The Sierra Leone tabloid, INDEPENDENT OBSERVER , has been suspended by the Independent Media Commission ( IMC ) for failing to pay the hefty fine levied on it for defaming Sierra Leone’s Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Nations , Rev. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, and former Special Executive Assistant to the President, Dr. Sylvia Blyden . After being found guilty of lying on the two personalities, the paper was also ordered to apologize to the Reverend and Dr. Blyden three times on three different days and retracting their false story. Also suspended is the PRIME TIMES Newspaper.
It is believed that further punitive action will follow if the papers refuse to comply with the action, including sealing of their offices, banning the papers and revoking their licences . Criminal libel actions against the papers’ Editors may also be instituted. It is learnt that the Sierra Leone Police has already been informed about the action against the papers.
The no-nonsense Commissioners of the IMC are said to have decided to take this hard line against the papers because of the gravity of their offences–Concocting lies about two innocent citizens and to also send a strong message that the days of gutter journalism are over in Sierra Leone.
Many Sierra Leoneans have applauded the actions against the two newspapers , asserting that examples have to be set on errant people who feel that they can use the print or online media to damage the names of innocent people for personal reasons and partisan politics.