From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Thumbs Up for Jonathan Leigh!
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Jan 20, 2010, 17:22

It was Jonathan Leigh the veteran journalist who first told the world that I was a rising star to be watched. It was June 1994 and I had just set a record in Sierra Leone by becoming the first woman to be elected as President of a University of Sierra Leone Students’ Union body. Naturally, I was being feted on the front pages of all the local tabloids. Jonathan was then working at the Concord Times and he brought out a poignant piece which I appreciated more than all other articles. I was only 22 years old at the time but Jonathan had predicted what he foresaw about my future role in Sierra Leone. It really was an article I appreciated. So much that on rare times Jonathan’s pen would subsequently offend me, I could never bring myself to be upset with him. I truly appreciated his June 1994 article!

Today, sixteen years later, I find myself appreciating Jonathan Leigh more and more all the time. There are some recent articles he has penned down that have actually gotten me jumping out of my chair and hitting the air in appreciation! His recent one yesterday Tuesday 19th January 2010, addressed to the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General had that effect on me. I have made no secret of the fact that I deeply admire the current Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh but the fact remains that although no one has the right to directly blame her for what happens with files sent to different Magistrate Courts by the Police or Attorney-General, she is indeed in charge of the Judicial system that has aided President Koroma’s Press Secretary to keep my personal bodyguard, Kalilu Jalloh locked up behind bars at the Pademba Road prisons for well over three (3) months now! Thanks so much for raising this issue Jonathan Leigh!

It is not a non-bailable crime to use your boss’ Jeep, without her permission, to take some Nigerians to a Nigerian Independence Day celebration on the Beach but for that ostensible reason alone, my bodyguard has been behind bars since October 3rd 2009! My bodyguard will one day get to be released from that incarceration but does President Ernest Koroma or his surrogates really understand that such grave injustices caused the civil war to erupt in this country?

This is an issue that I have raised with AIG Western Area Chris Charley and with the CID Director M.B. Lappia. How can my bodyguard’s co-accused Nigerian citizens be charged in Court No. 1 for the exact same set of offences (including Dillet Street Robbery) that another group of Sierra Leonean citizens are facing charge for at Court No.4 ???? Neither Charley nor Lappia have been able to give cogent answers. Similarly, no-one at the Attorney-General’s Office!

I cannot raise the issue with the Chief Justice or with anyone in the Judiciary since that is a line I will never cross. I have too much respect for the integrity and independence of the Judiciary to attempt to privately enquire thus... So, let this unsavoury development play out in Open Court and may the chips fall where they may!

Meanwhile, whilst the wife, two children, aged mother, sisters, brothers, family and friends of my bodyguard, Kalilu Jalloh, have been patiently waiting, (WITH UTMOST RESPECT!!) for the Judiciary [Magistrate Stephen Conteh] to conclude this investigation as to whether my poor bodyguard is indeed an alleged Armed Robber alongside Nigerians, I have to let the world know just how much I appreciated Jonathan Leigh’s address of yesterday to the Judiciary and to the Attorney-General Serry Kamal.

Bravo Jonathan! That was another one for the books!

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.