District officer storms radio station studio, assaults presenters during live programme

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) condemns the attack on journalists of Global FM while they were live on air, and demand appropriate sanctions against the perpetrator.

Alpha Saliou Barry, a local councillor, in charge of the living conditions and sanitation commission of the District of Mamou located about 285 km north of Conakry, carried the brazen attack on August 12, 2021. The District’s director of youth affairs was the guest on the prime-time show called “choc des idées” which focused that particular day’s edition on the sanitary situation in the District. The director was at the studio to promote a sanitation programme initiated by the local authorities to mobilise young people into cleaning up the town every Saturday. One of the journalists hosting the programme said the town of Mamou is a mess and so the media will be closely monitoring the progress of the initiative.

Angered by what he considered as an indictment on his performance as the councillor in charge of sanitation, Alpha Saliou Barry rushed to the radio station, stormed the studio and assaulted the three presenters, amidst threats and insults.

The attack disrupted the live programme, while one of the assaulted journalists, Thierno Mamadou Sow, had his telephone damaged in the process.

“He burst into the studio and attacked the presenters. The technician was forced to shut the microphones because Alpha Saliou Barry had become angry. He was shouting and making threats in the studio. The telephone of a presenter was damaged during the altercation,” explained the station manager, Aboubacar Bangoura.

The radio station immediately filed a complaint at the Mamou central police station against Saliou Barry. He was interrogated based on the police report and referred to the public prosecutor. Barry was subsequently accused of “insult, threat and destruction of private property” and processed to appear before a judge at the Court of First Instance of Mamou on August 17.

The action of Councillor Barry was roundly condemned by Guinea’s media fraternity. The Guinea Press Professionals’ Union (SPPG) issued a statement on August 13 condemning the act of the councillor.

“The aggressor, whose behaviour does not befit that of a municipal executive, strangely stormed the studio while our colleagues (a technician and three journalists accompanied by the guest of the day) were on air. In addition to the indignity of his entry, which caused panic in the studio, he also committed other acts of barbarism (insults, shouting and attempted blows), not to mention a damaged phone,” said the union, in a statement.

Another statement came from the Union of Independent Radio and Television Stations in Guinea, URTELGUI, also on August 13.

“The Union of independent radio and television stations of Guinea (URTELGUI) readily supports the legal proceedings already initiated against the aggressor, with the aim of a legal sanction, likely to dissuade other ill-intentioned people”, the Union said in a statement signed by its president.

According to the latest information, the Management of Global FM has withdrawn the case from the court for amicable settlement. This followed a written apology from the Mayor of Mamou Elhadj Amadou Tidiane Diallo, on behalf of Councilor Barry.

The station made this known in a letter to URTELGUI dated August 16. They cited “interventions by social, religious and administrative actors in Mamou” for its decision to seek an amicable settlement of the issue.

The MFWA welcomes the apology from the Mayor over the attack on the radio station by Councilor Barry. We are however insisting that the District Administration must sanction its errant officer to deter would-be violators of press freedom. We also caution that compromises with journalists’ abusers encourage would-be perpetrators while discouraging solidarity initiatives and anti-impunity campaigners.

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