By State House Communications Unit :
Freetown, 31st October 2013; President Ernest Bai Koroma has given assent to the Right to Access to Information Act, also known as the FOI Bill, following its successful passage into law by the House of Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Making a statement shortly after the signing ceremony, President Koroma said it was the second time he made it a public ceremony when assenting to a bill, recalling that the last time it was the Gender Act, which vividly represent government’s efforts in enhancing democracy and good governance in Sierra Leone.
President Koroma underscored the importance of the law, saying that it will enhance transparency and improve on the ministry’s records management, as it is not about journalists taking on public officials.
The Head of State recalled that when he was in opposition he made a promise that when elected as President he will ensure that the access to information bill becomes law, and it is now history, as he has given assent to the law.
He paid tribute to civil societies, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and Members of Parliament for their various contributions towards the passing of the bill into law, adding that by the passage of the bill into law, Sierra Leone is now among the global partnership of nations with this law in play.
Responding to questions from journalists at the signing ceremony, with regards his relationship with the Vice President Alhaji Chief Sam Sumana, his relations with the media, and that of his Special Executive Assistant, President Koroma said it is all about transparency and law, which he very much respects, pointing out that except the press has not done its research, “as relationships between me and members of my government are clearly defined in the constitution. Journalists are making speculations, and I will continue to delegate functions and responsibilities to my Vice President”, he said.
President Koroma emphasized that he is running a government that is focused on implementing the Agenda for Prosperity which the Vice President also subscribes to, adding that the relationship between them is going on very well.
On his Special Executive Assistant, President Koroma disclosed that Dr. Sylvia Blyden is a member of the media family which he will not interfere with.
“I will not stop her from exercising her rights. I have a wonderful relationship with the media”, he said and reiterated that a fine line should be drawn and that if anyone is aggrieved with her, they have the right to seek legal redress.
President Koroma said when he was the Managing Director of a private insurance company he used to socialize with members of the media and has even accommodated those who are not that friendly with him.
On the ongoing matter before the court, President Koroma noted that ordinary citizens who felt aggrieved about the offensive publication against him took legal action, adding that he is now contemplating on the next move.