IMG-20230616-WA0566

PREPAREDNESS OF THE SECURITY SECTOR FOR THE JUNE 2023 ELECTIONS AND CRITICAL ISSUES BEING DEALT WITH BEFORE AND AFTER THE ELECTIONS

 – A STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL SECURITY COORDINATOR, ABDULAI CAULKER, ON BEHALF OF THE SECURITY SECTOR, DATED FRIDAY, 16TH JUNE, 2023

  1. Members of the Fourth Estate, Elections observation Missions, Colleagues in the Security Sector, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon and welcome to this very important gathering,

 

2. Ladies and gentlemen, we are very close to the June 24 multi-tier elections, and so we have deemed it necessary to call this press conference.

 

  1. The statement, which I am going to make is on behalf of the security sector, and it is in two parts. The first part is to give you an update on the state of preparedness of the security sector for the upcoming elections in terms of our professional readiness to deliver security. The second part will highlight some of the critical issues we are paying special attention to as a sector during this election and after, and the unfair condemnation of the security sector.

Let me start with the first – our level of preparedness:

 

  1. The Security Sector has the constitutional responsibility to ensure the peace and security of Sierra Leone and to protect lives and property. An adjunct to this strategic responsibility is to provide the conducive environment for the holding of democratic elections. This is a responsibility that the sector has always carried out with professionalism and immense success, leading to the peaceful conduct of four democratic elections in the country between 2002 and 2018, accompanied by a smooth and peaceful transfer of political power. And so, the Saturday 24th June 2023 elections will not be radically different from previous general elections, and we will not reinvent the will.

 

  1. In line with our mandate, we have undertaken a number of activities in order to get ourselves adequately prepared for the June 24th 2023 elections, and I feel       delighted to outline the following:

 

  1. We have reactivated the Integrated Election Security Planning Committee (IESPC) to ensure focused coordination of the efforts of Elections Management Bodies (EMBs), support security sector planning and actions through the development of appropriate strategies, and mobilize requisite funding support for the Security Sector to cover the elections.
  2. About one and a half years ago, we conducted a National Threat Assessment/District Risk Mapping leading to the development of three strategic documents pertinent to the effective and efficient management of the elections. These include Elections Security Strategy, Elections Communications Strategy and Elections Training Manual, all of which are now being implemented.

 

iii.            In respect of the elections training manual in particular, which deals with election security ethical issues such as professionalism, impartiality, adherence to the rule of law and human rights principles, etc. for senior security personnel, a Training of Trainers (ToTs) roundtables were held all over the country. These in turn were replicated to hundreds of junior security personnel that are participating in the elections.

 

  1. We have also reactivated the National Situation Room (NSR) to support the Security Sector Early Warning and Early Response Mechanism relating to the electoral process and related national security issues. The NSR has a Toll-Free Line of 119 accessible by all mobile networks in the country, and the public can call this number to report any election security-related concerns.

 

  1. The National Joint Operation Centre (NJOC), the Incident Command Centres (ICCs) and the Forward Control Points (FCPs) have all been reactivated to plan, coordinate and execute elections security operations both at the national and regional levels of the country.

 

  1. We recognize that election is a civil process, and so it is not our plan to over-securitize it. As a result, security for the elections will be predominantly provided by the SLP supported by other auxiliary forces. However, the RSLAF is supporting the SLP under the Military Aid to Civil Power (MACP) policy.

 

  1. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, members of the Fourth Estate, you can now see that the Security Sector is adequately prepared to provide security for the upcoming elections. The public should rest assured that the Security Sector will remain professional and impartial in the execution of its duties and every political party will be treated fairly in line with our respective mandates and codes of conduct.

 

 

  1. Let me now turn to the second part of my statement – that is critical issues we are paying attention to and the unfair criticisms levied against members of the security sector.

 

  1. The first is Social Media which has become one of the greatest threats to our national security today. There is no denying the fact that social media platforms have been largely misused to circulate misinformation, lies, tribal bigotry, hate speech, invectives and all manner of incendiary messages, especially WhatsApp. Divisive and ethnic messages expressed through social media have proved very unhelpful for national unity ad cohesion.

 

  1. The second threat is lawlessness and indiscipline. These are mainly exhibited by acts of disobedience to the laws of the land and state institutions, wanton violence, drug peddling and abuse and other forms of criminality.

