OCTOBER 14, 2014 By Sahr Morris Jnr.
Three sports journalists who were barred from covering Sierra Leone’s 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches in Yaoundé, Cameron and eventually deported will today arrive in Freetown on board Royal Air Maroc.
The three journalists – Mohamed Fajah Barrie of the BBC and president of the Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL), Frank Cole – editor of Leone Sports newspaper and secretary general of SWASAL, and Mohamed Kelfala Sesay of Mercury Radio – will arrive in Freetown together with the deputy Director of Sports, M.A. Kabba and Leone Stars’ team coordinator, James Fofanah aka ‘Jay-Jay’.
According to SWASAL president Barrie, their deportation was confirmed by the Cameroonian police commissioner on the pretext that they were not part of the official delegation communicated to the Cameroonian football authorities.
“A Police Commissioner had a meeting with us who were in Yaoundé to cover the Sierra Leone versus Cameroon 2015 AFCON matches and informed us – together with two Leone Stars officers James Fofanah and M.A. Kabba – that we will be deported back to Sierra Leone…,” Barrie said.
It was also reported that all five were not included in the Sierra Leone delegation list by the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA). The list was forwarded to the Cameroonian authorities with an Ebola clearance certificate. The omission of the journalists and the officials from the list was said to have frightened the Cameroonian authorities thus leading to the journalists and officials being restricted from moving out of their hotel in Yaoundé until their deportation date.
General secretary of the SLFA, Chris Kamara, said the deportation of the sports journalists and Ministry of Sports officials had nothing to do with them, arguing that they did their part as an FA to enable the journalists and two officials stay in Cameroon.
He said: “We did our part but there are some people who never find joy in whatever the FA does that is good. Whatever happens to these journalists is all their making because they refused to listen to advise even before they left.”
Kamara also stated that the Cameroonian FA had told the SLFA that the case of the journalists was above them, as it was “a breach of immigration rules”.