Last week, President Bio announced commissioners of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) which did not go down well with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) because their list of nominees was not endorsed by the President hook, line and sinker.
The President seemed to have done some adjustment to the list SLAJ submitted to him which is against the IMC Act of 2000 as amended in which section 4 subsection 1 states “ the commission shall consists of a Chairman and ten other members all of whom shall be appointed by the President acting on the advice of SLAJ.”
Truth be told, if the President made adjustments to the list SLAJ submitted to him, then the President did so in contravention of the IMC Act of 2000 as amended because he is supposed to be acting on the advice of SLAJ in this situation.
Again, the President by the 1991 constitution has the power to make any such appointment and he is not bound to listen to any advice from anyone or institution.
But where was SLAJ as one of the civil society bodies when President Bio was making unprocedural sacking- the then ACC Boss and the then Ombudsman.
Where was SLAJ when the President appointed the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation Boss without the recommendation of the Board as the SLBC Act dictates?
They were very silent and now that some people in SLAJ are not happy, they want to raise hell or because they did not get what they want, they want to make the noise now.
This is not the first time SLAJ is jostling with government over the appointment of IMC commissioners because they are not consulted.
When Umaru Fofana was the President of SLAJ, he had issues with the way and manner President Koroma appointed Rod Mac Johnson as the then Chairman of the IMC.
Kelvin Lewis who is the President of SLAJ had issues with the way and manner in which President Koroma appointed Williette James and other commissioners of the IMC.
He went as far as writing a letter to Parliament, informing them that Williette James was wrongly appointed and Parliament failed to endorse Williette James on the pretext of that letter from SLAJ- the replacement of Williette James was also not approved by SLAJ.
What makes the case of George Khoryama different is the fact that Khoryama was in the nominated list of SLAJ to be the Print Media in the commission but not to be Chairperson of the Commission.
SLAJ’s choice of Chairperson was Francis Sowa who is now SLAJ’s representative in the Commission because it did not please the President to make him chair.
As such, SLAJ is very angry that someone they nominated to be commissioner has been catapulted to the position of Chair of the Commission and they came out with a press release referring to someone they nominated as commissioner for an independent body as partisan.
“SLAJ is concerned that the President has gone ahead to propose a Chairman of the IMC, despite the fact that SLAJ had pointed out that the individual is publicly perceived as a partisan party supporter. This will undermine the credibility, impartiality and integrity of the Commission and will undermine the confidence of the public and many journalists in dealing with the Commission,” SLAJ states in their Press Release.
The above statement of SLAJ will be seen as double-standard. Why did SLAJ in the first place nominate someone whom they deemed partisan to be part of an independent commission?
SLAJ should tell Sierra Leone between Ansu Lansanna, a nominee in SLAJ list to represent the legal section, who had contested an election for the SLPP and George Khoryama who has never been involved in active politics who is partisan.
Why didn’t SLAJ do due-diligence before putting Khoryama’ name on the list?
Did SLAJ think about its image before coming out with such statement or Khoryama’s partisan nature is only considered because he has been made a chairman as against SLAJ’s choice?
If that is the case, then SLAJ will be seen as very disingenuous to say the least.
I worked briefly with Khoryama as consultant Editor at News Watch where he was the Consultant Managing Editor until his appointment.
Khoryama exhibited a lot of professionalism and passion for journalism and helped me in doing my craft with some professional panel-beating.
SLAJ should stop crying because in the first place they nominated a “partisan’’ to be in the commission but ended up as chair.