 

  1. Another key threat is political intolerance which has led to unnecessary tension in the country undermining national security and the integrity of the elections. The assessment indicates that most of the violent confrontations between political party supporters stem from their inability to accommodate one another.

 

  1. I wish to conclude my statement by expressing our concern about the disturbing assertion by some members of the public and political parties that some security sector member institutions are biased, impartial and vindictive in the discharge of their functions. Whilst such assertions could be said to be based on perception and figments of the imagination, they can be demotivating to sincere and hardworking members of the security sector. I would like to clearly state that the operations of the security sector are guided by prudence, integrity and professionalism. The security sector is not a political party and has always tried to remain neutral, and not to be influenced by external factors to make it act outside the law. Groupings that are infested by lawbreakers and members who ordinarily want to take the law into their own hands have always been subjects of arrest, detention and prosecution by law enforcement agencies.

 

  1. Whilst we pledge to remain apolitical and professional, we will be emphatic that as a Sector, we will not sit by and allow miscreants to subvert either our democracy or the state. We are poised to hunt them and impel them. Just recently, our security architecture uncovered the activities of some groups with the aim of undermining national security. Some of their members have been arrested, and the security sector will continue to effect arrests.

 

  1. Let me end by encouraging you all to support the work of the Security Sector and the EMBs so that we will deliver on our respective mandates to get a peaceful and credible electoral outcome on 24th June 2023. That way, we would have once more vindicated Sierra Leone honourably for the fifth time in our democratic dispensation after the civil war. In all of this, the role of the Fourth Estate is crucial.

 

  1. To the Security Sector Family, I encourage all of us to remain strong and steadfast in protecting our country.

 

Thank you all and kindly let this message be circulated widely.

IMG_0388

SAVE THE CHILDREN, CFN AND SLAJ CALL FOR AN END TO THE ABUSE AND USE OF CHILDREN IN POLITICS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Freetown, Sierra Leone 15 June 2023 – Save the Children, in collaboration with the Children’s Forum Network and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, express deep concern over reports of children being exploited, abused and involved in political activities during the 2023 General Election Campaigns in Sierra Leone. We strongly condemn such actions and urge all political parties and candidates to immediately cease using children in political campaigns or for conveying political messages.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Sierra Leone is a signatory, provides a clear framework for the protection and well-being of children. Article 3 of the Convention emphasizes that the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration in all actions concerning them. Furthermore, Article 32 highlights the right of children to be protected from economic exploitation and any work that may interfere with their education, harm their health, or hinder their development.

The exploitation of children for political purposes not only violates their fundamental rights but also jeopardizes their well-being and future prospects. Children should never be used as pawns or instruments in political campaigns or activities. Such actions undermine their rights, expose them to potential harm, manipulation, and psychological distress.

In addition, we are deeply disappointed by recent developments that disrupted children’s education. It has come to our attention that the majority of over 220,000 pupils taking the West African Senior Secondary Education Examination (WASSCE), Primary and Secondary School children were either too scared to attend their exams or did not go to school Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th June 2023. This disruption to their education not only impacts their academic progress but also compromises their safety and mental well-being.

Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the Children, initiated this movement to advocate for and protect children who suffer the consequences of political instability. In situations where children are exploited for political gains, it is imperative to remind everyone of the urgent need to protect and prioritize the well-being of children.

Save the Children, Children’s Forum Network and Sierra Leone Association of Journalists call upon all political parties, candidates, and their supporters to uphold the principles enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We urge them to:

  • Immediately cease the use of children in political campaigns, protests, events, or
  • Ensure the protection of children from any form of exploitation, manipulation, or harm during the electoral
  • Raise awareness within respective party structures and among supporters about the importance of safeguarding children’s
  • Encourage the reporting of instances of child exploitation to the appropriate

We also appeal to the media, civil society organizations, and citizens to remain vigilant and report any instances of child exploitation or involvement in political activities to the nearest police station.

Together, we can create an environment where children are safe, nurtured, and free from political exploitation.

Save the Children, Children’s Forum Network, and Sierra Leone Association of Journalists remain committed to working towards a society that upholds and protects the rights of every child. We call on all stakeholders to join hands in ensuring that children are shielded from harm and that their rights are respected, both during and beyond the electoral process.

