Breaking News – Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden and Muckson Sesay are free on bail

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 May 2020:

She is out on bail at last. After spending over three weeks in police detention without charge, and only to be taken to court a few days ago to answer to a ten-counts charge – ranging from seditious libel against the president to perverting the course of justice, Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden has this afternoon been released on bail.

She was set free but university student and child rights activist –  Hussain Muckson Sesay, who was arrested for allegedly publishing a photo of Dr Blyden being interrogated by CID officers – a charge he continues to deny, will be released tomorrow or Monday.

There was excitement in court yesterday, when it was reported that Lawyer Melron Nicol-Wilson, acting for both Blyden and Sesay had secured bail for the pair.

But this excitement quickly turned into disappointment for supporters, friends and families of Blyden and Sesay, when Magistrate Hannah Bonnie demanded stricter than usual bail terms and conditions, including the demand that each accused must have two sureties who are property owners in the Western Area of Sierra Leone – with each property valued at 500 million Leones (about $50,000); and for each surety to produce their passport, the conveyance document and valuation certificate of their property.

Both were sent back to prison yesterday, after failing to find suitable sureties at short notice.

But this afternoon, their fortunes changed and the prayers of supporters, families and friends were answered. They have both been granted bail.  (Photo below: Dr Blyden and lawyer Melron celebrate Blyden’s long walk to freedom).

Speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, Human Rights campaigner – Mr Messeh Leone  said: “Authorities in Sierra Leone must now drop all the charges against Dr Blyden and Muckson. The  charges against them stem directly from their work as journalists, activist and peaceful citizens. This activity should not be punishable and is part of their professional capacity.

“The Public Order Act No 46 of 1965 is outdated and not fit for purpose. Dictatorial government officials use the Public Order Act laws mainly against journalists and activists and the prospect of their use instils fear in the minds of people across the country. There is an urgent need to end the tyrannical criminal defamation laws, which unduly restrict freedom of expression. There are calls in Sierra Leone for the repeal of Part V of the 1965 Public Order Act dealing with libel laws. We want real victory for Unity, for Freedom, for Justice.”

Two days ago, Messeh Leone and his Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in partnership with the Pipul Pikin Campaign Network, organised a press briefing on the Sylvia Blyden and Muckson Sesay case, which was aired live on AYV television, Zoom, Facebook and other media platforms, with the editor and publisher of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas demanding an end to the 1965 Public Order Act and calling on the Sierra Leone Association  of Journalists to actively consult with local journalists to produce a Media Code of Conduct that will satisfy the requirements of parliamentarians who are looking to repeal the 1965 Act but faced with the delimma of “irresponsible journalists” taking advantage of the repealing of the Act.

More than 30 local and international journalists took part in Wednesday’s press conference.

Speaking on behalf of the Blyden family, Mrs Sylvia Jolliminah Blyden – the mother of Dr. Sylvia Blyden, spoke passionately about the life and career of her daughter and called on the government to respect her human rights.

During the press conference, Messeh Leone confirmed to the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph that, lawyers acting for Muckson Sesay are set to go to ECOWAS Court, demanding compensation of USD 500,000 for human rights violations by the Republic of Sierra  Leone, and a call for his immediate release.

“In a letter seen by the Pipul Pikin Network, dated 26th May 2020 and copied to Hussain Muckson Seasy, prominent international human rights lawyer Melron Nicol-Wilson has notified the Attorney –General and Minister of Justice Dr Priscilla Schwartz, that he will be instituting proceedings at the ECOWAS Court, against the Republic of Sierra Leone on the instructions of Child Right Activist, Hussain Muckson Seasy, a student of FBC, presently incarcerated at the Correctional Centre in Freetown.

“The reliefs being sought included a (1) declaration that his arrest by the Sierra Leone Police is a violation of section 17 (1) and 20 (1) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No 6 of 199, as amended, and article 6 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of 1981; 2) a Declaration that his detention from the 3rd of May 2020 by the Sierra Leone Police and the Correctional Centre is unlawful and violation of his rights as guaranteed by articles 4,5, and 7 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of 1981; 3) an order mandating the government of Sierra Leone and its agent to immediately release him from custody; and 4) payment of the sum of Five Thousands United States Dollars (USD 500,000) to him, being compensation for the violation of his right to human dignity, liberty, fair hearing, trauma, subjected to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment while in detention, and for loss of earning and education”.

The press conference ended with a reminder of a campaign fund raising initiative that has been established in support of the work of Dr Sylvia Blyden, in campaigning for democracy, civil liberty and human rights in Sierra Leone.

Messeh Leone said: “Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden urgently needs your help to campaign for her freedom and the freedom of everyone in Sierra Leone. Please donate today. Please also share this appeal widely and encourage others to donate. Your contributions go solely to the campaign. The donations are fully audited by independent auditors, the Blyden Family, and the Campaign Team for #FreeDrBlyden, which is the only official group endorsed by Dr Sylvia Blyden. Monies raised will be used for the campaign that promotes Dr Blyden’s work, not for personal expenses or legal fees.

