By Amin Kef-Ranger
The Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) has stated that it welcomes the move made by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to launch an investigation into the allegations concerning the attack of journalist, Maada Jessie Jengo of the Voice of Peace and Development (VOPAD) radio by soldiers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.
The Office of the Directorate of Defence, in a press release issued on the 8th July 2022 stated that “the MOD regrets the unfortunate occurrence which does not represent the RSLAF core values of good discipline and selfless service.”
It continued that the MOD notes that its attention was drawn to the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) press release of 4 July 2022 reporting the alleged assault of the journalist.
The MOD further added that, “the soldiers have been identified and an investigation into the allegations is ongoing in accordance with military procedures.” It assured SLAJ of RSLAF’s commitment for mutual cooperation and cordial relationship in the discharge of their duties.
Meanwhile, the MRCG also welcomes the move by the Clerk of Sierra Leone’s Parliament to constitute a committee to investigate an alleged ‘physical assault’ on journalist Abdulai Gbla and make recommendations.
The MRCG stated how it is also delighted that even before the Committee commences investigation, the Clerk of Parliament, according to a press release, issued by SLAJ had apologized to Mr. Gbla.
Also highlighted by the MRCG in its monthly Media Freedom Review has been following the matter. It pointed out that Abdulai Gbla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of #Gbla TV Online on 28 June 2022 wrote a letter of complaint to the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) regarding an alleged ‘physical assault’ on him by a Member of Parliament (MP), Hon. Abdul Muniru Lansana of Constituency 121. Hon. Abdul Muniru Lansana in response told the MRCG that he ‘did not assault’ the journalist as he had alleged, but rather ‘hit his phone to stop filming the incident’ after he had previously asked the journalists not to film since the parliamentary sitting had been adjourned.
The MRCG commended the actions of the MOD and the Sierra Leone Parliament to investigate the matters, and looks forward to speedy investigations.
It particularly notes the interventions of SLAJ into the matters and views the steps taken by the institutions as indicative of the fact that the culture of impunity is no longer tolerated in a democratic society like Sierra Leone where the rule of law must prevail.