The wild unfounded rumor that spread all over Sierra Leone past weekend about armed robbers being caught on Saturday 3rd October 2009 with arms and ammunition whilst on board a black Pathfinder Jeep vehicle owned by the Publisher of the Awareness Times Newspaper Dr. Sylvia Blyden, is now proving to be an unfounded, baseless and cooked up story by some ill minded people who seem to be bent on tarnishing the good name of this countryís popular female newspaper Publisher.
It could be recalled that it was in the late hours of Saturday 3rd October 2009 that this baseless rumor started circulating and was subsequently widely disseminated via radio broadcasts and Ďbush radiosí. For example, the Star Radio operated by veteran journalist Philip Neville was particularly adamant in reporting to the Nation all through Sunday into the wee wee hours of Monday morning, that "notorious armed robbers" had been captured by Police at Lumley in the back jeep.
Well, the Awareness Times Editorial Board set up an active investigation team on the issue, with the mandate of investigating and uprooting the real facts of what exactly transpired on the said Saturday.
Firstly, the Awareness Times team went to the Freetown Regional Police Command Office at Brookfields to confirm if actually these guys were caught with arms and ammunition in their possession. We were privileged to speak with the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) for the Western Area also in charge of Crime Services, Chris Charlie. He was very courteous as he granted us an interview inside his Brookfields Offices. He quickly wasted no time in saying these words; "the police has never branded these suspects to be armed robbers neither has the police stated we found them to be in possession of arms and ammunition".
AIG Chris Charlie went on to assert that the Police cannot be blamed for private Radio Stations broadcasting false information about police operations. AIG Charlie further stated, "In real fact, police initial investigations so far has proved that both the Driver and the Assistant to Dr. Blyden were using her vehicle without her consent for a commercial purpose that night after they departed her office that Saturday night".
AIG Charlie went on stating that it was rather unfortunate that the Nigerians whom were being transported in Blydenís Jeep to a Nigerian Independence Gala Night along Lumley Beach, have criminal records in the past. He also assured that the suspects are liable to bail after giving their statements to the police within the 72 hours constitutional time.
The Awareness Times also caught up with a representative of the Nigerian Ambassador who was at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to enquire about his nationals. On his part, the Nigerian Embassy representative refused commenting on the matter to journalists except to state that he has completed his investigation with the CID and will now report to his Boss, the Ambassador as to his findings.
The Awareness Times investigation team also on more than ten occasions visited the CID and the Police Headquarters yesterday to confirmed doubtful questions like the following;
∑ For how long now has Police been trailing Dr. Blydenís Jeep?
∑ Were Police trailing Dr. Blydenís Jeep from her offices that night?
∑ How did the Arms & Ammunition story start?
∑ Why were Dr. Blydenís staff arrested from inside her vehicle?
∑ What were they arrested for and who instructed their arrest?
∑ What was the content of the tip-off that sparked the arrest?
However, as if the Police Headquarters were evading our newspaper, all these attempts to talk with these two Police Units proved futile. Since 8:00am when our journalists started storming Police Headquarters and the CID until 7:00pm last night, any attempts made by our team to see the top CID or Police Headquarters Officials were all discouraged as each time their secretaries told us they were "very busy".
Similarly, the Police Media Director Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ibrahim Samura, who is always quick and ready to speak on any issue under the sun, suddenly started shifting time for him to speak with our journalists. First he gave a 1:00pm appointment, then he shifted to 2:00pm and then to 4:00pm and finally when he spoke to us at 5:30pm, all he could say was "I still do not have full answers yet for you; Please be patient until tomorrow".
For the benefit of our readers, this team will continue to closely monitor and report our findings on this very topical matter accordingly. As reported yesterday, after Dr. Blydenís Driver, Mohamed Kujabi and one of Blydenís assistants, Kalidu Jalloh departed Blydenís PZ offices last Saturday where they had gone to deliver her usual dinner, instead of heading back to Blydenís residence where they had come from, they were convinced to use the Jeep, without her knowledge, to collect some Nigerian nationals who were said to be heading for the Nigerian 49th Independence Anniversary Gala Night along Lumley Beach. It was along Lumley Beach Road a short distance from one of Blydenís Internet Cafes that a team of two heavily-armed police trucks put the Jeep under gunpoint on the allegation that it was conveying armed robbers with some arms and ammunition. All the money and mobile phones of Blydenís staff were seized whilst Kalidu Jalloh himself was given a massive beating befitting an armed robber by the mob who had gathered to view the scene along Lumley Beach Road. It should here be noted that there is a growing anger in the society against the seeming impunity with which armed robberies are being carried out in the country lately.