Popular Sierra Leonean investigative journalist Fayia Amara Fayia was mercilessly beaten by military personnel in Kenema today and is now on a wheelchair after his was released from a military detention custody late in the afternoon.
Fayia becomes the first victim of the mob justice last week prescribed by the First Lady, Mrs. Fatima Bio for people who criticize her husband, President Bio or engage in acts that jeopardize the lives of others during this coronavirus pandemic.
SLAJ Condemns Mob Beating of Journalist Fayia Amara Fayia by RSLAF
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) vehemently condemns the ‘merciless beating‘ of journalist Fayia Amara Fayia by a group of about nine military personnel allegedly led by one Major Fofanah in Kenema town this afternoon around 2pm.
The incident, according to his colleague journalists at the scene, took place at a potential quarantine venue at Dama Road, in the full view of the Commanding Officer of the RSLAF 2nd Battalion in Kenema, Major Kamanda, and the Kenema District Council Chairman, ‘Mohamed O’Level’ Sesay.
The journalists say, Faya (and his colleagues) was denied entry into the venue and so he decided to take photos with his phone from a distance when Major Fofanah stepped forward and grabbed the mobile device from him; and later called on his colleagues to beat the journalist.
SLAJ understands from its Regional Executive East that Fayia was initially denied access to medical help and was held in custody by the Kenema Police until the intervention of his colleagues who demanded the journalist be taken to the hospital.
“This is an unfortunate incident as it comes in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis when the role of journalists is pivotal to the national response effort. No matter the facts of the incident, I believe the military has no right to mob an unarmed journalist whose only crime may be over-zealousness in doing his work,” said SLAJ President, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla.
Meanwhile, Fayia is responding to treatment at the surgical ward of the Kenema Government Hospital.
SLAJ calls on journalists across the country to be very cautious and self-protective during this crisis period, while we pursue the matter through our Regional Executive and see that the culprits are brought to book.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans should expect more of this. All over the world regimes become autocratic when they start realizing they no longer have the money to afford the basic public goods or to buy support.
Maada Bio will increasingly clamp down on voices that are raised against him. Everybody knows how fierce Faya has been speaking against Bio. Let the military know that they are paid from the hard sweats of ordinary Sierra Leoneans who pay taxes. Let them know no law gives the military power to use force unless someone is a threat to public safety and security or where the pesron is said to be using violence or had committed an act of violence and he/she is trying to escape.
There is a reason why Sierra Leone has courts. The military are not judges, the law does not give them authority to dispense justice and punish offenders. I love the military and it is my goal to have the best military in Africa. Our military can not be the best if they cannot assure the safety of every Sierra Leonean, including Faya. Our economy is in shambles and until I fix that economy our military will continue to be underfunded. Maada Bio had to ask the Chinese to build military housing for our soldiers. Why would any military beat a fellow citizen for a Maada Bio who cannot provide them good housing and sufficient pay?