Angry supporters of Sierra Leone’s opposition All People’s Congress (APC) on January 16, 2019 attacked reporters from the African Young Voices (AYV) media group and destroyed their equipment at former President Ernest Bai Koroma’s residence.
According to Amadu Kamara, the Regional Bureau Chief of AYV, a team of five reporters, including two female journalists, had gone to the former president’s residence to seek an interview with him. While the reporters were waiting for the interview, they decided to engage with a past executive member of the former president’s party (APC) on a number of issues. The APC party’s district deputy organising secretary, Alpha Apazo Bangura, however, asked them to leave, amidst accusations that the AYV network was aligned to the APC’s rivals, the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
The accusation reportedly incited the party supporters present who attacked the journalists, seized their cameras and phones, and destroyed their recorders. It took the intervention of a former senior government official and other APC members to rescue the reporters.
Meanwhile, the management of AYV has lodged a formal complaint at the Police. They have also threatened to boycott the APC party should such an incident be repeated.
The MFWA also condemns the assault on the journalists by political sympathisers and calls on the police to investigate the matter and bring the culprits to book. We also urge the APC to educate its sympathisers on the important role of the media and the need to protect journalists’ safety.