End

 

For media inquiries, please contact:

Ramatu Jalloh

Director, Advocacy and Communication Section Save the Children

 

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla President

Sierra Leone Association of Journalists

 

Mahmoud Barrie President

Children’s Forum Network

 

Note to Editors

Save the Children is a leading global humanitarian organization dedicated to improving the lives of children. They work to protect children from harm, provide access to quality education and healthcare, and ensure their voices are heard. Their mission is to create a world where every child has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) is a professional body representing journalists in Sierra Leone. It promotes press freedom, ethical journalism, and the rights of journalists. SLAJ strives to uphold high standards of reporting and advocates for the welfare and protection of journalists, fostering a vibrant media landscape in the country.

The Children’s Forum Network (CFN) is a platform for children to voice their opinions and participate in decision-making processes. CFN empowers children to advocate for their rights, promotes child participation, and works towards creating a society that values and prioritizes the well-being and development of children.

8yyi

Claim That a Girl was Beaten Because She Wore an APC T-Shirt is Misleading

By: Mabinty M Kamara

 

Claim

A girl was cruelly beaten up by her uncle because she wore an APC T-Shirt; the uncle wanted her to wear an SLPP T-Shirt instead.

Verdict: MISLEADING

Full Text

A video circulating on social media shows a girl who had been violently beaten by her uncle, allegedly because she was wearing an All Peoples Congress (APC) T-shirt in Mile-91. However, our fact-checking investigation reveals that the claim is misleading. The video was also shared on the Awareness Network blog

https://fb.watch/l9gWUbkskb/?mibextid=6aamW6

The accompanying text states,

“Sad moment for this boy [girl] living at Mile 91 APC severely dealt with[her for wearing an SLPP-T-Shirt] him to wear SLPP T-shirt. This is human rights violation? We’re calling on the government, the police, the human rights organizations and the Civil societies to take immediate action and put a stop to this nonsense.”

Methodology:

To verify this claim, our SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom fact-checkers reached out to the Sierra Leone Police and fellow journalists in Mile 19, Tonkolili District, Northern Sierra Leone. Chief Inspector Alhassan Kamara, the Line Manager attached to the Family Support Unit (FSU) at Mile 91, confirmed that they are indeed investigating a case involving the girl and her maternal grandfather, Mustapha.

According to their investigation, the girl went out on June 3rd, which coincided with the APC campaign date in the town, and didn’t return home until the next day, June 4th, 2023. Inspector Kamara stated that their investigation has not found any evidence suggesting political motivations behind the grandfather’s actions. The grandfather claimed that it was a disciplinary measure that had escalated beyond intended proportions. Importantly, the girl was wearing a plain red blouse with no political inscription, contrary to the claim that she was wearing an APC T-shirt.

Inspector Kamara emphasised that since the girl is underage and has no understanding of politics, they are treating the incident as a case of child cruelty and domestic violence.

“She was wearing a white and red blouse. She is an underage girl so we cannot attribute the incident to politics because she knows nothing about politics, so we are investigating child cruelty and domestic violence,” he said.

Conclusions:

There is no evidence to show that the abuse was politically motivated.
The child was not wearing an APC T-Shirt but a plain red blouse.
The grandfather actually assaulted the child.

Note: This fact-checked story is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens to have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!

election_sierra_leone

Misleading Claim- Ruling SLPP Restricts Opposition Party Access to Their Stronghold

By: Fatmata Grace Okekearu

Claim: The ruling party’s (PAOPA) manipulation in action. Depriving their opposition counterpart free access to their (the ruling party) stronghold

Full Text
A recent claim suggesting that the ruling party (PAOPA) manipulated the situation to restrict the opposition party’s (APC) access to the Bo Coronation Field lacks evidence, according to the fact-checking conducted by the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom.

The post/video in question was shared by Ibrahim Sorie (@Ibrahim33479601) on June 9, 2023, and has garnered 62 views. However, the claim made in the post does not hold up under scrutiny.

Verdict: Misleading 

Methodology

To verify the allegations, the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom team reached out to various individuals involved. Franklin O. Browney, the Secretary of the Bo District Football Association, clarified that the APC was not denied access to the field. He explained that the ruling party (SLPP) had already booked the field for three days, from June 7th to June 9th, 2023, and paid for the reservation. This information contradicts the claim under review.

