By Pormasu Takorfai…
It has finally been made known that Sierra Leone’s President, Dr Bai Ernest Koroma, “inevitably bowed down to International pressure for an unconditional release of the illegally-detained Journalist, Dr David Tam-Baryoh from the Pademba Road Maximum Prisons.
Mr David Tam-Baryoh’s release could not be disassociated from the British House of Commons’ condemnation of the draconian rule of President Koroma in silencing the media in Sierra Leone.
The House of Commons stood firm in saying; “ That this House condemns the jailing and beating of the campaigning radio journalist David Tam Baryoh in Sierra Leone, who criticised the Sierra Leonean government’s Ebola response; notes that the country’s state of emergency empowers President Ernest Bai Koroma to arrest any person without a court order and that Baryoh was arrested by an order signed by the President; further notes that Baryoh, who suffers from high blood pressure, is detained without charge in a hugely overcrowded jail; points out that around a third of the amount pledged by the EU to Sierra Leone to combat Ebola will come from the UK’s £205 million aid package; and urges the Government to use its considerable influence with Sierra Leone to free Baryoh so that he and other journalists are free to work and keep track of the hundreds of millions in aid pouring into a country which ranks near the top of global corruption Index”
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Reporters without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and other media rights groups like the Rightsway International added their voices that helped in the release of the said journalist.
A SLAJ committee which visited Dr David Tam Baryoh in prison , after having consulted with President Koroma at State House comprised Tam Baryoh’s lawyer Melron Nicol, journalists, Phillip Neville and Christo Johnson, and Memunatu Pratt, a peace studies lecturer at the University of Sierra Leone. It is alleged that the committee convinced Dr David Tam Baryoh in confessing to the unlawful allegations levied against him by the President and his so-called legal officials, in a bid to secure his immediate release from detention.
In another development, the independent human rights group – Rightsway International, strongly condemned President Koroma for allegedly dictating to the said Committee to obtain a signed confession from the journalist.
Elvis Kamara, Director of the Rightsway International said: “We are pleased by the Committee’s effort to secure the immediate release of Tam Baryoh, but we are very shocked and disappointed by the way his confession was obtained and published.”
“It should be noted that President Ernest Koroma was wrong to order the alleged unlawful detention of Tam-Baryoh. The President has flouted the country’s justice system by allegedly forcing the journalist into making false ‘confession’ publicly.
“The sole aim of this forced confession is to destroy the credibility of the journalist. This is a violation of the journalist’s human rights in order to canvass public opinion for political gains.
“The unethical act of publishing Tam-Baryoh’s forced confession can only be seen as an attempt by the authorities in Sierra Leone to incriminate the journalist, and negate international media reports and the widely held strong public opinion that Tam Baryoh was being unlawfully detained over criticisms of government handling of Ebola crisis,” says Elvis Kamara
In another development, the recently-concluded APC NAC meeting at the party’s Headquarters in Freetown is determined to eradicate the Vice President, Alhadji Samuel Sam-Sumana from the party’s top post. Reliable sources within the APC informed the VOB that the some committee are strongly planning to kick the VP out of the party. Messrs Yansaneh and Alpha Kanu are said to have opposed the decision which led to the calling off of the said plan.
However, the APC Youths Wing is behind the party’s executive Committee’s decision to remove the VP as a member of the APC party. Many are not pleased with his recent radio interview with Dr David Tam-Baryoh and his participation at the Kono Diaspora teleconference.
If the above allegations on the political survival of the VP turn out to be true, the APC will seriously loose its SUPPORT in Konoland. Many Konos and friends of the Kono people are accusing the President of The Republic for the creation of ethnic tensions within and out of Konoland.