From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

FROM OUR TEAM
Sierra Leone Independent Journalists are Safely and Proudly Back in Freetown from Peaceful Jendema
By SYLVIA OLAYINKA BLYDEN
Mar 1, 2012, 17:10

I am writing this piece at 04:00am of today Thursday March 1st 2012. We just returned back from Jendema having left Freetown on the night of Monday February 27th 2012 on an independent journalists' fact-finding mission. It has been informative with lots to report on.

For example, Saturday February 25th 2012 was the day of the disturbance in Jendema. According to numerous Town Elders [I must state I have not cross-checked this], it marks the 30th anniversary of the date Sullay Ndorgborwusi and others started the insurrection against former President Siaka Stevens in Jendema in February 25th 1982! If true, this is amazing ehn?

We left members of the ruling APC and of the opposition SLPP in peaceful co-existence for now but the potential for violence to erupt between the two groups over the issue of ‘mercenary voters’ being registered is very real. They are at peace for now but this is clearly a temporary peace. The stakeholders need to resolve the resentment building up because of the cross-border registrations. The SLPP has very valid concerns which we all should pay attention to.

Opposition SLPP’s Southern Regional Chairman Joseph Marda Kpulun helps ruling APC’s Resident Minister for Eastern Province, William Juana Smith (with walking stick) to enter UN helicopter on the Jendema Field. The two Sierra Leone politicians were all in smiles and exhibiting excellent camaraderie with each other in Jendema. PHOTO CREDIT/Sylvia Blyden.

Dr. Christiana Thorpe and her Elections team also need to understand that their Registrars (at least the ones in Jendema) are operating with GROSS IGNORANCE of Sections 14 and 15 of the Electoral Laws Act especially Sections 15.(2)(a) & (b). More on that and other NEC issues in our subsequent editions.

Sadly, I have now seen the front page of Concord Times of yesterday. I am amazed.

The last communication I received from the Deputy Editor of Concord Times, Olusegun Israel was in the late evening of Monday February 27th 2012 just before 7pm or so. He said he was moving from his house at Leicester Road down to the Awareness Times offices to wait for the vehicle which would take him and other journalists from Freetown to our final destination of Jendema.

Concord Times Deputy Editor sounded very excited and upbeat about the planned trip and repeatedly praised me for the initiative that should see eleven (11) independent journalists from nine (9) independent media houses go and find out right on the ground in Jendema as to what really happened there last weekend.

The Jeep rental company really disappointed us. We had rented three (3) jeeps slated to be at my residence by 6pm but the Rental company only made the vehicles available at almost 11pm. Meanwhile, I had been phoning my Admin Officer at the office to check if all the ten other journalists (I was eleventh) had arrived and he responded positively that they were all there and were being well taken care of alongside having obtained all their safety and hygiene packs.

By the time we fueled the Jeeps and got to Awareness Times, it was past 11pm and I quickly organised for all the journalists to be seated and we just took off as it was so late.

It was around Grafton whilst stopping for some last minute supplies that it hit me that I did not see Olusegun Israel even though indeed there were ten journalists packed into the three jeeps. I asked the other journalists of they had seen him and they all said no. Right there in the presence of the other journalists I repeatedly phoned both Moses and Olusegun but they were not picking up their phones.

I phoned my Admin Officer and he responded that he did not know individual journalists but he had given the travelling packs to all the ten journalists who showed up. It appeared the tenth (10th) journalist turned out to be our new cub reporter Michael Theophilus Kamara who had been hopeful he could join and got the chance of a lifetime for a new cub reporter. Lucky young man!

It was now 11:30pm and we needed to head off so we took off. Meanwhile, the news of the independent mission had already been sent to the Press with the names of the proposed journalists.

Earlier in the day at around 4pm, with his permission, I had posted the name of Olusegun Israel alongside the other names of the journalists on the Internet. This was after the three of us (his Editor Moses Kargbo, Olusegun and myself) had finished confirming that Olusegun would be the one going on behalf of Concord Times.

Editor Moses Kargbo even told me he felt my initiated independent trip to Jendema was so important that he was assigning his Deputy Editor rather than an ordinary reporter. This was in the late afternoon of Monday February 27th 2012. I am not sure what is behind their front page ‘disclaimer’ published yesterday but I am sure I will find out now that I am back in Freetown this morning.

Good morning dear readers.



© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.