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Roaming Pen: Ineptitude, Pomposity or Negligence?

Roaming Pen: Ineptitude, Pomposity or Negligence?

Media organizations in Sierra Leone exhibited a typical display of negligence and betrayal to the cause for which they were supposedly established, in the matter between a female journalist called Khadijatu Savage and the outgone Managing Director of Zenith Bank Sierra Leone, Oby Ikeh Unekwe. (Photo: Abdul Karim Kabia (Fonti)- Roaming Pen)

Let me therefore use this forum as an opportunity to state in no uncertain terms my deepest disappointment in the Umaru Fofonah led Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), the Mohamed Massaquoi led Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU) and the Doreen Kalokoh (nee Barrie) led Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL), for their respective ‘roles’ in the matter under review.

In this piece, the Roaming Pen will make public it reservations on the way and manner in which the aforesaid organizations treated the matter of a fellow journalist with levity. I will also reinforce my reasons as to why the Nigerian ‘girl’ must not be forgiven and not worthy to be compared to any of our respected and beautiful Sierra Leonean mothers, especially that of the Roaming Pen’s.

Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU)

All my great expectations for the new executive of the Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU), with Mohamed Massaquoi as the Chairman, were thwarted with the lightness in which the organisation handled the matter of their ‘member’. At first, I was tempted to believe that the executive was immature to handle a matter of that nature. But when I decided to investigate further, it was revealed that the laxity exhibited by the SLRU was as a result of pomposity and insensitiveness towards the plight of a colleague who was subjected to humiliation and psychological torture.

As if the SLRU executive was in support of what Oby did, they sat and watched with total neglect as Khadijatu Savage went through a lot of emotional torture, following the outburst of Oby on Friday 23rd July 2010.

The outgone Zenith MD roundly insulted and threatened the life of Savage for simply being an investigative journalist.

SLRU folds it hands and stayed action as if the issue was none of their business. They remained inactive until the matter was ‘settled’. The reporters organisation did not issue out a press release with regards their position on the issue neither did any member of the executive made any public pronouncement as the matter played out.

The only grounds which the Mohamed Massaquoi led executive could forward after putting on a woeful performance is that the victim never informed the executive formally. That excuse can best be described as childish, owning to the fact that there is no section in the constitution of the SLRU which dictates that a member should make a formal complaint before the association could intervene in such matters.

The SLRU proved itself a force to reckon with during the leadership tenure of Amara Samura. The Samura led executive intervened and pursued matters affecting journalists, especially reporters, irrespective of the fact that the association never received any written or oral complaint prior to those interventions.

To cite a few instances, the then executive of the SLRU intervened in the matter between Theo Nicole and SLAJ in 2008, when Nicole dragged the association to court for rejecting his bid to contest the executive election. SLRU did not only issue a press release on their position but followed the matter until it reached a logical conclusion.

Another instance was the association’s prompt intervention when journalists were mercilessly manhandled by police officers and security personnel attached to State House. A press release condemning the brutal attacks on journalists was promptly issued out. It does not only end there, but the association took a step further to address a letter to the Inspector General of police, calling for a speedy and fair investigation.

These are just two among the numerous instances in which the Samura led executive scored laudable goals even though the executive then was never informed formally.

With the aforementioned realities, it would be safe to say the Mohamed Massaquoi executive has failed woefully in its first test case in barely two weeks after it assumed office, much to the disappointment of the general membership.

SLRU has no excuse to abandon a colleague reporter at a time she needed them most.

There is a very popular adage that states: “A friend in need is a friend indeed” and Massaquoi’s association has clearly demonstrated to Khadijatu Savage that she can never count on them when in need. It was a matter that directly concerns a reporter and the SLRU cannot claim that it was working side by side with SLAJ on this matter when they were actually supposed to take the lead.

Most unfortunate and annoying is the appearance of the SLRU President, Mohamed Massaquoi, on national television on Wednesday 4th August 2010 (12 days after the incident) to make a belated statement on the position of the ‘mumu’ union. The statement was described as belated because the Independent Media Commission (IMC), which does not even have the mandate to preside over such matters, had already intervened and ‘settled’ the matter on Tuesday 3rd August 2010. The matter had already ‘ended’ 24 hours before the SLRU President saw the must for him to make a statement.

Massaquoi appeared on TV to spit grammar for a simple reason, which was to claim credit for a fight his executive never took part in. It is only a coward who drags out a dagger when the battle is already ended, and it would be safe to state, at this juncture, that the SLRU and its president actually succeeded in exhibiting the traits of cowards on this very instance.

Massaquoi’s belated statement and appearance on TV is widely considered as seeking cheap publicity and he only succeeded in turning himself into a public nuisance.

The SLRU was dead when sober minded journalists were busy condemning the act of Oby, and cannot just materialize now from no where to claim credit for a success they were never part of.

When approached by the Roaming Pen as to why the SLRU failed to issue out a statement until now, Chairman Massaquoi said there was no need to issue out statements ‘haphazardly’. He further claimed that it was not necessary for SLRU to make public their position after SLAJ had made a statement. If we are to assume that Massaquoi was right, then why did he appear on TV to make a belated statement? I am also tempted to question the essence of forming the SLRU if SLAJ can adequately handle matters that concern reporters. This was a matter directly affecting a reporter, and the SLRU tasked with the responsibility of protecting reporters, was the most appropriate organisation that should have taken the lead and treat the matter with the seriousness and urgency it deserved.

