SLAJ on 3rd December, 2014 was copied a letter written by the Secretary to the President informing Ambassador Alieu Kanu that it has pleased His Excellency to appoint him as Chairman of the IMC.
SLAJ argues that it was never consulted or engaged on this appointment, nor consulted on other appointments to the Commission. SLAJ views this action as not only a violation of the provisions of the Act but also a dangerous deviation from the precedent set by previous administrations which may lead to future abuses of the Commission by succeeding governments.
While Section 53(3) of the 1991 Constitution stipulates that we cannot challenge whether the President acted on our advice, in a court of law, yet that does not make the action right or correct.
SLAJ did make strenuous efforts through letters, phone calls and other interventions, in a bid to meet and discuss this issue to arrive at an amicable outcome, but all doors were firmly closed.
“It is regrettable that the government seems to be deliberately acting in a manner to push SLAJ into taking actions that would bring it into conflict, which would lead to negative consequences,” said SLAJ President Kelvin Lewis.
In another development, SLAJ also views with deep concern reports of widespread corruption in the handling of Ebola funds. We are particularly concerned about the disclosure of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Ebola Response Center (NERC), Rtd. Major Alfred Palo Conteh, that some 6,000 ghost names have been discovered in the weekly payment voucher for health workers in the frontline of the Ebola fight.
“SLAJ is worried that the spate of corruption has led to intermittent strikes by health care givers; a situation which is negatively impacting on the fight against Ebola. Therefore, SLAJ will no longer continue to gloss over corrupt practices, especially as they have the propensity to derail the gains we as a country are making to stem the further spread of the virus,” stated SLAJ.
“As journalists, we are going back to our watchdog role of unearthing corruption wherever it is practiced,” said president Kelvin Lewis, adding, “this does not mean we are going to abandon our role of educating and sensitizing Sierra Leoneans about the Ebola disease, but we believe this action will ensure monies meant to fight the spread of the virus are used judiciously and for the intended purpose. This, though, is going to be done within the Media Code of Practice.”