From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Sierra Leone Police Start Massive Manhunt for Local Journalists
By By Edward Kargbo (Special Assistant to Sylvia Blyden)
May 16, 2009, 18:22

The Sierra Leone Police has issued out a Press Release warning the public that it was on a massive, nation-wide manhunt for two local journalists accused of publicising the name of the President's girlfriend. One pro-Government radio station which translated the Release into the local languages, warns that anyone caught 'harbouring' any of these two Sierra Leoneans, Sylvia Olayinka Blyden and Abdul Karim Kabia, might get to be shot on sight and if they lived to survive, they will be then additionally charged with aiding and abetting fugitives from justice. However, lawyers acting for the two local journalists have informed that as far back as the day when the invitation letters were dropped, they had immediately contacted the Police and made an agreement with the Head of the Police CID and Investigating Officers that the two journalists would make themselves available for questioning in the morning hours of Tuesday May 19th 2009 when they were expected to return back to the Freetown jurisdiction. The threatening tone of the Police Release issued today is therefore seen as being most unethical because it reneges on a previous arrangement without first contacting the Lawyers for the journalists and in the process, such an act takes away from the trust that Lawyers should be able to develop in the word of senior Police officers. It is believed that the Police have reneged on their previous agreement based on 'threats from above'. Meanwhile, below is a News Release from a Special Assistant to Dr. Blyden.

Kailahun Article in Public Interest

By Edward Kargbo (Assistant to Sylvia Blyden)

Let me first state that even as the Sierra Leone Police publicised over National Radio that an Arrest Warrant had been issued for the Publisher of the Awareness Times Newspaper, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, it should be made clear to all concerned that immediately upon a Police Invitation being dropped off at her offices last week, Blydens lawyers from Brewah & Co. Chambers had respectfully contacted all the Police Investigators to inform that Blyden was out of the jurisdiction but would be back in Freetown on Tuesday May 19th 2009 to face police questioning over her article about Kailahun happenings.


However, despite the assurance of the Police given to Blydens lawyers that they would wait to question Blyden on her return, they have now shockingly issued this Arrest Warrant following which they ransacked all her private business houses thus seriously disrupting her sales. Over one dozen police officers with weapons harassed her customers and then dragged off her Business Managers to the Slater Terrace CID Police HQs where they were kept against their will and warned to shut down the doors of the various private businesses until further notice. These private businesses have no links with the newspaper except that they are all owned by Sylvia Blyden, a prolific, independent Sierra Leonean woman of substance.


Meanwhile, Blyden has stated that her May 12th 2009 article on a situation in the Eastern Kailahun district which has sparked off the ongoing saga, was published in the interest of the public especially the residents of Kailahun. Contrary to some perceptions that the article was published merely to reveal the name of an alleged female friend of the President, Blyden insists that the article was to raise an alarm that certain persons were trying to pass off a woman, who was not a State functionary, as the First Lady of the Republic.


The people of Kailahun were being fooled into welcoming a woman who was not the First Lady but who was being portrayed as such, Sylvia Blyden wrote in a two paged article published last Friday.


She continued to explain how she learnt about the pending visit with the following words:

Kailahun Chairman Tom Nyuma telephoned me all the way from Kailahun to ask me if my newspaper knew about the alleged pending visit of President Koromas wife, First Lady Sia Koroma. Now, my newspaper is virtually the only newspaper known in Kailahun District as we are the only ones who send copies in on a daily basis to all major towns so Kailahun knows we regularly cover articles written by the Communications Unit of the First Ladys Office. It was in that vein that Tom Nyuma called me to ask me if I was aware of the First Ladys planned visit for Friday 15th May 2009. According to Tom Nyuma, both the Local Unit Commander of the Sierra Leone Police and the Local Radio Station Manager as well as Chiefdom Authorities had informed him of the First Ladys visit but he was disappointed that he had not been officially informed seeing he was the Head of the Districts Local Government.


Sylvia Blyden then went on to explain how further investigations by Chairman Nyuma revealed the hoax to fool Kailahun residents. She also recounted other issues surrounding the mix-up and insisted that, what she published was a very well sourced story on an issue that was of importance to the public especially the people of Kailahun who had been preparing to receive what was clearly an impostor.


According to Blyden, this was an issue that was hotly in the interest of the Public who deserved not to be presented with any Fake First Lady but the real one at all times.


She also insisted that neither the First Lady herself nor members of the Opposition were behind the article published. Instead she blamed State House Press Secretary, Mr. Sheka Tarawalie, for using language that was unbecoming of an official working at the seat of power, State House.


If President Koromas Press Secretary, Shekito, can call a woman of my standing in this country, a common whore using the same email he uses to email out Press Releases for the President and get away with it through an abuse of State Powers (nolle prosequi) only for him to repeat the same action again a year later with even worse adjectives against me as a woman, then! she conjugated.


Sylvia Blyden, who has always made no secret of her own eventual, personal Presidential ambitions and who remains the youngest ever Sierra Leonean to lead a registered national political party to Elections, (The YPP during the 2002 Elections), described the Office of the President as a sacred office which other people will one day occupy and so she denounced the employment therein of what she termed as hoodlums who insult decent women without compunction.


In reference to recent newspaper articles littered with four lettered words against her person, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, the erudite, confident and well composed female Role Model in the society stated that she did not care about other newspapers using their freedom of expression to publish four lettered words however she asserted that like many Sierra Leoneans, she definitely cared about what originates from our sacred Office of the President and those working therein.


Meanwhile, the police continue to harass and intimidate customers at Sylvia Blydens businesses. These interrupted businesses, have nothing to do with Blydens newspaper but however provide employment and a means of sustenance for young men and women in this harsh environmental climate.


This harassment is just intimidation by State functionaries and is a minus on the democratic credentials of the Ernest Koroma regime in Sierra Leone, one of the young Business Managers angrily stated after being physically molested by State Police Officers for no other reason except that he was gainfully employed by a prolific, industrious and illustrious daughter of Sierra Leone, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden who is currently assisting numerous young Sierra Leoneans fighting to survive in a very, very harsh economic environment.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.