Also, I was expecting the least journalist organization (cub reporters organisation, if any) to condemn the act of Oby because her outburst was a direct attack on the press.

Pomposity and cowardice is no sure way to govern an association as important as the SLRU. So, I want to advice the SLRU executive to tender an unreserved apology to Khadijatu Savage for letting her down so badly.

Over to you Chairman Massaquoi.


Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) was established to specifically seek the interests of female journalists in Sierra Leone. Since its inception in 2007, WIMSAL has been very active in upholding its mandate until the ugly episode between Khadijatu Savage and outgone Zenith MD.

As if the media has no female organisation, WIMSAL disappointingly remained dormant on this issue. And as at time of writing this piece, not a single executive of ordinary member of WIMSAL has made a statement condemning or supporting the attack launched on their colleague. This situation has left people wondering whether or not WIMSAL is still in existence.

If the said female organisation is still alive, what excuse will it forward for abandoning a female journalist who was roundly insulted and threatened in the line of duty?

WIMSAL has been known as a rapid response team when it comes to issues concerning women, and people are dumbfounded why was the case of Khadijatu treated differently?

What a disappointment WIMSAL has turned itself into? WIMSAL members have proved themselves this time round as a complete opposite of the iron ladies they used to be.

Khadijatu Savage must be sorely disappointed right now at WIMSAL’s display of neglect over her issue.

Martin Luther King Jnr. once said ‘at the end of the war, we will not remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends’, and Khadijatu Savage is not presently remembering the ‘mammy curses’ of Oby, but is deeply saddened by the inaction exhibited by WIMSAL.

The question begging answer from WIMSAL is: why do you disappoint a female colleague so badly at a time she needed you the most?


The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) is the parent body of media organizations in the country, charged with the responsibility to advocate, defend and protect journalists.

Unlike SLRU and WIMSAL, SLAJ issued out a press release condemning Oby’s act and went further to place an ultimatum on Zenith Bank. The one week ultimatum was for a recall of the rude MD. As laudable as it might seem, I must state here that calling for a recall of Oby was a WEAK decision for an organisation like SLAJ to take on an issue of this nature. Does SLAJ think recalling a foreigner who has publicly proved herself as an enemy of the press, a creditable option? It was not and it will never be one. In my view, recalling Oby should have been the second or third option of SLAJ. The first option should have been dragging her to court so that she faces the wrath of the 1965 Public Order Act of Sierra Leone. The best time to demand for her return to Nigeria is after she would have spent at least one or two months at the maximum Pademba Road prisons.

Why and how SLAJ arrived at that unpopular decision for Oby’s recall remains a mystery to a fully paid up member like the Roaming Pen. Normally when issues of this nature arise, an emergency meeting of all members is summoned to deliberate on and map out the way forward prior to making any public pronouncement. This time round, the matter was only raised up in a general meeting days after the executive had already made it position public. So, what was the essence to hold a belated discussion on the issue again?

This is surely an example of occurrences the Roaming Pen was trying to avert when it recently expressed concerns over the internal disagreement in SLAJ and made a passionate plea for a bridge in the gap between the association’s secretary general and the president. SLAJ can never move forward or take sober decisions when the president and secretary general are busy fighting over who has the authority to do what.

Let me reiterate here that the must for SLAJ to put itself in order cannot be overemphasized if only the association is to continue to maintain it position as a force to reckon with.

Oby, not my mother

The Roaming Pen also wants to state here reasons as to why a rude Nigerian ‘girl’ cannot be compared to its mother, and why it does not accept the ‘apology’ of Oby.

Firstly, a person’s maturity is not assessed by age but by her attitude and how he/she conducts himself/herself in public. The Roaming Pen is a strong believer of the concept: ‘age ain’t nothing but number’. No matter Oby’s age, I consider her as nothing other than a ‘girl’, because no woman can do what she did.

Secondly, my mother is beautiful, mature, decent, cultured and a woman of substance; the complete opposite of Oby. My mother will never raise her voice in public not to talk of voicing out unprintable invectives for public consumption.

She might not be wealthy financially, but she is definitely rich in culture, decency, politeness, and pride. She is a true African woman. Therefore, ‘mammy curse’ Oby is not mature enough to be my mother and her lying on the floor and shedding tears on people’s feet does not change the fact that she is a rude and uncultured ‘girl’ who must live with her sins. The African culture preaches respect for humanity irrespective of age, sex or status. So I see no reason to use the African culture of forgiveness for elderly people as a yardstick to weep sentiment for a non-respecter of that very culture.

Thirdly, the spirit of forgiveness preached by the Holy Bible and Holy Quran, must not serve as an excuse to disregard the national constitution with total disrespect. If we were to 100% go by the dictates of the Bible and Quran, then there was no need for creating national constitutions. Irrespective of religion, tribe or sex, everybody is obliged to respect the laws of the land as even the Bible and Quran dictate that one must respect authorities.

In Sierra Leone, you cannot stone somebody to death because he committed fornication as per the dictates of the Islamic Sharia Law and claim that you did it because you are a Muslim, when the fact remains that the national constitution prescribed no punishment for fornication. Bottom line, all must respect the national constitution and what Oby did was a grave contravention of the national constitution.

Let Oby face the wrath of the laws governing Sierra Leone first and can be forgiven later after the Pademba Road Prision would have properly deliver her.

Abdul Karim Kabia (Fonti), Freetown

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  • Roaming pen calm down you are just a rookie in the field of journalism ,some of your analysis are out of context and needed some indept research before you write your articles .

    10th August 2010

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