Four Freetown-based independent newspaper journalists were arrested and detained by the police on the orders of Allieu Pat Sowe, the country’s Minister of Lands.
The journalists, Abdul Rahman Kamara, Razrok Wurie, Sheik Unisa Thoronka and Alfred Koroma of Torchlight, Satellite, Global Times and African Champion, respectively, were later released and were on police enquiry bail.
The journalists had gone to the ministry to investigate alleged fraud allegations contained in an audit report about the ministry but when the minister saw the documents, he accused them of “illegally possessing a classified document.”
Three of the journalists, Wurie, Thoronka and Korama were released “temporary” after spending about five hours in police custody, but were re-arrested. All the four were released later at about 20hours GMT upon the intervention of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ).
“SLAJ categorically condemns this act of a minister ordering the arrest of journalists who are investigating an issue of national importance and public interest”, says SLAJ President Umaru Fofana. He urged the police not to undermine the investigation by the journalists into the apparent disappearance of tens of thousands of US dollars of the ICF funds to the lands ministry as contained in the said audit report”.