The Managing Editor of Nightwatch Press, Emmanuel Christian Thorli, aka Alpha, has disclosed that he “was manhandled by some Njala University (NU) staff” on Sunday 11 September 2022 at Ellen Street, Ebo Town in Waterloo, Western Rural District.
According to Thorli, after giving a tribute at the New Life Ministries International Waterloo Fellowship Church to his late colleague, Ralph Simeon Sesay, “I was invited outside the church by the Deputy Public Relations Officer of NU, Ayuba Koroma, to discuss with him and some staff of the University.”
Thorli said he was accompanied by one of his staff, Ragan M. Conteh, to where the Njala University staffers had converged. He said Deputy Public Relations Officer Ayuba Koroma “first introduced me to the staff, and all of them introduced themselves to me”.
He said after the introduction, one of the Njala University staff members said, “Emmanuel, you are here for you to clarify your utterances against Njala University during your tribute which did not go down well with us at all.”
The Nightwatch Press Proprietor and Managing Editor said he asked them about which utterances he was being alleged of saying against the university.
Emmanuel Christian Thorli, Proprietor/Managing Editor
“The Njala Academic Staff Association (ASA) members asked what actually prompted me to use the word ‘dorty’ against their institution,” Thorli narrated.
He said that he responded that he used the word during his tribute to his former staff as it was an advice he had given the late Ralph Simeon Sesay before he took up the PRO position at Njala University.
“I was surprised at the way they came at me. I attempted to leave but they held me, started using invectives against my mother and started slapping and beating me heavily on the head,” Emmanuel narrated.
The media personality said he tried to substantiate or clarify his statement for the Njala University staffers to understand, “but they still chased me, even when I managed to escape the irate gathering”, he added.
The Managing Editor said the incident happened in the presence of the Deputy Public Relations Officer of the University and a Nightwatch staff by the name of Ragan M. Conteh.
“My staff tried to prevent me from the severe manhandling I was receiving but he was unable to withstand the crowd of ASA staff that had gathered around me,” Emmanuel asserted.
He went on that after he had succeeded in his escape from their hands, “the Njala University Deputy PRO followed me again, and as I was standing by a vehicle, they also rushed at me and seriously mobbed me”.
It was at that moment that Nightwatch Press staff and journalist Ragan M. Conteh alerted the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists Secretary General, Alhaji Manika Kamara, and a host of journalists who eventually rescued Thorli from the hands of the Njala University staffers.
“It was a surprise for me to be treated in this manner during the burial of my late colleague, Ralph Sesay, who was also the former editor of Nightwatch newspaper and former Public Relations Officer of Njala University until his death,” cried Thorli.
“In fact, upon my arrival at Ellen Street, where the Njala University staff members had converged, they quickly surrounded me and started asking me random questions relating to my tribute. They also ordered me to return to the church immediately and withdraw the statement I made in my tribute about Njala University,” he further narrated.
Emmanuel said he was rescued by the SLAJ National Secretary General, Alhaji Manika Kamara, together with the SLAJ Southern Regional Chairman Abubakarr Mustapha and other journalists, who were also in attendance at the funeral service of their late colleague.
Emmanuel C. Thorli said even after the SLAJ National Secretary General tried to intervene to get the situation amicably resolved to get him safely out of the scene, “the NU staff also threatened to assault the SLAJ Secretary General”.
One of the Njala University staff members is especially noted for openly saying that had the funeral taken place in Bo, “Emmanuel C. Thorli would not have made it out with his life!” It must be noted here that Njala University has the singular honour of being the only university staff with an SLPP organisation.
Meanwhile, the fracas lasted for about an hour, until when the former SLAJ Vice President, Stanley Bangura left the church to ascertain what had actually transpired, including claims and counterclaims, especially so when the church service of the late Njala University PRO was still in progress.
Stanley Bangura said he was disappointed that the NU staff “will go so low as to beat a journalist for merely mentioning the university in a short tribute to a late colleague”.
He added: “I don’t think the tribute of Emmanuel Thorli’s harmed anyone; he was narrating on what transpired with the late Simeon Ralph Sesay before he took up the Njala University PRO position. Besides, if you people are aggrieved, there is a channel to do so rather than manhandling a respectable man like Emmanuel Thorli.”
It was only then, according to Thorli, that some of the NU staffers came to their senses and publicly apologised to him for their reckless behaviours.
He said the Deputy Public Relations Officer of Njala University and some staffers knelt down, touched his feet as a sign of apology for him not to take any action or allow what transpired to come out in the public domain. This apology was done in the presence of some NU staff members and members of SLAJ, including the SLAJ S.G.
“But for a very public person like Thorli to be assaulted in public, these staffers were a bit naïve to think that a private apology would suffice. These are men of letters and for the love of God they are expected to set examples in even how to behave in public. What they did was and still is unacceptable. Imagine if we were in Bo as the other NU staff member had said, maybe we would have been talking about Thorli’s funeral by now. And for what, because he had the audacity to repeat what he had privately said to a friend and late colleague? Freedom of expression is the height of western academia. These men by their designation as university staff should at all times behave like the philosophers they are supposed to be,” said a very disappointed member of the NU staff present at the funeral.
Meanwhile, SLAJ President, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, has condemned the action by the Njala University.
“This is very shocking! How can you beat a journalist, or any citizen for that matter, for giving an honest tribute to a colleague? This is a great dishonour to the late gentleman, who was a distinguished staff of NU. We keep saying that if you feel aggrieved about what a journalist says or writes, there are appropriate channels to seek redress rather than taking the law into your own hands,” the SLAJ President said.
Mr Nasralla furthered that, “SLAJ wishes to continue to inform the public that journalists can be reported to the SLAJ Disciplinary Committee or the Independent Media Commission (IMC).”
SLAJ has meanwhile called on the administration of Njala University to investigate the incident and take the appropriate action. Emmanuel Thorli has reported the matter to the Waterloo Police Division and has sought medical attention.
To be continued….