Julius Maada Bio, one of the 23 aspirants vying for the position of Sierra Leone's main opposition party's flagbearer for 2012 Elections, is a retired military officer who once was part of an NPRC Military Junta regime period that a democratic Sierra Leone will prefer not to return to. It was a period of junta soldiers taking it upon themselves to beat up citizens who were not in support of some of the violent excesses of the military regime. It will appear as if despite the years of interregnum in between the NPRC Junta days and contemporary democratic Sierra Leone, the retired military officer, Maada Bio is keen to return this country back to those NPRC days as he is now threatening journalists over the Phone whilst his thugs have viciously beat up a Journalist right inside Law Courts premises yesterday!! The two letters below speak for themselves!
From Mr. Bampia James Bundu
17 Garrison Street, Freetown
22nd December 2010
President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist SLAJ
56 Campbell Street
Letter of Complaint against Supporters of Maada Bio
I write to officially report supporters of one of the Aspirants for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio who have threatened to further deal with me and a supposed list of journalists they say are against Maada Bio becoming the next President of Sierra Leone. This was after they had beaten me up right inside the sacred premises of the Law Courts Building of the Sierra Leone Judiciary.
On 22nd December 2010 I went to cover a matter in court, when I learnt that supporters of the aforementioned aspirant Maada Bio were in court for a matter related to violence at the SLPP headquarters. I witness the proceedings at Magistrate Court number 3 presided by Magistrate Bankole Shyllon. The accused person was denied bail and was remanded at the maximum Pademba Road Prison after it was discovered he had no fixed abode and disputed real identity. His colleagues who openly identified themselves as supporters of General Maada Bio left the court unhappy.
I also left the court room and whilst trying to adjust my digital camera properly in its strap, from nowhere I saw one huge fellow who was later identified as Mr. Foday Yansaneh and was accompanied by one Mr. Benya rushed at me and buckled up my shirt by the collar whilst using totally unacceptable and unprintable languages on me accusing me of working for Awareness Times newspaper and taking his picture unlawfully.
I was extremely frightened and in a state of shock as he rained two blows on my face right inside the court corridors whilst saying, “we know that you are a journalist and you want to take our picture to go and write!”.
At this point, other journalists had arrived at the scene and witnessed as the Maada Bio supporters grabbed my camera and twisted my hands.
“You people are the ones who have been writing nasty about our leader Maada Bio and today, we will set an example with you. You are going to be the lesson to all the journalists writing against Maada Bio” Foday Yansaneh snarled to the hearing of all passing in the compound.
Journalists tried to intervene but yet still Foday Yansaneh got other members of the gang of Maada Bio supporters to forcibly checked the digital camera to see if their picture was inside. Of course, they found not a single shot of them inside but still they held me captive showing that the camera was just an excuse used to beat me up.
Other journalists tried to get me released but they were unable to stop the Maada Bio thugs.
Had it not been for the intervention of one female Police Inspector who later identified herself to journalists as Inspector E.I.M. May, I should have been hospitalized or dead by now. I thank God for that female police officer as she physically fought with the Maada Bio supporters to remove me from their grip. I am still frightened as my life is at risk because the thug who was later identified as Foday Yansaneh openly threatened to deal with me severely. He said they already have a list of journalists who are against Maada Bio and some of these journalists will “soon be taken care of”.
It is important to note that Brigadier Maada Bio himself had used his Comium phone of 033-455555 to personally call up my Editor, Abdul Karim Fonti Kabia on our office phone line this past Friday December 17th 2010 to make vile and threatening remarks against Fonti Kabia because of an article carried by our newspaper on that day advising him against violent supporters. It is shocking that a Presidential aspirant will place a phone call to try to levy petty insults and threats at a newspaper’s editor. It is even more frightening to think that this man wants to become the next President of Sierra Leone seeing that his supporters are showing us a taste of how they believe journalists should be treated.
I therefore call on SLAJ to take this matter very seriously. We have come a long way for this country to start thinking of going back to the days of military junta men attacking and beating up journalists for criticising their violent acts.
Bampia James Bundu
National Organizing Secretary of the Sierra Leone Reporters Union(SLRU) and Senior Reporter of Awareness Times News Paper.
|Bampia Bundu is the latest victim of Maada Bio’s supporters thuggery
From Acting Editor Awareness Times
To: President, SLAJ
56 Campbell Street
22nd December 2010
Re: Complaint Against Maada Bio’s Intimidation
I write to inform the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) that I have been subjected to intimidations for the past several days.
It all started on Friday 17th December 2010 following the Awareness Times Newspaper publication of that day.
I telephoned Julius Maada Bio, SLPP Flagbearer aspirant, in the evening hours of Thursday 16th December 2010, in my capacity as Acting Editor of Awareness Times, seeking his comment on allegations that his supporters were smoking djamba and harassing people at the SLPP Headquarters, and other related issues. He arrogantly answered to questions I posed to him. However, I discretionally decided not to publish the negative utterances Bio made against his colleague contenders and the political party he is representing.
I was therefore bemused when I received an unusual telephone call from Maada Bio in the morning hours of Friday 17th December 2010, threatening me for writing what he described as negative articles against him.
Using his +232 (33) 455555 mobile line, he queried thus: “Is this Abdul Fonti”, and I responded in the affirmative. “So you are the one writing negative articles against me eh?” he impolitely asked. When I responded that I did not understand what he was talking about, he sounded more offensive and stated: “Well, you will understand by the time I am done with you. Hope you are not a stranger to the fact that I am a man with a large following?” Whatever that meant remained a puzzle to me until I started receiving life threatening telephone calls from unidentified individuals using private/restricted numbers. These individuals have been warning me to desist from publishing articles against Maada Bio and his supporters, with threats that a continuation of such puts my life on the line.
Initially, I discarded the threats under two considerations: I refused to believe that somebody aspiring for the position of President of Sierra Leone could resort to using violence as an option for his campaign to the citadel of power. Also, I forced myself to believe that the numerous telephone calls were empty threats aimed at creating unnecessary fear in me and by extension discouraging me from further publications on Maada Bio’s supporters’ thuggery.
But following a brutal physical attack against my reporter at the Law Court building by alleged supporters of Maada Bio, I now have a different take on the threats against my life.
I now feel more threatened and prone to brutal attacks. And being a paid up member of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), I seek the intervention and protection of the association before things get out of hand.
I am merely doing my job as a professional journalist tasked with informing the people, and I consider such threats on my life are tantamount to restricting my freedom and that of my family.
I look forward to the association’s prompt response.
Abdul Karim Kabia (Fonti)
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.