The media association of Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) that has been supporting ‘free speech’ and ‘democratic good governance’ for the past 40 years has taken an ill-fated U-turn.
Shockingly, the journalism association under the leadership of Kelvin Lewis supported the Parliament of Sierra Leone over the arrest of one Moisa Kekura, a journalist and Managing Editor of The Future Newspaper.
Moisa was recently arrested for writing a letter to the House of Parliament demanding for explanation as to how an allegedly cumulative 120 Billion Leones was expended by Parliamentarians.
Instead of Parliament answering the question of accountability, it resorted ordering the arrest of the editor, who later was released awaiting investigation by the Committee on Privilege of the house of Parliament.
Sadly, the Media Association body (SLAJ) afterwards came out with a release supporting the arrest of journalist Moisa on grounds that the tone of the letter written to Parliament was harsh.
The release written by the Secretary General of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla demanded that the journalist apologizes to Parliament.
“SLAJ views the letter dated 17 August 2016 and addressed to the Clerk of Parliament as RECKLESS and DISRESPECTFUL and reiterates that it does not and will not support such recklessness,” the SLAJ Press Release clearly states.
This, however, has dented the image of the journalism association as a right defender and an advocate for Press Freedom.
Some journalists have viewed the Press Release as a way of currying favour from politicians by SLAJ.
That SLAJ should not ‘scapegoatize’ the journalist in the perceived belief that they want politicians remove part 5 of the 1965 Pubic Order Act.
“SLAJ’s demand letter is written on the cleanest page of sycophancy and succeeds only in stocking the already overly self bloated ego of Parliament and its occupiers,” Sorie Sengbe Marrah stated on social media.
“While I think the tone of the Future Newspaper’s Letter to the Clerk of Parliament was overtly passionate and thinly scrutinized,
I don’t think it should amount to affront to persons who are deemed to be our servants except if they had morphed into demi-gods overnight while we all snored into veneration,” he continued.
Other senior Media Practitioners and Civil Society activists have said that it is a shame that SLAJ did not even condemn the order to arrest journalist Moisa by Parliament, rather focused on the tone of the letter.