Furthermore, Joseph Elongima Mbawa, the Deputy Regional Director of the Political Party Registration Commission (PPRC) in the Southern Region, investigated the matter after receiving a call from the APC chairlady. He discovered that the field is managed by the Bo District Football Association, and bookings are made on a first-come, first-serve basis. The APC party had booked the field three times but only utilized it once, failing to make the required two payments. In contrast, the SLPP had successfully made a booking for three days, which was duly communicated to the APC.

Alhaji Osman Mansaray, the police media spokesperson attached to the Bo West Police Division, confirmed that no formal complaint regarding the alleged deprivation had been received.

In conclusion

The claim lacks substance and is not backed up by any form of evidence

 

Note:  This fact-checked story is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens to have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jlljjj

Claim about EU distributing pens with hidden cameras is FALSE

By Mabinty Kamara

Claims: The European Union Election Observation Mission to Sierra Leone is distributing pens and other memorabilia with hidden cameras. The targets are chiefs, police and ECSL staff.

Verdict: FALSE

Methodology

A social media post which has been circulated on Whatsapp so many times is claiming that EU Election Observers are sharing pens with hidden cameras.

The full post has many more explanations stating that: “EU Observer team in our district gave out free pens and other memorabilia to ECO officials. These devices are questionable and must NOT be kept on them or in their homes or office. Please use your judgment and relay this alert in confidence. Their targets are ECSL, Party Executives, Media, Police Chiefs. They were in Pujehun and left for Kailahun dis morning. PLEASE DESTROY THOSE ITEMS.”

 There are at least three claims in the post

i) The EOM is giving out pens and other memorabilia;

ii) That the pens have hidden cameras embedded in them;

iii) That it is targeted at police chiefs, journalists, and party Executives.

To verify these claims, SLAJ/NDI super Newsroom fact-checkers contacted the European Union Election Observation Mission in Freetown.

The Deputy Chief Observer Inta Lase (cc’d), said that the EU is not distributing pens to the general public.

“Each EU observer prior to the deployment received a few pens for his/her own use – for taking notes during the meetings. If someone asks an EU Observer for a pen, she or he of course can give away a pen. EU is not distributing pens to the general public. During meetings with electoral stakeholders, EU EOM observers are handing out the mission’s fact sheet and press releases, offering more detailed information about the mission’s mandate and work,” she said.

She added that the pens given to their officials are standard blue pens with an EU EOM logo.

The team of fact-checkers also contacted stakeholders specifically in Pujehun and other parts of the South Eastern region but they all said they are neither aware of the distribution exercise, nor can they confirm that such memorabilia have hidden cameras.

Conclusion: False, EU-EOM is not distributing pens and other memorabilia to the public.

There is no proof that EU EOM pens have hidden cameras in them.

There is no proof to show that the pens have hidden cameras and that they are targeted at journalists, Police Chiefs, and Party executives.

 

 

Note:  This fact-checked story is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens to have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!

 

IMG_0314

Empowering Female Journalists: SLAJ Concludes Safety and Security Training Ahead of Elections

By: Christian Conteh

In preparation for the upcoming June 24 elections, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) successfully concluded a comprehensive training program on safety and security guidelines for female journalists.

The training, held on Friday, June 9, 2023, at the Civil Service Training College on Tower Hill in Freetown, drew participation from journalists representing various media institutions in Freetown.

Under the project titled: “Expanding the democratic space in Sierra Leone – Media capacity enhancement in promoting peaceful elections, women’s participation, public interest, and conflict mitigation in Sierra Leone’s June 24th, 2023 elections,”

supported by Irish Aid, SLAJ aims to strengthen media capacity and contribute to the holding of credible, inclusive, and peaceful elections in Sierra Leone.

Speaking at the opening session, Mohamed Konneh, the Financial Secretary of SLAJ, emphasised the project’s significance. He highlighted the European Union Election Observation Mission’s recommendations from 2018, which mentioned the need to strengthen media independence, impartiality, and professionalism in reporting on elections.

Drawing strength from these recommendations, SLAJ and its partners, including IRN, IMC, and the Inter-Religious Council, are determined to ensure a violence-free election in 2023. Recognising the crucial role of a free and independent media, SLAJ believes that it informs and mobilizes citizens, facilitates meaningful debates, and holds duty-bearers accountable for the betterment of democracy.

The project’s broader commitment is to enhance citizens’ participation in democratic processes and institutions, particularly during a time of increased tensions influenced by hate speech, fake news, and misinformation, primarily spread through social media. In this context, the media and faith-based organisations like the Inter-Religious Council play a critical role in promoting peace, understanding, and responsible journalism.

