The editor of Awareness Times newspaper, John Korama, was on September 29, 2018, assaulted by vigilantes of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in the full glare of the police and the Chairman of the SLPP, while the journalist was covering a bye-election at Mile-14 Town in Tonko Limba.
The thugs, who were intimidating voters as they arrived at the Saint Mary's Secondary School polling station, became suspicious of the journalist who was watching and secretly recording their acts of intimidation a few metres away.
Sensing danger, Koroma decided to get away, but it was too late as a couple of the thugs accosted him. The thugs reportedly rejected his claim to be a journalist and insisted that his accreditation was fake, amidst accusations by other members of the mob that his newspaper was anti-SLPP. Before Korama could utter a word to defend his news organization, he received a slap. Unfortunately, a police officer from whom the journalist sought refuge, rather ordered him to sit on the ground, an order the mob immediately enforced by pushing him down.
Reports say as the thugs slapped and kicked the journalist on the ground, the Chairman of the ruling party stood watching.
"During the time they were beating me up, I had covered my head to protect my skull bones. After I heard the voice of Mr. Umaru Fomba, the National Electoral Commission Returning Officer, telling them that I am a journalist. I lifted up my head and I saw to my utter shock, SLPP Chairman, Manso Dumbuya, had been there as the boys were beating me. He looked at me but did not say a single word," Koroma has narrated.
The MFWA condemns the brutal assault of John Korama and call on the police to investigate the matter. We are appalled at the apparent complicity of the police and of the SLPP Chairman, Manso Dumbuya, in the crime against a senior editor of a national newspaper. Consequently, we urge the SLPP party to condemn the incident and take action against the vigilantes and Dumbuya.