two prominent names have topped the chart to lead Sierra Leone’s Independent Media Commission (IMC) since its dissolution a month ago.
The IMC was set up in 2000 by a Parliamentary Act and its role is to promote a vibrant, independent media landscape. It can also sanction cases of abuse and in some cases impose fines and even revoke licenses.
Authentic source from State House has confirmed to Global Africa News that President Julius Maada Bio will today announce either renowned veteran Journalist, George Koryama or Mass Communication lecturer, Francis Sowa.
Sowa was appointed one of the Commissioners of the IMC by former President Ernest Bai Koroma whilst Koryama is the current Consultant Editor of News Watch Newspaper.
As a Commissioner then, Sowa was one of the Complaint Committee members under the handpicked APC Chairman, Amb. Allieu Kanu. The institution later became a vibrant mouth piece of the then ruling APC.
SLAJ is clamouring for a professional to head the IMC and give the institution a facelift from its usual decimated doldrums.
Moses Kargbo, SLAJ’s former Secretary General submitted that, “…I disagree with you on your assessment of Mr. Khoryama’s suitability for the IMC post. If you want to premise your argument on he being a political journalist, then tell me whoever that has been appointed that is not connected to, or sympathetic with, a political party.”
The former Editor of Concord Times noted that, “At times you need people that are passionate about the success of a particular regime to occupy certain offices that are key to the government. What we should be concerned with is his professional competence and capacity to handle the job.”
He went on to argue that, “one thing I like about him (Koryama) is his thoroughness, which is needed at the IMC. For that, he has my vote!”
Part II Section 4 (1) of the IMC Act states that, “The Commission shall consist of a Chairman and ten other members all of whom shall be appointed by the President acting on the advice of SLAJ and subject to the approval of Parliament.”
The Act went further to state that,
“(2) The Chairman shall serve on a full time basis and shall either be a person with wide range experience as a media practioner or a legal practitioner qualified to hold office as a Judge of the High Court of S/Leone and the other members who shall serve on part-time basis, comprising:
(a) two legal practitioners each of whom is qualified to hold office as a Judge of the High Court of S/Leone.
(b) two experts in the field of telecommunications
(c) two experts in the field of radio or television
(d) two experts in the field of print journalism
(e) a representative of the Minister responsible for information who shall be an ex-officio member and
(f) a representative of SLAJ who shall be an ex-officio member.”
On the contrary however, Chapter V (The Executive), Part II Section 3 of the Sierra Leone Constitution, Act No. 6 states that, “where by this Constitution or under any other law the President is to act in accordance with the advice of any person or authority, the question whether he has in any case received or acted in accordance with such advice shall not be inquired into in any Court.”
This in essence means, if President Bio ignores the entrenched clause in the IMC Act, it is still lawful by this Constitutional provision. The President had promised to work with SLAJ and vowed to provide subvention to the Association. This is to make SLAJ more effective and efficient.
SLAJ’s leadership is only calling on President Bio to appoint a Journalist with no mean repute to sanitize the polarised media industry.
Both candidates are members of SLAJ, but what is worrisome is the political twist as some former APC stalwarts are reportedly pushing a candidate of their own.
A dastardly underground campaign was launched, Global Africa News can confirm.
SLAJ executive members are steadfast and urging President Bio to do the right appointment.
By Elkass Sannoh