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We Condemn Attacks Against Journalists And Demand That Perpetrators Be Brought To Justice

April 3, 2018 

At least two Journalists were targeted and brutalised last Saturday, March 31, while they went about performing their constitutional mandate of providing accurate and impartial information to the public.

Sierra Leone may not be a haven of absolute press freedom, but this cowardly attacks on independent journalists have left the journalism fraternity perplexed and petrified in the midst of tension and acrimony that have characterised the run-off election.

Patrick Jaiah Kamara of Concord Times was attacked and brutalised by a goon called Sanusi Bruski Kargbo and a ragtag coterie who appeared visibly inebriated, including the disgraced former Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Herbert George Williams.

Patrick, a young and precocious reporter, who is also a student at the Mass Communications Department at Fourah Bay College, and two of his colleagues – editor Abu-bakarr Sheriff and Ishmael Sallieu Koroma– were covering the run-off presidential election. We had visited other polling stations, interviewing political actors from both sides, National Elections Commission officials and voters. Our next stop was Mafa Field in Lumley, west of Freetown, where voting had stopped for at least an hour because Bruski and his gang of buffoons were on the rampage!

We arrived at the scene without any idea that they were attacking anyone they suspected of being opposition supporters and journalists. Patrick had on him a Cannon EOS 70D camera and a recorder which were donated to our newspaper by the Chinese Embassy in Freetown just before the March 7 elections. The poorly educated Sanusi Bruski, who ironically wants to head the Sierra Leone Football Association, may have been jittery that his jungle antics has been captured on camera, hence his decision to physically attack our colleague. His ragtag collection of thugs also joined the fray to physically assault the young journalist.

The uncouth Bruski rushed at Patrick with the ferocity of a predator zombie on the prowl to satisfy his appetite for blood. He violently yanked the camera, strapped on the neck of Patrick, destroyed the zoom and illegally confiscated the memory card which had tonnes of pictures as part of our elections coverage. As if that was not enough, the thugs under his control and acting on his directives repeatedly hit Patrick on his head, temple and cheekbone. They brutalised the young man, tore his shirt and vest, and stole his money, all in the full view of both the police and military that had been deployed at polling stations to ostensibly provide security.

Also, on the same day and within the same Lumley community, another journalist, Ibrahim Samura of the New Age newspaper was reportedly attacked and beaten by the same gang of reprobates. He sustained a swollen arm. His colleague, Thomas Dixon, editor of Salone Times, had to run to safety. Again, security officers stood by indifferent as the two journalists were brutalised.

We vehemently and unequivocally condemn both attacks on peaceful and law-abiding journalists as they perform their duty. Journalists, like citizens, have fundamental rights that are protected by our constitution which everyone, not least politicians who want to be voted into office, should respect and uphold.

We call on the All Peoples Congress Party to condemn this brazen attack on journalists and to take punitive action against the ringleaders who are known operatives of the party.

We further call on the Sierra Leone Police to speedily investigate the matter and bring the culprits to justice sooner rather than later.

We shall not rest until we are satisfied that the perpetrators of this cowardly and shameful act are adequately punished and our damaged equipment replaced.

Long Live Press Freedom! And May Unity, Freedom and Justice reign!

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