Does the BBC Screen the reporters they hire in Sierra Leone ? Part 5 : How one booze-addicted reporter helped the cause of the rebels and deliberately endangered the lives of people

CULLED FROM THE NEW DAILY NATION : By Solomon Sesay , Editor of the New Daily Nation : The British Broadcasting Service (BBC ) is highly depended on to provide accurate news information to the world as perhaps the biggest news organization reporting from within Africa.People all over the world depend on the BBC for accurate information about Africa.  It is therefore worrisome that some of the journalists that string for the BBC from Sierra Leone leave very much to be desired. The BBC has produced excellent reporters from Africa who were the envy of journalism professionals . Some  examples I can give are Hilton Fyle ,Winston Ojukutu-Macauley and Sylvester Rogers . However, because of their failure to screen some of the journalists they hire in Sierra Leone, the BBC has used some reporters who brought the institution to disrepute.  Some of the reporters they have used in Sierra Leone are a disgrace to the famous and respected institution. Today, I will continue  my series by looking at one of these BBC reporters–Mr.Victor Sylver , who is the worst example of a journalist from Sierra Leone. VICTOR SYLVER : THE DESPICABLE FACE OF A DRUNKARD AND A WIFE-BEATER I have produced complaints by peers of Mr.Sylver like Mr. Sullay Adekunle, Dr. Ibrahim Seaga-Shaw, Gibril Koroma, Kanji Daramy etc. who have insinuated that the BBC made a big mistake to hire Victor Sylver .Their reason is that Sylver is a disgrace to journalism since he has no professional ethics and he was guilty of filing fictitious reports and blatant lies from Sierra Leone. During the  most difficult time in Sierra Leone’s history–the  unprofessionalism journalism,  lies and deliberately false reporting  by BBC reporters  impacted on the war and  did not only help the cause of the rebels but endangered the lives of Sierra Leoneans.  We will listen to the complaints of the then Minister of Information, Dr. Julius Spencer . Spencer was talking about the menace of these BBC reporters in Sierra Leone ;  ”As far as I know, there are two issues involved,” Spencer told the BBC. “First of all, the accuracy of the reports; secondly, whether it had been cleared with the security forces or myself. Now, if either of those two had not happened, then there’s a problem because, I think, the journalists have been warned enough that we are in a war situation, and that we have pointed it out very clearly. And what has been happening recently, is that people file reports which are inaccurate, which not only create panic, but also in turn will demoralise our own forces. In addition to that, they fuel the crisis. Because there are times when the rebels–in fact even now–they cannot quite communicate with each other. They are broken up into groups. But then some report is put out about some attack somewhere, and about the type of atrocities that have been committed — we think quite a lot of the time it’s not true. And some other group hears it and says, ‘Oh, well let us do the same type of thing’. So that is the problem we’ve been having. There are restrictions placed on reporting in a war situation.” In response to a question as to whether the journalists’ arrest might demoralise people, or give the wrong impression, he replied: “No it doesn’t. Talk to ordinary Sierra Leoneans and find out what they think about the types of reports that are going out. In fact most people are very angry at the types of reports going out, particularly when some people know what is really happening.” No BBC reporter was guilty of this unprofessional and false reporting like Victor Sylver .  Gibril Koroma, a newspaper editor in Canada, explains :  Sylver “ got into real trouble when he deliberately falsified a story on the ECOMOG bombing of the Mabayla slum in central Freetown. At that time everybody was glued to a radio and the slum dwellers heard Victor’s report while their loved ones laid in pools of blood. With a loud cry of rage they went on the streets with stones and sticks looking for him. “   These were some of the professional atrocities committed in Sierra Leone by a BBC Reporter , which is why the broadcasting institution should have been very careful with their recruitment policies in Sierra Leone. Victor Sylver committed these professional atrocities at a time when Sierra Leone needed professional reporting to the world. Through his lies and concoction , he aided and abetted with the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF ) which was guilty of amputating the limbs of young children and women and men. Therefore when people now see Victor Sylver pretending to be a human rights activist, his hypocrisy  riles them more Dr. Shaw takes up the story :  . …. I remember publishing a letter from one frustrated civilian whose relative was among those killed by the Nigerian bombs. The reader merely vented his anger at Victor in the letter….…The truth of the matter is when Seaga Shaw and his colleagues were busy exposing the atrocities committed by both the junta rebels and the Nigerian led ECOMOG troops, as well as pro-Kabbah militias, Victor Sylver was telling the world in his despatches to the BBC Focus on Africa that all the atrocities against innocent civilians in Sierra Leone during the period under review were committed by the rebel junta soldiers. For Victor Silver, the atrocities committed by ECOMOG troops against civilians in broad daylight were not human right abuses because they sought to restore the so-called democratically elected government….Victor was among those few journalists who helped the western media to misinform the world that all the atrocities committed in Sierra Leone were the handiwork of rebels. Thanks to the Sorious Samoura CRY FREETOWN award winning footage, which at least helped to change that perception a little by telling the world that, after all, both sides of the conflict committed violations. At least it’s on record that a journalist was shot to death in broad aye light by an ECOMOG soldier acting under the advice of a local militia was merely trying to settle old scores with the journalist   Unlike the impression he wants to create about himself, Victor Sylver worked closely with the RUF Rebels. His lies and concocted news reports gave the rebels undue advantage in the bloody war. One wonders why the BBC were unable to know that their own reporter Victor Sylver had himself inadvertently joined the rebel forces because he was providing them advantage they were using to hurt Sierra Leoneans. Victor Sylver ‘s employers at the BBC would be interested in knowing the real reason why he fled Sierra Leone. May be, that will help them in future to make sure that they recruit the best minds and professional reporters. This was the real reason that Victor Sylver fled Sierra Leone :    I thought Victor could have been bold enough to include in his letter what finally forced him into exile during the AFRC junta rule. I’m sure he would not want the Freedom Forum and others to know that he was hounded by angry civilians who felt betrayed and frustrated over his report to the world that some 20 coffins, containing people (including their relatives) killed by missiles thrown from ECOMOG’s base in Lungi and displayed at the National Stadium, had no corpses in them but stones. Those civilians would find it difficult to forgive Victor Sylver for been so heartless as to allow his sentiments to come into naked play into his career as a journalist whose duty it’s to tell it as it is and not as he wants it even when it’s a big terrible lie….. ( Dr.Shaw ). This was how callous and wicked Victor Sylver was to the victims of the war in Sierra Leone.  He has no human compassion  or human decency . It should therefore not be surprising that Victor Sylver has become a celebrated wife-beating drunk in London. Neighbours and Sierra Leonean residents in London have been presiding over the steady further deterioration of a self-seeking and avarious man who now has no friend or relative. Even his inlaws despice him because of his drunken stupor daily, his neglect of his  marital home and his abusive conduct to his wife, a very good woman from a very good home ,who finds herself in these straits today because she fell in love with a man who is a monster. Victor accuses my newspaper of Kongosah reporting when I expose his shameful excessive drinking and diamba-smoking as well as his beating of his wife. But I do not consider that Kongosah. You want to sit in judgement of others , make sure that you are living right yourself. But you can’t be a deadbeat father, drunkard, diamba-smoker and wife-beater and you want to be judgemental of others. This is just to let readers know that Victor Sylver is not fit to sit in judgement of others. On Saturday night, we will bring you comments from Sierra Leoneans in London which will reinforce my point that the BBC made the worst mistake hiring a hoodlum like Victor Sylver and owe the Sierra Leonean people an apology.

Related Posts