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NEWS  

Sierra Leone Police Release Alleged Guinean Assassinator after failed attempt on Sylvia Nasser's life
By Awareness Times
Mar 27, 2009, 17:14
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In the last one week, Sierra Leone has been awash with reports that a failed assassination attempt in the early morning hours of Wednesday 18th March 2009 by unknown gunmen on one Sylvia Nasser, an Internet Caf owner at Lumley Roundabout was actually a case of mistaken identity with the assassins having actually aimed at the life of one of Sierra Leones most critical newspaper publisher Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden who also owns the main Internet Caf at the Lumley Roundabout.

Sylvia Nasser runs SYLS INTERNET CAFE located at Lumley, just a few doors from Sylvia Blydens LUMLEY BEACH DOT COM Internet Caf (not to be mistaken with the SYLVIA BLYDEN DOT COM Internet Caf in Central Freetown). Sylvia Nasser miraculously survived a bullet fired at her head which sniped through the flesh of her skull but spared her skull bone. The assassins, who are believed to be Guinean nationals, repeatedly asked her to confirm her name was Sylvia before they fired her. The first bullet sniped through the flesh of her head whilst the pistol miraculously jammed when the assassins tried to fire at her a second time.

One of the alleged assassins has been caught but he was released a few days after by the Police. The Inspector General of Police has however assured this newspaper in an interview that the release was not due to anything sinister.

Awareness Times investigative team has spent the last week carefully digging up facts and interviewing various actors on this matter. Here are what they have to say:

INTERVIEW WITH SYLVIA NASSER
By Abdul Karim Kabia

Twenty nine (29) years old businesswoman Sylvia Nasser explained how she was attacked in the early morning hours of Wednesday 18th March 2009 by armed men on her way home, after close of business.

Explaining her ordeal, Sylvia Nasser stated that she closed her Syls Internet Caf at around midnight on the day in question and decided to use a commercial motorbike (okada) to return home, since her residence has no parking space for her SYL-001 Jeep. She pointed out that she had noticed two motorbikes were parked outside the shop for a period of about thirty minutes before she closed down for the day. She said it was not the normal place for commercial bikes to be parked and she also noticed that one of the bikes had been carrying two men with their faces on the opposite direction from where she was standing.

"As soon as I closed my shop after midnight, another motorbike drove up and speedily cajoled me to use his bike to find my way home", she stated, adding that at no point in time did she ever have an earlier motorbike rider named Amadu offer to take her which then later refused as was being rumoured and as had been confirmed by the Secretary of the Bike Riders.

"That my attacker was the first and only rider who speedily asked to take me home and I hopped on to his bike without any delay and headed for my Main Peninsular Road residence in Goderich but little did I know that the other guys were detailed to follow us".

She continued that on arrival at her residence just after Milton Margai College Campus, she telephoned her mother to open the door whilst she was trying to pay the bike rider.

"The bike rider who had strangely parked some yards away from our door despite me showing him where I wanted him to stop, then rather than receiving the money, asked for my name and I initially refused giving him my name. He refused to take the money but just kept on insisting to know my name. He had a Guinean accent when he was speaking. Since he was not going to take his fare unless I told him my name, I then answered and said I am called Sylvia because I had not wanted to waste precious time", she narrated, adding that at this point, the bike rider still refused to take the fare but pretended to park his bike properly.

"Before I could figure out what was going on, he took out a stick from the bike and hit me solidly on my hand. Suddenly, three unknown persons arrived at the scene and used sticks on me whilst the first bike rider who had been asking my name, dragged me to the side of the street by my hips," Sylvia explained.

According to her, the attackers now numbered four in all and they spoke to each other with heavy Fula accents. She explained how she was mercilessly beaten for like ten minutes with the assailants taking her bag with all her possessions. After this, she explained, one of the three men who joined the first one took out a gun, pointed it at her head and fired a shot but she dodged her head and the bullet tipped her flesh sparing her skull.

"At this moment, it occurred to me as if hot water was thrown at my face, only to later discover that it was blood from the bullet wound I sustained", she explained saying her face was all covered in blood and she was trashing in pain. She pointed out that the first bike rider was referred to by the others as Osman whilst the attackers referred to the shooter as Sarjoh,

She stated that Osman later ordered the men to fire another gun shot at her neck near the front of her chest so as to finish the job. However, according to Sylvia, God provided a miracle as the gun got jammed and no bullet came out despite several attempts to fire another bullet into her neck and chest.

I started screaming for help with my blood all running now from my head into my mouth. I was spitting blood out and screaming for help and this finally got the intervention of neighbours who stepped out of their house. This then scared the men away but according to Sylvia, the original bike rider named Osman Baldeh was subsequently arrested by neighbours and handed over to the police.

"I was admitted at the Intensive Care of the Choithram Memorial Hospital and was only discharged after several days," she stated, adding "I visited the Adonkia Police station, were the arrested suspect was detained, and I made my statement but the police did not proceed with the matter until I was forced to complain to AIG Chris Charley which was when I learnt that infact the suspect had already been released".

