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The attacks on sports journalists must stop!

The attacks on sports journalists must stop!

James Fofanah, popularly known as Jay Jay, an official of Mighty Blackpool, one of the fourteen Premier League clubs in Sierra Leone, is in the habit of harassing and molesting Sports journalists in Sierra Leone who he believes are critics of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA).  (Photo: Fofanah known as Jay Jay has been moslesting and harassing Sports journalists [Photo Credit: Ibrahim Yilla])

This tall lanky fellow sometimes physically attacks these sports journalists and he even sometimes does the same thing to other people who say things against the SLFA.

Interestingly enough, Jay Jay holds no position in the SLFA Executive Committee, nor is he working at the association’s secretariat. He is just a strong supporter of the SLFA President, Nahim Khadi, by extension the executive committee.

But he parades himself around as somebody who is even important and powerful than those elected to run the game of football in the country just because he helped Nahim Khadi to win the past two SLFA elections as he was a member of his campaign team in the two elections.

That is why since 2004 when the Nahim Khadi led executive came to power, Fofanah has been busy molesting, humiliating and physically attacking sports journalists in public places, most times at the Freetown National Stadium Presidential pavilion under the pretext that the journalists are bias against the SLFA.

The only sports journalists that are not bias in the eyes and ears of Jay Jay are those who always sing the praises of the SLFA.

Executive members of the SLFA have never used any abusive language against sports journalists in public, not to talk about confronting them.

Let me give you some recent examples of the Jay Jay’s ugly acts perpetrated on sports journalists. Just few weeks ago I and some other individuals had to physically restrain him from beating up a young sports journalist Alhaji Koumba at the National Stadium in Freetown just after taking part in a radio discussion programme.

The other day a female sports journalist Frances Bernard was attacked also at the National Stadium during a Premier League match for expressing her opinion on the Leone Stars coaching saga on radio. Had it not been for the timely intervention of some decent people at the Presidential Pavilion she would have been beaten.

Senior sports journalists Abu Bakarr Kanu, John Conteh, Chris Kamara, all of Kalleone radio to name but a few, have been verbally abused in public in the past by Jay Jay for expressing their opinions on the SLFA on radio shows as well.

Lansana Claye also of Kalleone radio no longer sits at the Presidential pavilion for fear of being attacked by Jay Jay who had threatened the young man to show him his grave if continues to say things about the SLFA that do not please him.

In 2008, Claye was bodily attacked by this same individual at the SLFA football complex at Kingtom in Freetown where he always hangs around as if he’s in charge of the day to day running of the entire in the complex.

Last Saturday at the National Stadium he was seen lambasting sports journalists accusing them of not criticising the Sierra Leone Sports Minister Paul Kamara for not managing well the ticketing and sales aspects of the Sierra Leone vs Niger AFCON 2012 qualifying match in Freetown on June 4th.

He didn’t stop there; he even went further to insult the sports journalists and call them all such of names.

It was not true that journalists failed to condemn Minister Kamara for mismanaging the ticketing and sales aspects of the Niger game, many sports journalists including myself publicly criticised the minister for playing the blame game instead of him taking full responsibility of what went wrong because they were in full control of the match not the SLFA. We did this not to satisfy people like Jay Jay but to uphold the ethics of journalism, one of them is saying the truth.

This forced me as President of the Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL) to go on air and warn Jay Jay to stop his unnecessary attacks on sports journalists.

Just after doing that I was not only verbally abused at the National Stadium but was nearly slapped by Jay Jay who afterwards went out of his way to be given an airtime on one of the local FM stations in Freetown to say false things about me.

As President of SWASAL I’m not against an individual expressing his feelings about what he thinks about someone’s opinion. This is because we as journalists always agitate for freedom of expression, but it has to be done in a responsible manner.

You can make your point without using any insulting language or without any physical attack. In fact it’s against the laws of Sierra Leone to insult or physically attack someone.

We are no longer going to accept any more attacks from Jay Jay and he needs to behave responsibly like other club officials and SLFA executive members are doing.

As President of SWASAL, I’ll fight to the last to protect the rights of sports journalists in Sierra Leone.

So Jay Jay must bring to an end now his years of repulsive behaviour against sports journalists. You’ve been warned!

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