June 21, 2016 By Alusine Sesay & Ibrahim Jaffa Condeh
Proprietor and manager of Citizen Radio, Dr. David Tam-Bayoh, who just won a litigation in the High Court against the Independent Media Commission (IMC), has stated that the media regulator should compensate him cost to the tune of Le760m.
It could be recalled that the Independent Media Commission (IMC) suspended the popular Monologue programme presented by Dr. Tam-Bayoh late last year over a broadcast relating to the controversial purchase of 100 buses by Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Koromoa. Dr. Tam-Bayoh, who was not satisfied with the decision, sued the IMC to court, as he sought a judicial review into whether the commission has the powers to suspend his Monologue programme. He also alleged malice as the main motive of the ruling by the IMC, headed by Amb. Allieu Kanu.
However, having presided over the matter for the past seven months, Justice Musu Kamara of the Freetown High Court on 17 June, 2016 delivered her judgement in which she noted that the decision of the IMC was unjust and harsh, thus ruling that the media regulator should compensate the media owner and journalsist.
In an interview with Concord Times at his Old Railway Line office in Freetown, Tam Bayoh noted that “The suspension caused me emotional and professional problems. They stopped me from making 20 million Leones per week on adverts after 38 weeks of suspension. Therefore, they should pay me 760 million Leones as compensation.”
He said he was in talks with his lawyer, Emmanuel Saffa Abduali, as to the calculation of compensation to be paid him.
He said he was happy with the ruling as it has established the fact that the IMC had no reason to ban his Monologue programme, adding that they contravened the dictates of the IMC Act 2000.
“I took the IMC to court because I thought they acted rashly, hastily, untimely and illegally. I also found out that journalists were fined heavily and that the IMC thought there was no good journalist. They had wanted to satisfy the Minister of Transport and their decision bore malice against him,” he said.
On his opinion about the judiciary, he said “One doesn’t make a whole out of a judgement. One judgement does not determine as to whether the judiciary was the best. I would not also criticise them but the fact remains we had a fine case.”
He said the ruling would not only impact on his profession but on the entire journalism profession in Sierra Leone, adding that journalists had not always been wrong and that they should be professional by making sure that they get their facts right before going to press.
He urged the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and other bodies to ensure that people of right caliber and experience are appointed as commissioners of the IMC, so that proper decisions would be taken by the media regulator.
He opined said if not checked, the IMC could in future behave in a way that the government would be suspicious that they were fueling conflict between them and journalists.