Journalists Complain SLPP to SLAJ
Sierra Leone Association of Journalists
56 Campbell Street
Attack on Journalists at the SLPP 2010 National Conference in Bo
We write to complain and report to you that on the night of Saturday 27th February, 2010, at around 9 PM, ten Journalists were assaulted, some beaten whilst others were molested in the hall of the Bo City by SLPP supporters.
We were invited by the SLPP to cover their National Conference for two days in Bo when we faced such attacks by them.
The First attack was on the Editor of The Exclusive Newspaper, David A. Jabati. He, together with some others were taking photographs of pockets of party dignitaries hanging heads on their 1995 constitution and the revised 2009¬† when suddenly the driver of the Chairman of the SLPP, John Oponjo Benjamin held his hand- stopping him to take photographs.
Jabati asked why he was preventing him from taking pictures, he answered him that he had no right and should he continue, hell will be let loose upon him. Jabati tried to educate him that the meeting was opened and not a closed door session. The chairmanís driver did not listen to him and went on to scold him seriously pushing him about six meters to the door. No sooner that was happening, other plain clothes security men believed to be attached to the SLPP chairman joined in raining slaps and kicks on Jabati.
What was worrying was that, the incidence of Jabati occurred just closer to where the top executives of the party were standing which should have just warranted a micro-phone shout of stop. But they did not.
We also want to report Mr. President that when Jabati was beaten at the back entrance, it was done so in full view of the SLPP Womenís deputy leader, Harriatu Turay, the Assistant Secretary General Alpha Timbo and the SLPP caucus MP leader for Bo, Eric Jumu. They did nothing to arrest the situation.
Mr. President, as if that was not enough, some other Journalists later faced the ferocious hands of some members of the SLPP.
The incidence was that, Jacob Jusu Saffa, the SLPP Secretary General had moved a motion that the serving executive members of their party should be given the right to contest for Presidential or running mate should they resign their posts six months to election. That was the scene that the reporter for AWOKO Newspaper; Ishmael Bayoh wanted to capture when members were at each other and when others were leaving the hall.
The threat alone on his life for taking photographs was enough to have killed him.
He was spotted by many and he was rushed upon to surrender his camera. He was seriously assaulted and save for the timely intervention of the SLPP Western Area chairman, Lansana Fadika, Ishmael Bayoh would have been something else. The advances on him caused the Kailahun District chairman Tom Nyuma to further protect him and the Womenís leader, Mrs. Isatu Kabbah by securing his camera.
Sulaiman Storm Koroma of radio democracy 98.1 was also recording when the red light from his tape hidden in his chest pockets was spotted. In trying to protect his tape, he received several slaps. A camera man of the SLBS, Idrissa Sesay lost his phone while he was rushed upon to get away with his camera and tripod. So also were Aruna P. Kamara and Alimamy Lahai Kamara who did not escape the "constitutional
Mr. President, Mohamed Kabbah reporting for the Awareness Times Newspaper, Abdul Kamara of Star radio, James Fillie of Eastern radio Kenema and Bampia Bundu of the Awareness Times newspaper also suffered molestation at the hands of the SLPP members.
That was how it happened to us and we call on your esteemed office to move positively against that as we have now become prone to attacks by the politicians on the one hand and security men on the other hand.
You would recall Mr. President that when some Journalists were beaten at State House by the Police, the SLPP blamed the APC and called them all sorts of names of being brutal and thugs. We ask the question; what are they?
We count on your esteemed office and avowed commitment for the protection of Journalists from physical harm while conducting their legitimate business.
David A . JabatiI