By Amin Kef (Ranger)
Despite the fact that it is uncommon, in the wake of the repeal of the Libel and Seditious Law, for journalists and media outlets to come under violent attacks, however, there have been isolated cases when such have occurred.
In the afternoon hours of Monday, 23rd October 2023, the office and staff of Hope Radio FM 93.3 in Makeni came under attack by a group of thugs allegedly sent by one Alie Benson Conteh, the landlord of the premises housing the radio on 4 Field Road Makeni City, Northern Sierra Leone.
The thugs forcefully entered the radio building, vandalized the equipment and physically manhandled several staff. The Proprietor of the Radio, Stanley Bangura Jr, who arrived at the scene after alerting the Police, was also assaulted by a man identified as ‘Babah Bio’.
With the intervention of the Police in Makeni some arrests were made and an investigation into the matter is ongoing while the radio staff are responding to treatment at the Makeni Regional Hospital.
It was understood that the radio station has a legal tenancy agreement to expire on the 31st of December 2023.
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has vehemently condemned the attack. President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, and a cross-section of his Executive visited the Mena Police Station in Makeni on their way from Bumbuna to inquire about the matter. The North-East Regional Commander, AIG Aiah Edward Samadia informed the SLAJ delegation that the owners of the premises and their lawyer came to the police station on Sunday, 22nd October 2023 requesting the police to forcefully evict the radio, but he advised them to follow due process.
“An attack on a radio station and its journalists is an attack on democracy. It is amazing how Sierra Leoneans have developed a culture of taking the law into their own hands. This lawlessness must stop, and we urge the Police to ensure the alleged culprits are brought to book,” said Nasralla.