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It’s not only ludicrous, it’s a sham

It’s not only ludicrous, it’s a sham

There are times when words fail me, and this is one such rare occasion. After years of countless complaints from members of the reading public as well as members of the journalism profession, the previous government in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) set up the Independent Media Commission (IMC) by an Act of Parliament. Among its functions were the registration and the regulation of newspapers and radio stations. From time to time complainants have expressed dismay and disappointment with some of its decisions. Many of us still feel that it is a better arrangement than the government having to impose such regulations on a free press. Regular readers of the Standard Times newspaper and of the Puawui column may recall that we have had harsh exchanges in the past between the managing editor and me over his habit of unjustified character assassination of people who may not be in position to reply. Some other of the paper’s publications have in my view been nothing short of pornography and I have never hesitated to state so. The editor on his part has often responded with vulgarity and abuses necessitating friendly people to admonish me not to reply, advice that I have always turned down on the conviction that it was not a deterrent. I have described other actions of the editor as not only dishonest but bordering on criminality.

In one publication the newspaper alleged that I was in possession of a brand new Mazda car which was a gift from a Michael Fletcher whom I had appointed honorary Consul of France to Sierra Leone. I was neither in possession of a Mazda car, old or new, nor did I appoint Mike Fletcher honorary French consul. Then there was a most obscene photograph where the head of a lady who could only have been Awareness editor Sylvia Blyden was cropped on the naked body of a woman looking most suggestively into rebel leader Foday Sankoh’s eyes. I called it a new low in journalism; even the lame IMC condemned the publication. In yet another publication during the controversy whether or not to pay Wanza for a gunboat which he had allegedly supplied to the NPRC government the editor produced a photograph of former President Tejan-Kabbah in a cordial tete-tete with Wanza. It turned out the photograph had been cropped as a third person Ken Azzad had been left out. Once again I called the action dishonest and bordering on criminality. The editor published a letter from a so-called SLPP task force asking the party executives for money, drugs and medicine to enhance their preparedness for the 2012 Presidential elections. The Party lodged a formal complaint with the IMC which established that the newspaper had no basis for the allegation and ordered the editor to make a public apology to the party and to pay damages. Neville blasted the commission alleging that they only met because of the sitting fees and the refreshment. Up to this moment the commission has done nothing about the matter. Neville had been a member of the commission when he was acting as President of SLAJ. While on a visit to Washington he had called President Kabbah to say that he was just coming from a meeting where some Sierra Leoneans had collected a large sum of money which they planned to send back home for the purpose of setting off unrest in the country. That turned out to be a lie and when I confronted Neville about this before the commission his answer was that he was doing a patriotic duty and he and President Kabbah had “been very close friends until Dr. Banya (me) intervened.”

Neville had published a photograph of me with the story that I had seduced my sister from her husband and then had a son with her. When I made a formal complaint to the IMC for the accusation of incest, Neville produced a witness from Kailahun, but the IMC was not satisfied with his evidence. But then it came to the conclusion that because both my sister and her husband were dead and because it had no facilities to carry out DNA tests it was taking no action but warned journalists to check their facts before publication. Because Neville could not substantiate his story, did the commission expect me to prove my innocence? What warped minds those people are. As for Neville’s complaint against me in connection with the above allegations, the commission came out with the following ridiculous conclusions which I came across only yesterday. It did not have the decency, let alone courtesy to send me a copy of its findings.

The complaints committee recommended that Dr. Sama Banya could not prove that Mr. Neville was always doctoring pictures (Twice was NOT enough)

Cropping photographs is acceptable in journalism and there was nothing wrong in Mr. Neville cropping the pictures of Azzad and Wanza

That the complainant Mr. Neville was not a criminal (His action only bothered on criminality)

While picture cropping was acceptable in journalism, the way pictures are cropped could be misleading. All editors should therefore be warned to be cautious as to how they crop pictures. (What ludicrous DOUBLE SPEAK!!!)

THE Board however believes that Dr. Sama Banya was wrong to have labeled Mr. Neville a convict because according to available records Mr. Neville has never been convicted in a court of law.

That my reader is the case from an inept commission that had publicly abrogated its mandate to government over the closure of SLPP radio station. I repeat that Mr. Neville’s actions border on criminality and I don’t care whether or not he has been convicted, both he and the IMC may do what they please. I know what I am going to do about his allegation of incest against me.

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  • I have been appointed by the French Government and very honoured to serve both countries, Sierra Leone and France.
    I have a deep respect for Dr Sama BANYA who was not Foreign Minister when my brevet was signed. What to expect from people like Mr NEVILLE who are very well known for their constant way of very bad behaviour. What is IMC doing ??

    31st May 2010

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