Sierra Leone President’s bodyguards attack sports journalists

FRANCESS Barnard, Esther Marie Samura, the two female sports journalists from Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) and Alimmamy Kamara, a freelance reporter were assaulted, manhandled and abused by the close protection bodyguards of President Julius Maada Bio.

The journalists were covering the Sierra Leone vs Liberia 2022 FIFA World Cup African qualification game at the Siaka Stevens Stadium in Freetown, Sierra Leone on the weekend.

The bodyguards: Sweet and Kposowa aggressively attacked the two female sport commentators and the journalist: not only did the president’s security hit the commentators and take away the phone one of them was using to run her commentary, but additionally “Sweet” the bodyguard made threats to shoot and kill them with his pistol.

Two of the assaulted journalists were taken to hospital on Sunday night, and are still there.

This inhumane behaviour has been immediately denounced by the Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL), showing their support for the assaulted victims and condemning this barbaric, unjustified act against people working there by the President’s security personnel.

The SWASAL, in a statement, said it was saddened by the unfortunate behaviour put up by Sweet and Kposowa, close protection bodyguards to President Julius Maada Bio.

“These two bodyguards unvitedly and in a very aggressive manner, abused two SLBC female journalists by storming the commentary booth at the Siaka Stevens Stadium during the Leone Stars Vs Liberia return leg encounter.

“These guards, did not only beat up these journalists, but abused them and took away the phone one of them was using to run her commentary.

Both Francess Barnard and Esther Marie Samura of the SLBC were seriously beaten and manhandled including Alimmamy Kamara a freelance Sports Journalist.

“Esther Marie Samura’s cell phone was seized by one of the security guards in mufti while Alimamy Kamara also lost his phone,” the statement said.

“This is the very first time in the history of football in Sierra Leone to see security guards who have no business in the commentary booth behave in such a violent and rude manner without prior warning or any form of suspicious threat against public officials not alone the President.”

The Sports Writers Association has called on the office of the President to thoroughly investigate this act of violence and bring to book all those responsible for this barbaric act.

SWASAL assured its members that it would follow this case to the end while formal compliant will be made to our parent body SLAJ.

AIPS President Gianni Merlo has expressed his deep solidarity with the three colleagues who has been brutally assaulted, and invited the national association to take all the necessary action to defend the freedom and the independence of all our colleagues. – AIPS

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