“The training on Safety and Security Guidelines for female journalists will be rolled out to benefit a total of 250 female Journalists from across the country. These training are being conducted in all five regions, specifically targeting the respective districts in the regions. Training will cover basic safety and security tips that are essential for the protection of female Journalists,” Konneh said.

Women journalists often encounter gender-specific safety risks, including sexual harassment, sexual violence, and threats of violence. To mitigate these risks, experts like Umaru Fofana, BBC Stringer and Former President of SLAJ, highlighted the importance of journalists’ awareness of their safety and security while exposing corrupt or evil activities.

The facilitators also provided practical advice to female journalists during this politically charged period. They emphasised the significance of avoiding flashy attire or accessories, revealing clothing, and high heels shoes. Maintaining personal space and positioning oneself in a neutral location during potentially volatile situations, such as covering riots, were also suggested.

Eastina Taylor, President of Women in the Media Sierra Leone, urged participants to prioritise the security of their families and stay connected with their loved ones, especially school-goers who could be targeted to intimidate journalists.

Furthermore, the facilitators encouraged participants to conduct safety and threat analyses before attending events and to remain vigilant of their surroundings. Recognising potential threats, evaluating their positions, and diffusing situations whenever possible were emphasised. Additionally, they emphasised the importance of staying with their team to ensure safety in numbers.

The training concluded with an engaging experience-sharing session, allowing participants to exchange insights, followed by a question-and-answer segment.

SLAJ’s efforts to empower female journalists with safety and security knowledge underscore their commitment to responsible journalism and the protection of media professionals during the election period. With the training provided, these journalists are now equipped to cover the upcoming elections securely and effectively.

 

Screenshot (214)

False Claims: Court Cases Disprove Allegations of Unheard Presidential Election Grievances

By: Christian Conteh

Claim- The ruling government (SLPP) lost the general elections in 2012, they took their case to the judiciary but the judiciary refused to hear the matter. In 2018 the APC lost the elections, their leader did not go to court, he instead threatened to make the country ungovernable.

Verdict- FALSE– In 2012 Julius Maada Bio and the SLPP took their grievance to court and the matter was heard, same happened in 2018: Samura Kamara and the APC took their grievance to court and it was heard and even publically televised.

Full Text

The Director of Operations at the Sierra Leone Police AIG Braima Jah has at the usual police press conference held at George Street in Freetown claimed that the ruling SLPP lost the 2012 elections, took their case to court but it was not heard whilst in the reverse the APC lost the 2018 elections and did not go to court but rather threatened to make the state ungovernable.

In the video that has gone viral https://www.tiktok.com/@medulla571/video/7241384588554063147 AIG Jah is heard commending the ruling government for being law-abiding and politically tolerant.

“The ruling government is law-abiding, they believe in the rule of law, they are politically tolerant and those who actually claim that the police are at the beck and call of the ruling government are those that are not politically tolerant, are those that do not believe in the rule of law.

“Let me give you a clear example, in 2012 the ruling government at this point lost the elections, they went to the judiciary which is actually there to look into their case, they were denied their chance, the judiciary could not hear them. When they did not hear them what did their flagbearer do?

“He packed his bag and said ‘leh ar go London leh ar go do PhD’ and then he left to read abroad.

“And then in 2018 the opposite happened; a political party leader lost the election, he did not go to the judiciary which is provided to actually look into his case and see whether there were issues of concern and they were genuine, he simply said I will make Sierra Leone ungovernable.”

[Directly transcribed from the video taken at the weekly police press conference]

Methodology

In order to verify the claim, the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom did thorough research on election cases that had been brought before the courts. The research confirmed that:

In 2012, Julius Maada Bio and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) challenged the results of the presidential elections in Sierra Leone. The elections took place in November 2012, and Bio, the SLPP candidate, filed a petition against the victory of Ernest Bai Koroma, the incumbent president and candidate of the All People’s Congress (APC).

The case was brought before the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, where the SLPP alleged irregularities and electoral malpractices that influenced the election outcome. They sought the court’s intervention to overturn the results and declare Bio as the winner.

The Supreme Court carefully reviewed the evidence presented by both parties, heard arguments from their legal representatives, conducted an extensive verification exercise of the election materials and scrutinised the conduct of the elections.

