Do these so called editors understand the issues?
Some pro APC propagandists appear not to really understand some of the issues about which they write, sometimes spreading their confused logic over several pages of their newspapers. How often have I reminded them of Shaki’s adage, to “Engage brain before engaging mouth.’’ If only they carried out a little investigation so as to arm themselves with basic facts it would save them embarrassments in hindsight. (Photo: Dr. Sama Banya)
Last week it was announced that a Togolese lawyer representing the families of the victims of the Paramount helicopter crash at Lungi airport which had claimed the lives of all 23 passengers on board had issued a writ of summons against the Sierra Leone government. I am not sure how many people were au fait with the legal grounds for the action and the SLBC took pains to get various people concerned with the facts to educate the listening public. Without the benefit of some of the facts elicited, the APC mouthpiece the Torchlight newspaper which is not generally credited with well researched stories came out with a blazing front page headline, “SLPP government shames Salone.” The newspaper then went into a lot of words in criticizing the previous SLPP government in its handling of the affair. How I wish that in its own interest the editor had waited for the basic facts. But it was the SLPP and the miserable man smelt blood.
What are the facts of the case? In 2007, members of the Togolese football team and their officials, along with a minister were on a chartered Paramount helicopter flight from the Paramount helipad in Aberdeen to the Lungi international airport to board a plane for their return flight to Lome when the engine caught fire as it approached the runway. It landed in flames which could not be put out and all on board perished.
Our minister of Transport and communication Dr. Prince Harding visited the spot and as is done elsewhere tendered his resignation to facilitate an inquiry into the crash.
From what has been officially released so far, the International Civil Aviation Organisation was contacted to initiate an independent expert investigation into the course of the crash. It has also been released that the Togolese government also sent an expert to the scene. Contrary to wild rumours it has been confirmed that the helicopter WAS INDEED LICENSED and INSURED. The owner of the company himself visited Sierra Leone. These technical investigations do take time and for us it was a time of hectic political activities in spite of which President Tehan-Kabbah visited the scene.
The Paramount helicopter company is wholly private owned with no Sierra Leone shareholding, not even by the government. The Togolese government and the representatives of the victim’s families were said to have been fully informed of the proceedings. Somewhere along the line the matter was not pursued with the company’s owners.
Now the government is being sued but on what grounds? Failure to prevent the crash? Allowing a non airworthy helicopter to fly, with unqualified pilots who incidentally also lost their lives?
In what I would only describe as irresponsible journalism, without being possession of these and other facts the Torchlight newspaper editor blasts the then government of shaming Sierra Leone, HOW? Was it the legal responsibility of the Sierra Leone government to pursue insurance claims for the victims of a private foreign owned craft? Is it not absolutely reckless and irresponsible for a biased and ignorant editor to blot out that the SLPP government shamed the country? When, but oh when will these yeliba editors educate themselves on the basic principles of running a reliable news medium?
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