Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Honourable Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden has said that dirty politics is emerging in the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) Party exactly like in the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). Hon. Blyden complains that though she is an APC Cabinet Minister, she has been threatened with death through stabbing by a worker of an APC-led government agency known as the Legal Aid Board. She opined that she was courageous enough to withstand the numerous politically motivated fights against her but she alerted journalists to be aware that many more of such activities are going to unfold within the APC led Government as the country runs up to the 2018 elections.
The minister made her observations on Thursday 2nd February 2017 during a press conference at her Ministry’s conference room, New England Ville, Freetown. She summoned journalists to react to an earlier statement from by the employer of the accused, Executive Director of Legal Aid Board of the Government, Madam Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles.
In an earlier press release, Hanciles had portrayed Kallon as having gone to secure bail for two children from the said police station before the activities happened that caused the minister to complain Kallon.
Reacting to this, Minister Blyden said “I want to make it very clear that I find the statements from the Executive Director of Legal Aid Board to be patently untrue, lies, malicious and a continuation of the ongoing attempts to paint me black by persons who have a political agenda.”
Hon. Blyden furthered “I find the actions of Madam Hanciles to be very distasteful and I have already expressed my bitter concerns to my colleague, the Honourable Joseph F. Kamara, Attorney General and Minister who supervises the Legal Aid Board.”
She therefore urged all concerned to please go to the New England police station for themselves and confirm information.
When Awareness Times Newspaper contacted ASP Murana Kamara, the Officer Commanding, New England Police Station, he explained that “The Minister accompanied by her bodyguards, escorted two youths to this police station at around 9:15pm in the night”.
He confirmed that the Minister personally requested him to hand over the youths to their parents for their own safety. He said the Minister told him that she did not want any harm to meet them “especially as they had gone to her Ministry in the night to act in a violent manner”.
The police boss said:
“We handed them to their responsible relatives who turned up to collect them. There was no question of securing bail for any of them. That is not at all true”.
When pressed further to elaborate more on the issue, he confirmed thus: “To answer directly as you are asking, let me say yes, I will call it a lie if anyone says he or she had to secure bail for two children at this police station that night. There is no truth to that”.
Meanwhile, throughout the press conference, Blyden repeatedly stressed that the threat allegedly by Kallon to stab her to death was politically motivated.
The issue of stabbing people for political reasons is not new in Sierra Leone but for many years now, it was rarely heard of as political tolerance had been very high.
However in May last year, bitterness in Opposition SLPP saw a member of one faction stabbing to death another member of another faction in Kenema city. The internal organs of a 32 year old SLPP supporter named Karimu Daddy George was gorged out with a knife wielded allegedly by another SLPP man named Mohamed Fonnie. The dead victim and the alleged killer belonged to two different bitter rival factions of the SLPP.
Within the current APC Government and according to the minister, there has been a surge in recent attempts to use children as pawns and tools in Politics. She said having failed in their plots to paint her black, detractors within the APC were now enraged and threatening to kill her.
She accused the LEGAL AID BOARD Director of engaging in dirty politics along the lines of those who had been trying, though unsuccessfully, to destroy her image under guise of her harming children.
However, answering questions from journalists as to whether she was not skeptical of the justice system given the affiliation between the Legal Aid Board and the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, the Minister assured the press that she trusts the Judiciary of Sierra Leone to administer justice, despite concerns raised by journalists over the lackluster performance of the Police prosecutor when the case was first called up.
Meanwhile, for reaction of the Honourable Minister and the press release from Legal Aid Board see below respectively.
Honourable Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Minister of Social Welfare, Gender & Children’s Affairs
New England Ville, Freetown, Republic of Sierra Leone
REF: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF LEGAL AID BOARD MADAM FATMATA CLAIRE CARLTON-HANCILES AKA FATU DEEN
I have read with utter distaste, the ‘Press Release’ issued by the Executive Director of Legal Aid Board Madam Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles in which she addresses the issue of one of her staff Ibrahim Kallon who is currently defending himself of criminal charges in court including allegations that he openly threatened to kill me by stabbing me to death and who also furthered that he has planned to slap me, a sitting Cabinet Minister, right in the presence of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
In her Press Release, Madam Fatmata Hanciles alleges that on Friday 27th January 2017, the said Kallon fellow, “went to secure bail in respect of two children at the New England police station”. She also asserts that “bail was secured”. All of this is untrue and in my opinion, it is all stated with a deliberately malicious and pre-meditated intent on her part.
