By Amin Kef (Ranger)
In a Press Release signed and issued on the 9th April,2023 by the National Secretary-General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ),Alhaji Manika Kamara, it was categorically stated that the Association condemns the killing of a Police Officer, ASP Mathew Moiwah Gbanya on Saturday night, 8th April 2023 in the Northern Headquarter town of Makeni further adding that it is also concerned about the safety and security of everybody working and living in the country, as the country heads into public elections on 24th June 2023.
According to SLAJ, report of such an unlawful killing is totally unacceptable and puts the nation in a state of fear and uncertainty.
“This is a very worrisome situation developing in our country. If Police Officers become targets then nobody is safe in this country. I am also concerned about the safety and security of journalists covering the elections. We all need a safe and conducive environment to participate freely in the elections,” said SLAJ President, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla.
Further stated was that SLAJ also notes with further concern a report by the Sierra Leone Police of the alleged shooting of a commercial motorbike rider at Mano Corner, Lumpa, Waterloo where Police found a ‘shotgun, cartridges, super glue, and quantity of face masks’ at the crime scene adding how there seems to be a proliferation of arms and ammunition in the wrong hands.
SLAJ stated that it is calling on the SLP to swiftly, thoroughly, and impartially investigate the incidents and bring the alleged culprits to answer to the law.
SLAJ also maintained that it equally condemns the spreading of messages of incitement promoting hate, division, and violence, and appeals to the public, especially supporters of political parties and journalists at home and abroad, to refrain from disseminating speculative and unsubstantiated information to a gullible public.
It concluded that journalists, especially those working in Makeni, can help the Police with reliable information that will lead to the arrest of whoever is/are responsible.
Also in another development, in the wake of the killing of a Police Officer in Makeni, the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), revealed that they have opened investigations.
This was made known by the SLP in a statement it issued in response to the tragic incident.
“The leadership of the Sierra Leone Police is shocked and saddened by the shooting to death in cold blood of the Operational Support Division Regional Coordinator in the North-East Regional Headquarter town of Makeni – Asp Mathew Moiwah Gbanya, on the night of Saturday 8th April, 2023,” they stated.
The Police further informed that they have launched full-scale investigation into the said incident, with the view to identifying not only the perpetrators but also to determine the motive behind the targeted killing.
“The public will be further briefed as the investigations progress,” SLP stated.
“Meanwhile, The SLP is calling on the public to remain calm and to go about their normal lawful business.”
It must be noted that other organizations have also totally condemned the killing of the Police Officer calling for the perpetrators to be brought to book.
Standing in solidarity with the SLAJ, the Guild of Newspaper Editors Sierra Leone (GoNE-SL) in a Press Statement dated 11th April, 2023 said its attention has been drawn to a post by “Change Media Group” claiming that “several journalists including members of the Guild of Editors have unanimously condemned the recent SLAJ press release on the killing of a senior police officer in Makeni”.
Also stated was that in view of the fact that the aforementioned post has been making the rounds on social media, the Guild unequivocally distances itself from the above post and hereby makes the following clarifications:
- That the said claim is untrue, false, malicious and misleading.
- That the Guild stands in solidarity with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and commits to working closely with SLAJ in addressing the spread of mis/disinformation in the forthcoming elections.
Furthermore, the Guild made it clear how it joins SLAJ to condemn the killing of ASP Matthew Moiwah Gbanya and urges the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) to thoroughly investigate the incident with the view of bringing the perpetrator(s) to justice.
Also, the Guild conveyed its heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family and the entire SLP and encouraged the public to beware of disinformation trends and cross-check every claim with the relevant authorities.