Sierra Leone: Opposition Spokesman Accuses Minister of Smear! By James Koroma
Spokesperson of the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Sierra Leone has accused the country’s information minister of employing his newspaper to smear the reputation of opposition politicians who are critical of the government’s economic policies.
In a letter addressed to the country’s Independent Media Commission (IMC) against the New Citizen newspaper, NDA spokesman Chernoh Alpha Bah says the newspaper owned by the country’s Information Minister has been publishing an article “that contains very slanderous and defamatory information” against him and other “reputable citizens of the United States of America who are associated with his professional and organizational work.”
He says the truthfulness of the contents of the article, which appeared on the internet some two months ago from members of an organization that his movement was once associated with has been largely challenged by several political leaders and organizations across the United States of America and other places who are familiar with the actual basis of the disagreement between himself and the organization that first published the article in question.
“One would have therefore expected a good journalist to have undertaken a comprehensive research and investigation on the contradictions raised in the said article before going to press. Such an investigation would have required the said journalists to contact me as the primary subject of the article and other individuals who are unfairly attacked in the said article because of their organizational relationship with me,” Bah told the Independent Media Commission (IMC).
He alleged that because the newspaper chose to publish the article ignoring the fact that its contents are largely defamatory and slanderous not only against him but also against other individuals “who have nothing to do with the politics of Sierra Leone let alone a government for which Mr. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo – the proprietor of the said newspaper – is serving as a Minister of Information and Communication” constitute a plot initiated against his political image by the Minister who owns the newspaper.
“This couldn’t be unconnected to some plot initiated by Mr. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo to employ his newspaper and other media institutions in an attempt to deliberately smear my reputation and character in the face of my constant objective criticism of the failures of the APC government that he is serving,” he stated.
Bah says the journalists of the New Citizen have violated the media code of practice and other instruments governing the conduct and activities of journalists and the media in Sierra Leone.
“The New Citizen has failed to honour the ethics governing the profession of journalism,” he charged.
The NDA Spokesman requested that the Independent Media Commission (IMC) should ensure that an “unqualified apology be published by the newspaper to him and other individuals unfairly mentioned in the article.”
Although Sierra Leone’s Information Minster, Ibrahim Ben Kragbo has not responded to the accusations of the NDA Spokesman, an editorial in the New Citizen has stated that their action is not influenced by the Minister.
However, in a letter dated 16th July the IMC has informed Mr. Bah that the issues of his complaint have been noted by the Commission.
“You will soon be informed of the date the Complaint Committee will meet to hear your complaint,” Terrence Knox Goba, Acting Executive Secretary of the IMC wrote to Mr. Bah.
The article is a vexed response from a group in the United States against the African Socialist Movement (ASM) – headed by Chernoh Alpha M. Bah – which formed a coalition with the NDA a year ago in preparation for the country’s elections in November this year. Mr. Bah himself will be contesting for a parliamentary position in Makeni – the home of president Koroma who has been in power since 2007.
“The APC and president Koroma do not deserve a second term and they must be voted out of office,” Bah has said on many radio programs during the last one year.
(original article published: http://www.africanews.com/site/list_message/41558)