Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 August 2018
There are some people in Sierra Leone today – especially opinion formers that are not lieutenants of the ruling APC party, fifth columnists, or Gestapo sycophants, who sadly have become labelled as enemies of state and subject to constant and persistent political harassment.
They are forever in the bad books of State House and those appointed as the unofficial eyes and ears of government – the hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil rotten lot, for a few crumbs of ill-gotten wealth that comes their way.
And It is now obviously clear that Dr. David Tam Baryoh – editor of the independent Citizen FM and presenter of the popular Monologue radio broadcast programme in Sierra Leone, has in the last three years at least – since the government won the 2012 elections, branded an enemy of state.
Two days ago, the country’s so called Independent Media Commission (IMC) – a group of presidential ego massagers, took another retrogressive step by shutting down the Monologue programme, accusing the presenter – David Tam Bayoh, of infringing national peace and state security, whatever that means.
The IMC is also accusing Tam Baryoh of inciting public violence and disorder.
But it is understood that the decision to shut down the radio programme was made by the IMC upon the advice of the powers from above – State House and the minister of information and communication – Alpha Kanu. (Photo below: The politically pliable IMC chairman Alieu Kanu).
Tam Baryoh’s crime? A source close to David Tam Baryoh told the Sierra Leone Telegraph:
“A citizen asked him whether it was possible for Sierra Leoneans to know if all the 100 buses bought from China are in the country. That was the question Tam Baryoh repeated on the Monologue program. Minister Logus Balogun Koroma got angry and reported Tam Baryoh to the IMC.
“The IMC then sent Tam Baryoh a letter of the minister’s complaint. They went for hearing on Tuesday, August 25th. Without any judgment, the IMC sent Tam Baryoh a letter on August 26th, suspending the program. That’s all. Tam Baryoh’s lawyers are actively fighting the illegality of the IMC’s actions.”
Sierra Leone’s IMC is anything but independent. It is an appendage and apparatus of State House, used for the purpose of policing those in the media that stand up against government excesses, corruption and impunity.
Tam Baryoh’s previous brush with the so called media laws was just a few months ago, after speaking live on his radio with the unconstitutionally sacked vice president Sam Sumana.
He was accused then, of inciting civil disturbance and provoking ill-feelings against the Koroma government.
And in November 2014, David Tam Baryoh was arrested and incarcerated in jail for over a week, for criticising the president’s poor handling of the Ebola crisis, and his intention to illegally amend the country’s Constitution to stay in power beyond the required two terms.
But police said that the journalist was arrested “for preaching tribalism, hatred and division in the country”.
British parliament saw it differently. This is the full text of the British parliament’s scathing attack on president Koroma’s dictatorial approach published last November:
“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 indexes.”
When David Tam Baryoh was released from custody, the Sierra Leone Telegraph said that the journalist had been released from jail, but will never be free, as long as his freedom of conscience and his liberty to express his opinions are being kept in chains by president Koroma’s government. (Photo below: Tam Baryoh – second from left, released from jail last November).
As Tam Baryoh’s Monologue programme today remains off air, this is the statement published by the not so independent media commission: