From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

SLPP & APC Women Storm Law Courts
By Augustine Samba and Bampia Bundu
Jan 12, 2010, 17:20

The court matter of the State versus Sylvia Blyden on Monday 11th January 2010 took a different turn when women from the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party and the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) respectively as well as other non-partisan female activists, stormed the Law Courts building in solidarity with Sierra Leone’s only female newspaper publisher, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden.

The women, led by the Vice President of the APC National Women’s Congress, Madam Makalay Koroma (nee Kamara) and the Deputy National Women’s Leader of the SLPP, Madam Harriatu Turay, protested that the prolongation of the matter without progress was causing "more embarrassment" for the President of Sierra Leone and was "nothing but an insult to women of Sierra Leone", and thus called for an immediate discharge of the ongoing court case.

APC’s Makalay & SLPP’s Harriatu Embrace yesterday

Among the citizens who stormed the court yesterday with the display of solidarity placards in favour of Dr. Blyden, included representatives from various women’s groups and youth organizations from across the country including the famous Madam Neneh Umu Mackie who led a six man delegation from Koinadugu District. Neneh Umu Mackie recently made History when she became the very first woman in the whole of the Northern Province to beat male contestants and be elected as Chair of a District Youth Executive.

Meanwhile, the APC’s Madam Makalay Koroma told journalists during the peaceful protest that: "This matter has caused undue embarrassment for our President, his family and the APC led government of Sierra Leone. We are here to call on the Judiciary to discharge the matter without further delay, since the prosecution is just heaping embarrassment on the head of our poor President. They need to save our Leader from more embarrassment".

SLPP’s Harriatu Turay stated thus: "This is no political affair. We consider the prolongation of this matter as a deliberate attempt to embarrass the President and create undue pressure on Dr. Blyden who is a role model to so many Sierra Leone women. This matter, if allowed to continue, will smear the name of our President and his wife to the international community. We will not sit by and watch certain misguided elements humiliate a Woman of Substance who has contributed immensely to national development. The safety of all Sierra Leonean women will be at stake if we allow a woman like Dr. Sylvia Blyden to be victimized".

APC’s Chairlady of the Gbendembu Community, Sera Jalloh told journalists at the law courts premises that the "Gba Nya False Lady" brouhaha must come to an end. "Her Excellency Madam Sia Nyama Koroma is the only wife of the President and is therefore the only First Lady we know," she stated.

Yesterday marks the 14th appearance of the female newspaper publisher in court, since she was charged in May 2009 for allegedly publishing "false news" against the President. It is of significance to note that since last year, only a single witness has been cross-examined whilst the Presiding Magistrate, Steven Conteh, continues to turn down applications by the defence counsel for a discharge of the matter.

A visibly angry journalist has made it categorically clear yesterday that journalists were in possession of a massive amount of information that would aid the ongoing matter playing out at the courts but that out of a desire to protect certain people, they have been holding back in the hope that reason will prevail over sentiments.

"However, the combined factors of Executive dalliance to prosecute and the Judiciary’s refusal to discharge will leave us with no option but to realize that certain persons want us to disclose what we have in our possession but had never intended to disclose about this saga," one local journalist stated adding, "we will very soon start publishing information that we never wanted to publish".

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