On September 26, 2013, the Supreme Court delivered its verdict, unanimously dismissing the petition filed by Bio and the SLPP. The court upheld the victory of Ernest Bai Koroma and the APC, as the SLPP’s claims of irregularities and malpractices were not sufficiently supported by evidence to justify overturning the results.

Consequently, the case concluded with the Supreme Court affirming the legitimacy of Ernest Bai Koroma as the elected President of Sierra Leone for the 2012-2017 term.

In 2018, Dr. Samura Kamara and the All People’s Congress (APC) filed a petition challenging the results of the presidential elections in Sierra Leone. The elections were held in March 2018, and Dr. Kamara, the APC candidate, disputed the victory of Julius Maada Bio, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) candidate. The APC alleged irregularities, electoral malpractices, and constitutional violations during the electoral process that they believed influenced the election outcome.

The case went before the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, where hearings were conducted and evidence from both parties was reviewed. The court carefully examined the election materials, scrutinised the conduct of the elections, and listened to arguments from the legal representatives of the APC and the SLPP.

On March 31, 2018, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment, ruling unanimously to uphold the validity of the presidential elections and confirming Julius Maada Bio as the winner. The court determined that the APC’s allegations were not adequately supported with evidence to justify nullifying the election results.

As a result, the legal challenge by Dr. Samura Kamara and the APC concluded with the Supreme Court validating the election of Julius Maada Bio as the President of Sierra Leone for the 2018-2023 term.

Conclusion

The evidence conclusively proves that in 2012 Julius Maada Bio and the SLPP brought a case before the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone. The Supreme Court delivered its verdict, unanimously dismissing the petition filed by Bio and the SLPP.

Similarly, in 2018, Dr. Samura Kamara and the All People’s Congress (APC) filed a petition challenging the results of the presidential election. On March 31, 2018, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment, ruling unanimously to uphold the validity of the presidential elections and confirming Julius Maada Bio as the winner.

 

This fact-checked story is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!

n

SLBC Cameraman’s Cap and Shirt had Environmental Messages, Not SLPP Symbol

By Julian Koroma

Claim: A recent photo circulated on social media suggests that a cameraman employed by the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC) wore a cap with the symbol of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) during an SLPP rally in Bo.

The screenshot of a WhatsApp status.

Verdict: FALSE. The cameraman in question was wearing a shirt and a cap clad with world environment day images.

Full Text

On June 9, the SLPP held a rally in Bo, attracting journalists and cameramen from various radio and television stations who were present at the Bo City Stadium to provide coverage. It is not uncommon for media personnel to be present at political rallies to report on the events. Following the rallies in Bo, a screenshot of an individual wearing an SLBC-logo jacket while holding a camera was shared on social media. The individual in question was also seen wearing a cap with green inscriptions.

Several comments on social media suggested that the cameraman was showing support for the SLPP party. While it is not illegal for journalists or employees of radio and television stations to have personal political affiliations, openly associating with a political party can indicate bias, which is considered unethical in journalism.

Methodology

In order to verify the claim, the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom located pictures of the SLBC cameraman. It was confirmed that the cameraman did wear a cap with green inscriptions, but the inscriptions were not related to the SLPP symbol. Instead, they celebrated World Environment Day, which took place on June 5 2023.

Revealing images of the SLBC man wearing a world environment day shirt and cap.

Conclusion

The evidence conclusively proves that the posts circulating on social media are false. The SLBC cameraman was not wearing an SLPP cap, but rather a cap commemorating World Environment Day. It is crucial to ensure accurate reporting and avoid spreading misinformation, especially in sensitive political contexts.

This fact-checked article is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!

A picture of APC's 2023 Presidential candidate Samura Kamara. Photo Credit: The Sierra Leone Telegraph.

PPRC Did Not Stop APC Rally: Fact Check Confirms

By: Julian Koroma

Claim: TikToker Abdulai Bangura17 shared a tweet on TikTok stating that the Political Parties Regulation Commission (PPRC) has stopped the All People Congress Party (APC) from holding campaign rallies.

Verdict: FALSE

A recent claim made on social media alleges that Sierra Leone’s Political Parties Regulation Commission (PPRC) Chairman Abdulai Bangura halted the political rally of the All People’s Congress Party (APC) while allowing the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) to conduct its campaign. Given the probability of this post spreading misinformation and creating animosity among members of opposing parties in the campaign, SLAJ/NDI found it necessary to investigate the claim.

