The social media is awash with news that the former Communications Manager at State House, Journalist Jarrah Kawusu-Konte , has been asked by the authorities to report to the CID tomorrow morning.
According to news making the rounds , the Police are inviting Mr. Kawusu-Conteh in connection with an alleged article he wrote on the recent fracas over the issue of the implementation and non-implementation of the Finance Acts of 2016, 2017 and 2018 , which led to the dismissal of the Secretary to the President, Dr. Dennis Vandi.
The new SLPP Government has not made any public statement to confirm or refute the news. We at COCORIOKO think that the Government cannot afford to be silent over any matter dealing with the fundamental human rights, welfare and liberty of a citizen or foreign resident of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
The government of President Maada Bio has also been silent on the post-elections violence that swept the country with its attendant killings of innocent people, burning of houses of private citizens and opposition APC party offices, destruction of the livelihoods of hundreds of innocent women traders and molestation , intimidation and beatings of political opponents.
The Government’s silence is augmented by the ‘tight -lips’ policy Sierra Leone’s civil society groups and sections of the media headed by fanatics of the new government have adopted since Brig. Maada Bio was controversially declared winner of the 2018 Presidential Elections. There is no doubt that our country is heading in a dangerous direction.
While awaiting the government to officially declare Mr. Kawusu-Konte a wanted man because of the allegations about the alleged article , we want to remind the government about its obligations to maintain the rich tradition of press freedom and respect for the fundamental rights of citizens it inherited from the APC Government.
Yes, the APC Government , despite its very impressive press freedom and human rights record, did make the same mistake on few occasions when authorities invited journalists to the CID for questioning over the exercise of their fundamental right to criticize the government . As stated yesterday, COCORIOKO will be very objective and it will be constructive in its criticisms of this government. But though the APC too did commit the same errors on a few occasions , the new SLPP Government cannot use that as a justification to do the same thing. Two wrongs do not make a right. We have to move this nation forward. The politics of REVENGE and repeating and justifying any mistake of a previous government on the grounds that “We were not the first to do it” are wrong and should not take hold in the country.
The freedom to write or speak out against government by citizens is a right enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone and cannot be denied by any government, whether APC, SLPP , AFRC or NPRC or What-have-you.
It must be emphasized however that though the APC invited few journalists for questioning, it has a record of being the only government that never charged and imprisoned any journalist in Sierra Leone since Independence. We hope the SLPP will do the same.
We hope that Mr. Kawusu-Konte’s fundamental and constitutional rights as a human being and a citizen of this blessed land will not be abridged by this government .
We will vehemently oppose any action by the government to undermine the magnificent tradition of Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Expression it met in place in Sierra Leone when it took over on March 27.