Justice Momoh-Jah Stevens Orders Radio Democracy To Retract, Tender Public Apology

Judiciary Communications, 23rd July, 2023: Court of Appeal Judge presiding over cases at the General Civil Division of the High Court, Hon. Justice Alhaji Momoh-Jah Stevens has ordered Radio Democracy FM 98.1 and one of their staff, Alex Lawrence Koroma to retract and tender profuse apology to the Inspector General of Police, William Fayia Sellu, for slanderous and defamatory broadcast on 23rd day of May 2023.

In their “Gud Morning Salone Program,” radio Democracy reported that the Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police, William Fayia Sellu was intimidating and using his power to take advantage of poor people at Lebbie Village, Sussex, Freetown. They went further, according to their broadcast, to state that William Fayia Sellu used OSD personnel to harass and intimidate community people for a land at Lebbie Village Sussex in Freetown. The report added that, “William Fayia Sellu the Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police ordered OSD personnel to arrest and detain a certain Samuel Mathew Kargbo.”

On the 2nd June, 2023 the Inspector General of Police through his Lawyer, Demba Barrie, instituted an action against Radio Democracy FM 98.1 (First Defendant) and Producer Alex Lawrence Koroma (Second Defendant). The Writ of Summons served was exhibited including the affidavits of personal service. An appearance was entered by Tanner Legal Advisory on behalf of Radio Democracy and Alex Lawrence Koroma.

Addressing the Court, Hon. Justice Momoh-Jah Stevens said it was very obvious from the records before the Court that Radio Democracy and Alex Lawrence Koroma were served with the Writ of Summons as seen in Exhibits DB2 and DB3 respectively.

“Counsel representing the 2nd Defendant herein entered Appearance on the 12th day of June 2023 but failed to file a Defence to the said action,” he said, adding that, “on the 19th June 2023, Counsel entered Appearance for the 1st Defendant and further made another Appearance for the 2ndDefendant, though an earlier Appearance had already been made for the 2nd Defendant. Counsel for the Defendants/Respondents did not file a Defence as provided for under the High Court Rules 2007.”

The Hon. Judge went on to state that the Inspector General’s Lawyer canvassed the Court, that because the Defendants/Respondents “do not have a Defence that is why no Defence was filed and as such Defendants have submitted themselves to the Claims made in the Writ of Summons instituted by the Plaintiff herein.”

This case is very simple and straightforward for me to decide without a marathon or plethora of legal authorities, he added, stating that, “I am convinced by the argument canvassed by Counsel for the Plaintiff herein and to epitomize same, is because the Defendants herein do not have any Defence that is why the necessary action was not taken by filing Defence and Counterclaim to the Claims of the Plaintiff and by so doing the Defendants put in issue the respectability, status and esteem of the Plaintiff herein.”

He personally commended the Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police, being the distinguished Head of the Sierra Leone Police, yet he did not take the Law into his hands but followed the due process, indicating that the Plaintiff (Inspector General) is a respecter of the Rule of Law and Human Rights of the citizens of Sierra Leone.

The Judge concluded that, “I hereby enter final Judgment for the Plaintiff/Applicant herein pursuant to Order 22 Rule 3 of the High Court Rules 2007 in Default of Defence to the Writ of Summons instituted by the Plaintiff herein against the Defendants herein, as follows:

This Court Orders Damages against the 1st and 2nd Defendants/Respondents for Slander contained in an aired program (Broadcasts) at Radio Democracy FM 98.1 on the 23rd day of May 2023 against and concerning the Plaintiff/Applicant as follows:

This Honourable Court orders the Defendants herein forthwith using the same Radio Democracy 98.1 to retract the broadcast and circulated slanderous and defamatory statements in Krio Language, the content of which should be procured by the Plaintiff and approved by this Court.

This Honourable Court orders the Defendants herein to tender apology for the Defamatory and Slanderous Statement against the personality and credibility of the Plaintiff/Applicant herein. This Honourable Court orders an Injunction against the Defendants herein from further broadcasting the same defamatory and scandalous statements in Order 1 herein. This Honourable Court Orders Counsel for the Plaintiff herein to file a separate Notice of Motion for assessment of damages after the High Court vacation in October 2023 against the 1st and 2nd Defendants before me for the hearing and determination of same. Costs to be taxed if not agreed upon.”

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