From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Sierra Leone Female Traders angry over Lies by President's Press Secretary
By THE SENATOR NEWSPAPER (editted by Prince Kamara)
Oct 13, 2009, 22:19

Freetown, THE SENATOR NEWSPAPER (October 13th 2009): “If we have the opportunity, we will march straight to President Koroma at State House to tell him that we are not happy at all over the way and manner the name of our noble association is being lied upon and dragged into mud by The Torchlight newspaper, which we understand is owned by Sheka Tarawalie, President Koroma’s Press Secretary.” These were the words of Jatu Conteh, a very senior executive member of the Sani Abacha Women Traders’ Association. She was responding after reading an article in yesterday’s edition of The Torchlight newspaper that quoted the Association’s members using profanities against Publisher of Awareness Times newspaper, Dr. Sylvia Blyden.

Earlier, dozens of members of the Sani Abacha Women Traders’ Association converged at Awareness Times office situated at No. 17 Garrison Street in Freetown, to pledge their moral support to the paper’s Publisher Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden.

Their action came on the heels of libelous articles published in Sheka Tarawalie’s newspaper The Torchlight of yesterday Monday 12th October 2009, first on its front page titled “Sylvia Suspects Charged’ and second, ‘We Nor Want Baboo President’ published on page 7 of the same edition; in addition to a ‘spot the difference’ column depicting a photo of Dr. Blyden and a chimp accompanied by an article suggesting that the two are alike and that it was the women of Sani Abacha Street that had made the comparison.

In an earlier offending article on Sheka Tarawalie’s Torchlight newspaper of Wednesday 7th October 2009, it claimed among other things that Dr. Blyden’s black Jeep with Reg. No. ADA 453 had been apprehended on suspicion of it being used in armed robbery, and that the driver and bodyguard Mohamed Kujabi and Kalidu Jalloh respectively were arrested together with some Nigerians on suspicion of being armed robbers.

However, Police and CID investigators after a couple of days did not find any evidence to corroborate any armed robbery allegation and released the men on bail. The vehicle was also returned to its owner. Sheka Tarawalie’s Torchlight newspaper wrote yesterday however that “the Jeep with Reg No. ADA 453 is still kept by the Police at OSD headquarters, Brookfields in Freetown.”

This was found to be a total lie. This reporter saw Sylvia Blyden's jeep with Reg. No. ADA 453 plying Padema Road in Freetown yesterday morning and even spoke with the driver of the vehicle. But Sheka Tarawalie’s Torchlight newspaper erroneously publishes that “the Jeep, with Reg. No. ADA 453, is still kept by the police…”

In another such scurrilous story involving Dr. Blyden, Sheka Tarawalie’s Torchlight newspaper claimed to have sought the views of women at Sani Abacha Street. Yesterday’s Torchlight newspaper alleged among other things that “the women had composed songs which lyrics described ‘Sylvia’ in denigrating terms albeit published under a ‘satire’ column in the said newspaper.

The said article maintained that the Sani Abacha Sreet Women’s provoking of ‘Sylvia’ was because of the latter’s “preposterous posturing for the presidential candidacy –a story she placed in her friend’s paper,” The Torchlight went on to say that for this, “Sani Abacha Street Women rained insults on her (Sylvia) for even touting the idea.

However, in an interview yesterday with Sani Abacha Street Women’s President, Madam Fatu Conteh who spoke on behalf of her members, she denied ever having been involved in creating songs to ridicule Dr. Blyden. “At no time have we brought ourselves so low as to castigate our own kind for no just cause. The man (Sheka Tarawallie) who owns this paper (Torchlight) is a very big liar and we shall report him to President Koroma. He is not fit to be near our President because bad company corrupts good manners; and this Sheka is definitely bad company for our President. Only God will pay him for telling lies on us; and may God visit him with fire and brimstone for his wicked lies about us.”

Other women who expressed their anger and disgust over the Torchlight’s articles about Dr. Blyden were executive members of the Sani Abacha Street Traders, Madam Jatu Conteh and Miss Zainab Sesay. They said they too were shocked that the owner of the newspaper that carried that “rubbish” is owned by no other person than President Koroma’s Press Secretary, Sheka Tarawalie aka Shekito.

“Bo, dis man ya, ee dae gee we Preso bad name oh! Arata leke da wan dae nor go pwell we President en we Party. Befo dat, nar im fos go go,” one of them said in disgust. Meaning: “This man is giving our President a bad name. We cannot allow a small rat like him to destroy our President and our Party instead he will leave by force.”

When contacted to respond to the articles published in the Torchlight newspaper about her, Dr Blyden said she had dismissed the article as nonsense because she knew how close she and the Abacha Street Traders are. She however said the entire Nation is surprised that Mr. Tarawalie is being allowed to continue abusing his office and in the process dragging State House into a mess.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.