The West African State of Sierra Leone has in the past and is still being singled-out as an outstanding example of states that have an exemplary record for the respect of human rights and the rule of law. The Head of State, Dr, Ernest Bai Koroma, has won many accolades and recognition from world leaders and human rights organisations across the globe for his exceptional tolerance and non-aggressive reaction to criticism from opposition elements and the media. Sierra Leone is one of only a few countries in the world where journalists are free to write and criticise the government and the presidency without any fear of being incarcerated or attacked by any state security apparatus. But this press freedom has been repeatedly abused by those who run the fourth estate with greed and personal vendetta. Journalists are abusing it with misguided and contumelious rage designed to cause maximum damage to the presidency and the state. The Country’s independent Media Commission now believe that the line has been crossed as recent publications by some reckless newspaper editors intended to cause a rift between the President and his Vice President was seen as over-the-board, and the commission stepped in to take punitive action and the law was allowed to take its natural course which has resulted in some journalists being charged to court for insulting the President.
It is not uncommon for opposition politicians in Africa to influence and compromise the ethical arrangement of journalists in a country. The Sierra Leone Opposition SLPP Party, a reckless outfit of former looters of the state coffers , who regrouped recently to have one final attempt to wage war on the country’s finances, but had the door slammed on their faces by the electorate , coming out to vote in numbers to re-elect a government that has taken its priorities seriously and brought in a dramatic overhaul of how the state machinery is run, have reportedly been bribing journalists to write all kinds of make-believe and fabricated stories to discredit the president and present a twisted version of things happening on the ground. And this has seen a wave of unpleasant headlines, some with alarming and insulting tone to misinform the public and create consternation and fear while placing doubts in the minds of the people about the true intentions of the sitting government . It is indeed disgraceful when some who are supposed to be the guardians of the media institutions in the country, engage in a personal media war and use their positions in the media to demonise the presidency for one reason or another.
The actions of the IMC has in no way dented the extraordinary reputation and human rights record of the President, as the IMC is an independent entity made up of some of the country’s most respected and independent- minded individuals – an institution that has time and again shown that it cannot be politically compromised. Contrary to media speculation by some unscrupulous press houses, the Sierra Leone President did not order the arrest of any journalist. The country has laws, and the IMC is there to ensure that the media laws are not broken and that all in the profession are accountable for any false publication or slander on their part. Those who have been arrested are themselves fully aware of the laws of the land and deliberately breaking the law while consciously being aware of the consequences of doing so is of their own making and their arrests and detention do not deserve any apologies from either the government or the IMC. When reckless journalists decide to embark on a mission to abuse their positions in the media by engaging in acts to cause disrepute to the very Head of State who has ensured a guaranteed, fair and remarkable press freedom unseen across sub-saharan Africa, then they should face the full force of the law
There is no rift between the president and his Vice President. The Vice President is an extension of the institution of the presidency. They work closely together and the Vice President, according to the constitution, is the principal adviser to the president, these two gentlemen have never made public that there is any rift between them, so why the machinations to instigate something that does not exist? It is the twisted mind of the Opposition SLPP at work here, hoping that a rift between them would destabilise the political machinery of the state, thereby causing chaos. Such evil intentions will never play well in the minds of Sierra Leoneans who are fully cognisant of the deceitful mindset of some who preside over the country’s oldest political union.
The APC government of President Ernest Bai Koroma stand tall with an unblemished human rights record, and its reputation as a guarantor of civil liberty and press freedom is fully intact and cannot be tarnished because of the deliberate actions of a few who decide to take the law into their own hands. The pen is definitely mightier than the sword, but not when it is used to discredit the tenets of the media profession in an to attempt to destroy the reputation of someone whose record stands out as the best leader a country has ever seen. The Head of State is definitely not keen on stifling press freedom, it has been part of his Agenda for Change and he fully understands that for a country to develop, it must have a free press.
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