When events become non-events
It has to be granted to the All Peoples Congress Party, the APC. The wheels of its propaganda machines are well greased and run so smoothly that they could even sell one’s own mother to oneself without one hardly noticing the event. I must doff my hat to the minister of information and communication who when it comes to that kind of manoeuvre does an excellent job. I am not sure what budget he has for it but it is certainly paying huge dividends. (Photo: Dr Sama Banya)
Take news reporting of cases of high handed action by APC operatives, or worse still recent cases of corruption. To certain newspapers the events never happened with a tendency to create the impression that those newspapers which publish such events are anti APC or anti government. By the way I do not refer to stories in the African champion or contributions from the likes of Joseph Sherman, Kabs-Kanu and others which consist of nothing but words. When certain newspapers chase individuals they do so not so much out of public interest but as a personal vendetta against those individuals. Typical examples are the recent cases of corruption taken to court or in out-of-court settlements by the Anti-Corruption Commission. The case of the erstwhile minister of health and sanitation Sheku Koroma is a typical example. Even now the poor man’s case is on appeal before the Supreme Court. Both the ACC and sections of the press made a big deal out of the event. Yet here we are with an embarrassing “Wikileaks” story involving a top minister with a key portfolio.
As I write this story among the ten newspapers that I take daily, only three have reported the embarrassing story. I admit that the information minister has said on the SLBC tea break programme that the information has been investigated and that there is no truth in it. Was the investigation carried out by an independent body or was it an in-house affair. For credibility and to protect the minister’s integrity would it not have been preferable if the ACC conducted them? We witnessed the same attitude in the cocaine trial and before that the leaked ACC report into the affairs of the Bank of Sierra Leone. Two newspapers came out with the story but in only ONE edition of each before it disappeared into oblivion.
On the other hand one could recall the inconsistency, nay double standards if you like into the false allegation and unsuccessful prosecution of honourable Momoh Pujeh then an SLPP Member of Parliament for being in possession of rough and uncut diamonds. First the Tejan-Kabbah haters gave it out that the whole thing was a plot orchestrated by the former President to discredit the MP because he saw Momoh Pujeh as a potential rival and threat in the contest for the leadership of the SLPP. I reported the paradox in this column when the former President appeared on the ‘Hardtalk’ programme of the BBC television in London. Practically the entire thirty minutes was devoted to grilling him on the allegation that his government was so corrupt that he had personally prevented the prosecution of one of his senior ministers on allegation of corruption. That story was to all intents and purposes put out by DFID in Sierra Leone. And yet when the case eventually went to court the poor man was acquitted and discharged for the same reason that the then Attorney-General Solomon Berewa had proffered, which was that while being in possession of rough and uncut diamonds could be a criminal case, it certainly WAS NOT a case of corruption. Now the question remains, will the ACC show any interest in the story concerning the minister of defense in the Wikileaks story, or will it accept the information minister’s explanation as an end of the matter and case closed? But that decision about the rotten NASSIT ferries will continue to hunt the ACC Commissioner.
All these matters remind me of a question once raised by an over anxious editor of the African Champion newspaper, which was, whether the ACC was targeting only the APC? The answer to that question remains, like the words of Sherlock Holmes to his ever-uncomprehending friend, “Elementary my dear Watson.” The newspaper needs to be reminded, if the editor feigns ignorance that the main actors on centre stage are APC operatives, including the erstwhile Director-General of the Maritime Administration Philip Lukulay.
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