The deputy Chairman of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) Dr. Kadie Sesay disclosed yesterday to Journalists that they have lodged an appeal at the High Court against the decision of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) banning the Party’s radio station, Unity FM 94.9.
On Tuesday July 7th 2009, the IMC issued a statement announcing its withdrawal of the broadcast license of Unity Radio with immediate effect.
Dr. Sesay viewed the decision of the IMC as unlawful and a deliberate attempt to deny the Opposition its legitimate right to freedom of expression and a gross violation of its right to own and operate a radio station especially when they have complied with all the necessary conditions outlined in the IMC Act of 2000 and the media code of practice.
“ Mindful of the legitimate role it has to play as a viable opposition, and considering the unlawful conduct of the IMC, the SLPP through the Unity Communication and Unity Radio has lodged an appeal to the High Court of Sierra Leone as directed in section 22 of the IMC Act 2000, as amended” Dr. Sesay revealed.
She further said the IMC has failed to communicate its decision directly to Unity Radio as she stated that “Especially when one considers the fact that the High Court is to go on vacation today Wednesday July 15. It is therefore reasonable to suggest that the IMC’s decision was meant to coincide with the vacation period of the High Court, thus depriving the SLPP of seeking redress through the High Court” she stated.
Dr. Sesay argued that the IMC wrote the Unity Communications reminding them to pay their renewal license fee and they did so two weeks ago.
The notice of appeal to the High Court states that the first appellant- Unity Communications and the second appellant Radio Unity (94.9) wants the respondent- IMC to give substance of the decision being appealed against.
The grounds of appeal is that misdirection or errors in law in that the said decision by the IMC was made or reached in breach or contravention of, or in complete indifference to, various mandatory provisions of law under the governing IMC Act, No.12 of 2000, as amended.
The appellant is also seeking relief from the High Court for a declaration of nullity to the effect that the decision of the IMC dated 7th July 2009 is null and void, for being in breach of and inconsistent with various provisions in the governing statute and also incompatible with the Commission’s own responsibilities.
The notice of appeal is delivered and filed on behalf of the appellants herein by their solicitor, Dr. Bu- Buakei Jabbi of Jia- Jina Chambers. By Ishmael Bayoh