Several media outlets have subsequently published that Legal Aid Board was concerned that children were to be detained in New England police cells meant for adults.
I want to make it very clear that I find the statements from the Executive Director of Legal Aid Board to be patently untrue, malicious and a continuation of the ongoing attempts to paint me black by persons who have a political agenda.
Madam Fatmata Hanciles is now purporting in writing under a Government letterhead that the prelude to alleged criminal actions of her staff Ibrahim Kallon is a scenario within which Kallon got very angry that children were detained or under threat of being placed in police cells. By so doing, Mrs. Fatmata Hanciles is not only trying to prejudice the matter now in front of the courts but she is also trying to subject me in bad light to right-thinking persons. Akin to English idiom of ‘Giving someone a bad name and then whipping the person’.
I find the actions of Madam Hanciles to be very distasteful and I have already expressed my bitter concerns to my colleague, the Honourable Joseph F. Kamara, Attorney General and Minister who supervises the Legal Aid Board.
I urge all concerned to please go to the New England police station yourselves and confirm the following information:
Two persons Mohamed Hunter Conteh and Kandeh Kamara purporting to be children but suspected to be above the age of 18 years, stormed this Ministry’s Conference Room at a time approaching 9pm in the night when other children from all districts were having their dinner. They banged on tables and doors whilst verbally accosting the children present from the Provinces.
I had the two of them swiftly removed, placed in my vehicle and driven to nearby New England police station where I personally handed them over to Officer Commanding the station, Assistant Superintendent of Police Murana Kamara with a request for him to phone their parents to go and collect them.
I recalled to ASP Murana Kamara that these two, Hunter and Kandeh were amongst the persons who had been spreading lies all over the world that my ministry was un-safe as thugs were there to beat up children. I therefore raised concerns that the same persons who had alleged my ministry was un-safe are the same ones who had now gone to the ministry in the dark of the night and with violence.
So, since I did not want anything to happen to them, I requested for the Police to please assist by handing them over to their parents. Right there in my presence, the mother of Kandeh Kamara went to collect and sign for her son. The other one, Mohamed Hunter Conteh, said his parents were in Lunsar and he had traveled from Lunsar all on his own that night to go and storm the Ministry. He however said he had an uncle whom will go and collect him. I understand a relative, a lawyer called Mr. Tejan Deen-Tarawally peacefully collected him.
It is totally untrue and outright lies to therefore say children had to be bailed or children were under threat of being placed in police cells. Infact, do lawyers sign to secure bail from Police?
Further, there is NO RECORD at New England Police of Ibrahim Kallon being involved in any of the Handing Over of the two. Please contact the following persons for more details:
1. ASP Murana Kamara (Officer Commanding, New England Police Station)
2. Police Sergeant James Songo who handed over Hunter Conteh to his uncle
3. Woman Police Constable Makuta Turay who handed Kandeh Kamara to his mother.
Once again, let me reiterate that no child and infact, no person even above the age of 18 years concerned with the events at my ministry, had been in need of securing any Bail from the New England police station that night of Friday January 27th 2017.
The wild anger and venom of those who attacked me on the phone that night is simply because they had seen the failure to portray me as someone who is hated by Children of Sierra Leone. The lies that I beat & wounded children have all been exposed and they were angry. The threats to stab me and kill me; should I attempt to go to my office to hold the national dialogue with children, is because they did not want me to speak out. The attempt to prejudice the ongoing trial of Ibrahim Kallon is therefore questionable and unfortunate. Quoting from Whitney Houston is yet another subliminal attempt to tell the public that the well-being of Children of Sierra Leone were under threat. This is all dirty, dirty politics.
Ibrahim Kallon is not facing the courts because he is a Child Advocate. Ibrahim Kallon is in court to defend himself of allegations that he has threatened to kill, he has defamed, he has fought uniformed police officers trying to protect children and he has been insulting. Ibrahim Kallon is not facing the courts because of matters to do with Children so why did Madam Fatmata Hanciles quote Whitney Houston’s words about safeguarding Children in that her unfortunate Press Release? Think about this Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.