The initial claim was shared on Twitter but has since been deleted. However, screenshots of the tweet continue to circulate on platforms like TikTok, raising concerns about the spread of misinformation and potential animosity among supporters of different political parties.

A screenshot of the claim on Ticktok

Methodology

To verify the claim, the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom consulted the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) to determine the regulations governing the campaign period. According to the ECSL, the campaign period for the presidential, parliamentary, and local council elections began on May 23, 2023.

The ECSL’s campaign calendar outlines the specific dates and districts for each political party’s rallies. We also obtained a preliminary report from the PPRC, which monitors the election campaign. The report indicated the PPRC’s satisfaction with the conduct of all political parties during the rallies held from May 23 to June 1.

A page from ECSL’s elections campaign calendar.

To gather further information, we interviewed Lucian Momoh, the Director of Training and External Relations at the PPRC. Momoh categorically stated, “The PPRC chairman has never and would never halt any political party from campaigning.”

A screenshot of PPRC’s Report

Additionally, posts on Facebook from APC supporters confirmed that they held a rally on June 2, which aligned with the date assigned to the APC in the ECSL’s campaign calendar.

A screenshot of one of the posts found on Facebook of the APC rally (2 June 2023).

Conclusion- Our investigation found no evidence to support the claim that the PPRC stopped the APC from conducting its campaign rally. The PPRC’s Director of Training and External Relations, Lucian Momoh, confirmed that the PPRC has not banned any political party from holding rallies. Therefore, we rate this claim as false.

 

This fact-checked article is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!

R

Rumours Confirmed: Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai Withdraw Candidature After Nomination by APC in Kono District

By: Mustapha Sheriff

 

Claim: Two members of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) Party in Kono District, Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel

Sahr Yongai, have withdrawn their candidature after being nominated to run as Members of Parliament in Kono district under the APC.

 

Verdict: TRUE

Acting APC Chairman of Kono District, Sahr Mattia, and District Elections Manager/District Returning Officer of Kono District, Osman Joe Kamara, have confirmed the withdrawal of candidature by Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai last month after their nomination by the APC.

In two separate letters dated May 8th and 9th, 2023, Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai officially withdrew their candidature from the APC, effective immediately. The letters, titled “Withdrawal of Candidature from the APC,” were widely circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp platforms, catching the attention of the public.

 

Methodology: To verify the authenticity of the withdrawal letters circulating online, the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom contacted various individuals involved. They reached out to Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai, the two APC members in question, as well as the Acting Chairman of APC Kono District and the District Elections Manager/District Returning Officer of Kono District.

Through phone conversations, Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai confirmed their withdrawal of candidature from the Elections Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) after being nominated by the APC party in Kono District. The Acting Chairman of APC Kono District and the ECSL District Returning Officer also acknowledged receiving the withdrawal letters from both candidates.

However, it was clarified by the ECSL District Returning Officer that the APC informed him about removing Fellicia’s name from the list of nominated candidates in Kono, whereas Emmanuel Sahr Yongai’s name remained on the list.

Attached are copies of the withdrawal letters from Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips and Emmanuel Sahr Yongai 

Meanwhile, Sahr Mattia, the Acting APC Chairman of Kono District expressed no regret over Fellicia’s resignation from the APC, stating that she had affiliations with two different political parties. He mentioned that Fellicia was initially placed #6 on the candidate list but was raised to #4 due to the intervention of some APC stakeholders. However, Fellicia unexpectedly went for nomination under the PMDC without informing the APC, resulting in her resignation from the APC and withdrawal of her candidature.

Isata Fellicia Wieh Philips clarified that she had resigned from the APC before withdrawing her candidature based on the advice of her constituents. She confirmed joining the PMDC and being nominated under their ticket.

Emmanuel Sahr Yongai also confirmed his withdrawal from the APC but remains a member of the party in Kono District. He mentioned winning the party primaries with a higher vote count than his opponent. However, his name did not appear as the first-choice candidate, leading to disappointment among his supporters. Despite stepping down from the race, he has no intentions of defecting to another political party.

Conclusion: The rumours surrounding the withdrawal of candidature from ECSL by two APC members in Kono District have been confirmed as true. 

This fact-checked article is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.

The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.

U Don Chek Am? Na 4 Chek Am!