Senior Magistrate of Freetown Pademba Road Magistrate Court number 2, Manuella Harding has on Tuesday 28th February 2017, discharged and acquitted the former Leader and Chairman of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), John Oponjo Benjamin; the Editor of the Awareness Times Newspaper, Abdul Malik Bangura and the Head of Publishing of the Awareness Times Newspaper, Benjamin Davies in a case reported by Honourable Mohamed Lansana Kallon of two counts of conspiracy and defamatory libel against Mr. Kallon.
The particulars of offence state that the Awareness Times Newspaper Editor Abdul Malik Bangura, John Oponjo Benjamin and Benjamin Davies conspired with other unknown persons to publish on the Awareness Times Newspaper’s Thursday 16th June 2016, frontpage a story titled, “Segbwema’s M.L. Kallon is a ‘Drunk & Thief’…John Benjamin Says Elected SLPP Chairman Stole Rice.”
Meanwhile, yesterday whilst delivering her judgment, the erudite female Magistrate Manuella Harding stated that she is convinced that the Awareness Times Newspaper journalists were only doing their job by contacting the SLPP former Chairman and Leader to react to insults earlier rained on him by the complainant during a radio broadcast on Eastern Radio, in Kenema District.
She therefore said that having looked at the evidence submitted to the court by the defense counsel; she noticed that the prosecution has no case against the three individuals. She then acquitted and discharged the accused persons of all count charges.
In addition, the Honourable Magistrate begged the Awareness Times Newspaper Team to forgive and forget the wasting of their precious time. She further implored them not to make any claims of compensation as she fondly said “Awareness Times Newspaper is the most widely circulated newspaper, so it is rich.”
Meanwhile, it is worthy to note that M.L. Kallon, as the complainant is fondly called, is a supporter of Maada Bio, one of the main contenders with John Oponjo Benjamin for the presidential ticket of the SLPP. Bio’s supporters are referred to as the “Paopas” in local parlance which means they seek political power at all cost.
As per popular demand, the Awareness Times Newspaper in today’s edition is repeating the Thursday 16th June 2016, frontpage story titled, “Segbwema’s M.L. Kallon is a ‘Drunk & Thief’…John Benjamin Says Elected SLPP Chairman Stole Rice,” the one for which the court action was instituted, and the“SLPP’s Segbwema Chairman says he drinks & goes Drunk,” the article for which Kallon admitted in court that he drinks and goes drunk.
SLPP’s Segbwema Chairman says he drinks & goes Drunk
Our Court Reporter Reproduce By Popular Demand
Mohamed Lansana Kallon, Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) chairman in Constituency 007, Segbwema, Kailahun district has confessed that not only does he drink alcohol but he drinks and gets drunk. M. L. Kallon as he is fondly called made this statement during cross examination by a brilliant young lawyer, Tommel Harding Esq. in a case reported by Kallon in which the former chairman and leader of the SLPP, John Oponjo Benjamin; Acting Editor and Publisher of this newspaper, Abdul Malik Bangura and Benjamin Davies respectively were summoned to answer to two counts of conspiracy and defamatory libel against Mr. Kallon. The particulars of offence state that the Awareness Times Newspaper on Thursday 16th June, 2016 published on its front page a story titled, “Segbwema’s M.L. Kallon is a ‘Drunk & Thief’…John Benjamin Says Elected SLPP Chairman Stole Rice,” which Hon. Kallon, as he testified on Tuesday 20th September 2016, said has reduced his respect to ordinary citizens in Segbwema, Kailahun District. However, whilst being cross examined, the SLPP strongman confirmed in an open court that he drank alcohol and also got drunk. Speaking in local Krio dialect, under serious cross examination by one of the fantastic defence lawyers, Kallon told presiding magistrate Madam Manuella Harding that: “Ar kin drink rum and when ar drink, ar kin chak some tem dem”. In addition, M. L. Kallon also confirmed to the Magistrate that in 1994, he was not only accused of stealing rice but he was actually arrested, detained and charged to court for stealing rice. Awareness Times Newspaper had sought and published a reaction to the vehement attack by M.L. Kallon on distinguished SLPP personalities during a broadcast on Eastern Radio in Kenema in which, M.L. Kallon referred to John Oponjo Benjamin as “a dangerous man” amongst other insults.
