. This is a man who keeps a low profile and rarely speaks in public gatherings but who commands a huge amount of respect in this country; respect which cuts across all shades of opinion in this country.
In a recent court case where two journalists from the Independent Observer newspaper fell afoul of the Courts in their coverage of court proceedings, as soon as Hon. Justice Ademusu pronounced he was issuing a Bench Warrant for the two journalists Mr. Jonathan Leigh and Mr. Bai Bai Sesay, they were alerted to take cover by SMS text to their mobile phones from journalists in the courtroom. So it was the journalists had already dived for cover when the Police arrived a few minutes later at their offices to pick them up that Friday.
That whole weekend, the journalists were under cover in hiding from the determined police officers who wanted them picked up and locked up in cells until they could be brought in front of the Learned Honourable Justice Ademusu on Monday morning to face Contempt charges. During the period of their hiding, Jonathan Leigh had sought opinions on how their serious legal problem could be settled seeing that the learned Judge, Hon. Ademusu seemed quite determined to set an example with them. Jonathan considered many options including the intervention of SLAJ. My own advise was simple and straightforward. I advised him to seek assistance from Christo Johnson.
Jonathan listened and sought out Commissioner Christo Johnson who proceeded to work hard behind the scenes so much so that by the time the matter was being heard in Court, inflamed hearts had cooled down and it was easy for Lawyer Yada Williams to make his successful plea for mitigation on behalf of the two journalists.
|Veteran Journalist Christo Johnson
There are other Commissioners of the IMC including the Chairperson who are also respected in their own right but in my opinion, there is no other IMC Commissioner who can assuage hot tempers in any sector of our society than Commissioner Christo Johnson.
This is why when both outgone Zenith Bank MD Madam Oby Irek Unekwe and female journalist Mrs. Kadijatu Savage repeated to me their warm appreciation for the adept, skilful and matured manner in which Commissioner Christo Johnson handled last Tuesday’s IMC intervention, I was not at all surprised. Vintage Christo Johnson!
Now, moving on..., albeit there was a three days delay since the first anti-Mende publication - before the IMC summons issued after a reactive anti-Limba/Loko publication, I must highly commend Commissioner Christo Johnson for summoning a meeting last Friday of two errant editors to publicly warn them against inciting tribal sentiments in this country. Kudos! This is vintage Christo Johnson, a man I have observed for well over ten years now to be a low-profile man but a man with the ability to command respect everywhere; starting from the highest corridors of power, all the way down to also command respect from the lowest street-wise bar-drinker. You can find Christo Johnson fitting easily within the red carpeted halls of State House or on the hard cement floor of Pa Thompson’s drinking bar along Pademba Road. He is a man for all seasons!
Christo Johnson, an indigene of Waterloo, is unassuming but with a wealth of experience and extensive contacts borne out of years of covering news and newsmakers in this country. There are few people in Sierra Leone who can pick up the phone and demand and receive positive responses from either of varying sides of the political, social and economic spheres of this country. Commissioner Christo Johnson is one such person. Indeed, many of us are proud that we have someone like him within our midst in this country. I have not always agreed with decisions of the IMC however, despite my reservations about the IMC, there is one thing I will say without any hesitation at all. This is, that Commissioner Christo Johnson is an asset to not only the IMC but to this country called Sierra Leone. Three cheers for Commissioner Christo Johnson!
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.