2 radio staff arrested on the orders of a Govt Minister
Freetown – Just three days after Lands Minister Allieu Pat Sowe had ordered the Inspector General of Police to arrest four journalists in Freetown, Minister of Agriculture Dr Sam Sesay has also ordered the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, David Sesay to arrest and detain a presenter and a technician working for KISS FM Radio in Bo, southern Sierra Leone.
Radio presenter Mohamed Daramy and technician Ibrahim Farmer were arrested and detained after 8:00 PM tonight, deliberately to spend the night in a police cell, following an incident that saw the minister’s radio discussion programme discontinued for a pre-arranged radio programme paid for by the mobile phone company, Africell.
The minister had apparently paid for the programme which the station manager, Samuel Haffner said he was not aware of. Shortly after 8:00 PM he tuned to his station and heard a different programme on air. He said he instructed his presenter to discontinue the programme for the prior arranged one by Africell.
Once the programme was discontinued, Minister Sesay immediately called the AIG and ordered him to arrest the journalist and his technician and lock them up. The minister admitted to doing so to the SLAJ President, Umaru Fofana who has referred to the minister’s action “a gross abuse of power and a violation of the fundamental rights of the journalists by the minister who should have followed due process if he thought there was a breach of contract by the radio; rather than order the arrest of the innocent journalists”. The station manager said even though he called two minutes after the programme had been taken off air to apologise and return it on air, the minister and his entourage refused and chose to lock up the workers.
“Coming just three after a similar incident, this is particularly worrisome especially because our police leadership seems to have sunken so low and palm-closed into the hands of the powers-that-be”, Fofana adds. “They fail to use their initiative and choose to always have a knee jerk response to a call from a minister as if procedures don’t exist or the rest of the populace do not have rights”, continues the SLAJ President who leaves tomorrow for Bo.
All efforts to secure the release of the journalists so they don’t spend the night in a cell proved futile up to the time of issuing this release.
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