In that same broadcast, he said Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai is “an arrogant woman,” whilst he referred to SLPP’s Franklyn Rogers as possibly “a lunatic.” Section 30 of Part V of Sierra Leone’s Public Order Act of 1965 say that criminal libel laws do not apply in cases where someone is responding to a previous insult neither do they apply for newspapers covering such responses.
The case is been presided over by Magistrate Manuella Harding of Freetown Pademba Road Court Number 2 and the matter was adjourned to Friday 7th October, 2016, when the Independent Media Commission will be summoned to present a copy of the audio recording of M.L Kallon viciously attacking John Benjamin and other SLPP persons during the said radio broadcast on Eastern Radio, in Kenema.
John Benjamin Says Elected SLPP Chairman Stole Rice
Abdul Malik Bangura Reproduce By Popular Demand
Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) is supposed to be the main opposition party in the country but series of events have shattered the credibility of the entire party membership. The latest is that a senior SLPP elected official is a common thief who was caught stealing rice. Revelations like this is why the SLPP is no longer seen as an alternative government by right thinking members of society.
This latest damage to SLPP is the revelation that the man who was elected by SLPP members in Segbwema, Kailahun, to be their Constituency Chairman, is allegedly a common thief with a propensity for drunkenness. The allegation against Segbwema SLPP chairman Mohamed Lamin Kallon, was made by no less a person than another very senior member of the SLPP, John Oponjo Benjamin who himself once served as SLPP’s National Chairman & Leader. This has further dented the credibility of the SLPP which is already well known for its trademark of violence.
The allegation that SLPP chose a common thief and drunk was made on Wednesday 15th June 2016 when the Awareness Times Newspaper contacted Benjamin for him to react to insults first rained on him by M.L. Kallon over a radio programme in Kenema district.
M.L. Kallon is a supporter of Maada Bio, one of the main contenders with John Oponjo Benjamin for the presidential ticket of the SLPP. Bio’s supporters are referred to as the “Paopas” in local parlance which means they seek political power at all cost.
M.L. Kallon during a radio programme which was recently broadcast on Eastern Radio, in Kenema had alleged that Mr. Benjamin was jeopardizing police investigations on the slaughtering to death of one Mohamed Karim (aka Daddy George) in Kenema town during a confrontation between supporters of Bio and supporters of John Benjamin. The late Daddy George was a supporter of John Benjamin and he hailed from Segbwema, where both Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Kallon hail from. Benjamin had openly accused his fellow SLPP members from the rival PAOPA warring faction, as having murdered Daddy George.
Speaking live on air, M.L. Kallon of PAOPA, said the accusation made by John Benjamin that Maada Bio, Dr. Mansaray, Mayor Keifala and Fokai Demby are orchestrators of the murder and intra-SLPP violence, was completely out of track.
Hon. Kallon further called the Alliance of All Aspirants (AAA) of SLPP to which Benjamin belonged, to be conspirators against Maada Bio.
Kallon specifically referred to one Franklyn Rogers of AAA as “likely to be a lunatic.”
Kallon hit at AAA members as “incompetent politicians” adding that most of them aspiring for SLPP presidential ticket are not even fit to be Parliamentarians or local councillors.
Kallon however kept his most vehement words for John Benjamin.
It was to seek a reaction to the vehement attack that Awareness Times contacted Benjamin John Oponjo Benjamin was however quite dismissive of M. L. Kallon. He said the statements made by Hon. Kallon are unfortunate and described him as “a drunk.” Benjamin alleged that on several instances, Kallon has been caught “stealing rice”. Benjamin furthered that when Kallon was caught stealing rice one time, it was Benjamin who intervened to free him from disgrace.
Therefore, in a very dismissive tone of voice, Mr. Benjamin stated that he could not talk further on the matter as he felt that M.L. Kallon and himself can never be on the same level.
How the SLPP members in Segbwema elected a drunk and rice thief to be their Constituency Chairman is what many tell this newspaper that they now ponder upon.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.