National Chairman & Leader of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), has yesterday contacted this medium to appeal for members of staff not to misunderstand the intent of a reported interview he gave to Global Times newspaper yesterday, in which the impression was given that he had described Awareness Times publications in a negative manner.
ďI understand staff members of Awareness Times are upset with me for allegedly describing your newspaper in a negative manner to Global Times. I want you to please speak directly to your senior colleague, George Khoryama who was the person who interviewed me from Global Times and investigate for yourself if I ever said such words of denunciation against Awareness Times,Ē Benjamin said adding that ďmany people have misinterpreted my position because of the manner in which my concerns were presented over the issue of Maada Bio and your newspaper so let me state here to you on record that I will never describe Awareness Times as an enemy of the SLPP because your newspaper is not an enemy of SLPP ď.
This is not the first time that Benjamin is speaking directly to this newspaper as a senior politician of the SLPP on issues concerning Maada Bio, one of the SLPP aspirants for flagbearer. The Editor of this newspaper, Abdul Karim Fonti Kabia has made some disclosures last evening.
ďA fact that I can today reveal is that in December 2010 and again in January 2011, John Benjamin made several personal overtures directly to me as Editor and to other members of staff of this newspaper to try to bridge the problems between Maada Bio and this newspaper. Infact, in January 2011, both Mr. Benjamin and the National Coordinator of Maada Bioís Campaign Team, John B.S. Tucker individually phoned me up one evening to ask for a ceasefire in the Maada Bio matter whilst faithfully promising that Mr. Maada Bioís Campaign Team will issue a Press Statement denouncing violence especially against journalists,Ē Abdul Fonti insists.
ďOn that day, they both spoke to me and also to Bampia Bundu from the premises of Sylvia Blyden, the Publisher of this newspaper where John Tucker and John Benjamin had gone with one Mr. Bun Wai of Maada Bioís Campaign to try to smooth things out between Awareness Times and Maada Bio himselfĒ Abdul Fonti continued.
According to Editor Fonti, ďLamentably, despite the efforts of John Benjamin, not only did Maada Bio not issue out the promised Press Statement but his regional coordinators granted an even worse interview to PUNCH NEWSPAPER a few days after Benjamin and John Tuckerís phone calls to usĒ. It is a fact that members of staff of this newspaper have been shocked to read the April 4th 2011 Letter signed by Maada Bio with contents making believe as if John Benjamin had never made any effort to help Maada Bio out of Bioís self-inflicted public relations mess with Awareness Times. It will be recalled that Bio, in a most un-presidential manner, had used his phone to place a threatening call to Mr. Abdul Fonti, this paperís Editor simply because we had published an Advise to him which he did not appreciate. Following this, supporters of Bio accosted and beat up one of the most senior reporters of the newspaper, Bampia James Bundu right on the Law Court premises in full view of the public.
Shockingly, in a display not expected of a potential leader, Maada Bio refused to denounce the beating-up of Journalist Bampia Bundu and rather than trying to reconcile with this newspaper, he has been stoking up the flames by severally describing journalists here in defamatory terms including insisting that we have been paid money to write about him. Bio also openly spread foul lies against our dedicated team both over National Television and Radio as well as to journalists in Kenema and to numerous villages and towns all over the South and East of the country.
Meanwhile, publisher of Awareness Times, Sylvia Blyden will be elaborating on this and other issues concerning Maada Bio, in a live radio interview tomorrow Saturday April 16th 2011 on David Tam Baryohís ĎMonologueí programme. The ĎMonologueí radio interview will, for the first time ever, also be re-broadcast to the whole wide world through a special Internet Satellite link. This means everything Dr. Sylvia Blyden will have to say tomorrow will become available to everybody around the world. The broadcast radio interview can be heard from the special broadband Internet Satellite Link through the two Awareness Times websites of awarenesstimes.com and www.awarenesstimes.com which will both contain the voice link of David Tam-Baryohís interview.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.