"What kind of country is this? How can a woman be attacked, beaten up, shot with a gun and left to die on the streets only for the police to release her attacker?" she questioned adding that her lawyers will charge the matter to court as a private criminal prosecution if the police fail to do so.

INTERVIEW WITH SECRETARY, BIKE RIDERS, LUMLEY
Conducted by Emmanuel Joe

The Secretary of the Okada Bike Riders for the Lumley Goderich Area, Mr. Chernor Barrie explained the associations own side of the incident. According to Chernor, he first of all confirmed that this macabre shooting of Sylvia Nasser by Motorbike riders was the very first time such armed criminal activity was taking place in the several years since they started running their speedy Motor Bike service that served the Lumley and Goderich axis.

He said there were indeed some strange men on a motorbike parked outside the Internet Caf that night but that the men were not members of their association. He said one of their own members he identified as Osman Baldeh Bah agreed to ride Sylvia Nasser home.

He confirmed a strong rumour doing the rounds around Lumley that another bike rider named Amadu had first agreed to take Sylvia Nasser but then strangely turned down the job saying he wanted no part of it. Chernor however said Amadu turned down the job because he did not like how Sylvia Nasser was speaking and not because he suffered from any guilt-trip as was being rumoured all over.

According to Chernor, neither Amadu nor Osman were a part of the assassination but it was the strange bike riders whom had been lounging around the Lumley Roundabout who shot at Sylvia. Mr. Chernor claims that Osman is a victim of circumstances and Osman does not know the assassins who shot at Sylvias head.

Chernor claims that Osman was himself roughed up by the assailants and had to flee for his life and that whilst he was fleeing, he encountered a police checkpoint and turned his bike around to avoid being questioned as he was afraid to be associated with what had just happened. He said it was upon turning back that he met up again with the bleeding Sylvia surrounded by her neighbours and Sylvia then identified him as the bike rider who brought her.

Chernor says that Osman was given mob justice and mercilessly beaten before being handed to the Police. Chernor says the association of Bike Riders was firmly standing behind their member Osman whom they say was an innocent man and that the real assassins were the mysterious Bike Riders on two mystery motor bikes at the Lumley Roundabout.

Chernor was asked to provide Amadu, the Bike Rider who had first agreed to take Sylvia along but until presstime last night, Amadu was yet to surface to tell us why he reportedly suffered a change of mind as to carrying the mission out to ride Sylvia from Lumley to Goderich.

INTERVIEWS WITH POLICE COMMANDERS
By Aruna Turay

This reporter first visited the Lumley Police Station where we were informed that Lumley has no knowledge of any such criminal activity involving the shooting of any lady named Sylvia. I then proceeded to the Adonkia Police Station where it was confirmed that indeed the matter was under investigation. It was confirmed by the Adonkia Police that a suspect, Ousman Baldeh Bah, a Guinean national had been detained but had since been released from police custody.

The Acting Crime Officer Adonkia Police Station Sergeant Foday Kamara informed this press that the Guinean was released because investigations to the shooting of Nasser had to cease because Sylvia Nasser was yet to report to the station with her medical report from the hospital. He assured that the sole suspect captured so far will be charged to court but when he was pressed as to whether the suspect would be charged with attempted murder, he refrained from stating what would be the exact charges that Osman Baldeh Bah would be charged with.

I then proceeded to attempt to interview the Local Unit Commander (LUC) of the Adonkia Police Station, Umaru P. Kamara who was very unsettled to learn that journalists were "poking noses into a police investigation". He stated that he is "the boss of the station" and as such no journalist has the prerogative to question him as to "why, how, where and when to release a criminal or a suspect".

"I am Local Unit Commander Umaru P. Kamara of the Adonkia Police Station. I have the right to release any suspect or criminal at my will. I am only answerable to my boss, IG Acha Kamara, and no one else has the right to question my actions. I have released Osman Baldeh Bah and who so ever feels unsatisfied with his release, that is the persons business," LUC Kamara stated, with a commanding voice like a roaring offended male lion.

INTERVIEW WITH INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE
By Abdul Karim Kabia

When contacted, the polite Inspector General of Police, Brima Acha Kamara first of all apologized for the manner in which his LUC reacted to the reporter of Awareness Times Newspaper, and took his time to explain the circumstances that led to the release of the suspect.

IG Acha Kamara stated that the suspect was released in line with constitutional stipulations, adding that detaining a suspect for over 72 hours is an abuse of his/her human rights. He noted that the release of the suspect does not necessarily mean the end of an investigation, whilst noting that the suspect in this case was released because the attacked Sylvia Nasser had been unavailable for statement, as she was at that time still admitted at the Choithram Hospital.

The Police IG however, expressed how committed the hierarchy of the police is in bringing to book the culprits in the matter under review, and divulged to this medium that the matter has been transferred to the CID Headquarters for speedy investigation and to give it more serious attention since the matter was now so topical.

The Police Chief also confirmed to this medium that the suspect in question was indeed a Guinean National but assured that he had been released to reliable Sierra Leonean sureties and has been complying with bail conditions since he was released.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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