Sierra Leone Update: Police hunt journalist in hiding

On March 7, 2015, a man believed to be a police officer stormed the premises of Citizen Radio in Koidu Town, Kono District, in eastern Sierra Leone, to arrest Tamba Fanday, the station manager who is currently in hiding.

In an interview with MFWA’s correspondent in Sierra Leone, Fanday said one of his staff, Abdul Karim Mansaray (commonly known as DJ Kemzo), had told him about the visit by the plainclothes police officer on March 7, 2015, to the station.

He said the man had asked about the cost of making a public notice announcement and the location of the station manager, Fanday.

DJ Kemzo said he had told the man that the station manager was unavailable at the moment, to which the man had responded that he will come back later because he wanted to discuss “vital issues with the station manager.”

He said the policeman’s identification card had fallen down during the discussion, which was when DJ Kemzo realised he was a policeman. The policeman immediately left after this.

Fanday went into hiding last month following a presidential detention order by Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma to arrest him and 33 persons.

Fanday said that since he left the station, the station eliminated its discussion programmes and only plays music out of fear of arrest.

“I am still in hiding because police officers are looking out to arrest and detain me,” Fanday told the correspondent. “I don’t trust anyone and that is why nobody knows my where about. Meanwhile, there have been no reactions from government since I issued a statement regarding my fear of unlawful arrest and detention.”

As watchdogs, journalists perform an invaluable function in promoting democracy and good governance, but they are unfortunately being forced into silence by the current climate in Sierra Leone. The MFWA calls upon the government and police of Sierra Leone to encourage press freedom by ceasing its reprisals against journalists, such as Fanday, raising awareness about governance issues.

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