“We are deeply concerned about the continued incarceration of Dr Sylvia Blyden, since 1st May 2020, in Freetown high-security prison under harsh conditions amid her deteriorating state of health, after she was “kidnapped” and “dragged’’ out of her family home in Freetown by armed security forces. The arbitrary arrest and the subsequent detention of Dr Blyden were connected to trumped-up charges brought against her by the government after she called on Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio to respect democracy, human rights, and to take more appropriate measures to tackle COVID 19, in the public interest.

“The establishment of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), following 11 years of bitter civil conflict, was appropriate, necessary and highly significant for the healing of a traumatised nation. The report of the TRC highlighted the government corruption during the years leading up to the conflict, the desecration of the constitution, the perpetuation of injustice and the pillaging of the country’s wealth.

“The Commission called upon the Ministry of Justice, including judges and lawyers, to defend the rule of law (paragraph 176 of the TRC). The Commission’s findings challenge us, as a nation, to learn from the past and to reinforce the belief that the past cannot, and must not, be forgotten. This is the time for the country to come together to promote a prosperous and united Sierra Leone guided by unity, freedom and justice. Everyone is needed to come on board and have a voice in the governance of the country, regardless of tribal and political affiliations.

“We note that Dr Blyden’s case has suffered from her falling-out with several people connected to the Government who view her as a threat for her efforts in speaking out against human rights abuses. At this point, personal feelings about Dr Blyden’s case must be put to one side. The far-reaching implications of this case have hugely significant implications for the future of the journalistic trade and for activism in the country. The actions taken by the Police and security forces may relate specifically to one woman’s situation but, should they succeed, they would set a terrible precedent.

“Please donate online via PayPal:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=EBYAEKGGWZ638&source=url

“Africel Money phone (SL): 088-862-018; and Orange Money phone (SL): 076-198-726”

Tonight, Dr Blyden is free from detention where, according to family sources they were both refused proper medical care and subjected to serious mental abuse and deprivations.

Muckson’s release was delayed to tomorrow or Monday, due to administrative lapses.

“Lawyer Melron Nicol-Wilson Esq has just confirmed that , in less than 24 hours,  Dr Sylvia Blyden and child right activist, Hussain Muckson Sesay have complied with all requirements for bail and approved by the Master and Registrar of the court. Dr Blyden is now on her way home safe and sound.  Unfortunately, Muckson will only be out tomorrow or next week as the male prison had closed for the day before the process was completed,” Pipul Pikin Network commented.

Their trial continues.

See video of Dr Blyden and lawyer Melron after her release today:

10 Comments

  1. Hey Fanday Turner, long time bro. Listen thanks for providing the link regarding the alleged assassination of Sitta Turay. I have quoted a couple of the main paragraphs below.

    “ An MFWA correspondent said that two men stormed Sitta Turay’s office and accused him of using his newspaper to serve the interest of the opposition by writing articles defaming the image of President Koroma. Alimamy Turay, a presidential photographer, and another APC supporter known only as “Tunde” then stabbed Sitta Turay in the head. The editor was hospitalised and later discharged.”………….“ Minister of Information Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo has assured the editor that he will be protected and appealed to him to come out of hiding.”

    Now clearly, based on this reporting, this incident was never state-sanctioned as misrepresented by Mr. Mansaray. Absolutely no police or state functionary were involved in the attack of Sitta Turay. The article specifically pointed the finger at two overzealous extremists, APC party supporters, who by all indications acted on their own volition. Contrary to silent observation of the Bio regime, when citizens are attacked by overzealous and extremist SLPP supporters as well as attack dog police officers, the then minister of information openly came out to sympathize with Mr. Turay’s ordeal, proving it was never condoned by the government.

    One last thing Mr. Turner, could you please help Mr. Mansaray to prove me wrong again on the issue of Daddy Saj? I will personally like to see you participating more often rather than showing up once in a blue moon to prove me wrong Mr. Turner. If my memory serves me, last time your presence was felt in this glorious forum was over 6 months ago, when again you wanted to prove me wrong on a comment I made pertaining to one of Dr. Banya’s articles.

  2. The number 40 is very symbolic – Throughout history, existence has used the number 40 to highlight extraordinary events,and moments of great trial,and tribulation;The great flood lasted for 40 days and nights,Moses spent 40 years of hardship in the desert before,he was chosen by Almighty God to lead the nation of Israel to the promise land,Our lord Jesus spent 40 days,and nights in the wilderness being mocked,and tempted by the the fallen angel,Satan;and it is said that Saul,David,and Solomon each separately,ruled their kingdoms for a contentious period of 40 years.Folks,make no mistakes,the number 40 always signifies an important period in our lives,and wherever it manifests itself in events connected to our lives,one needs too sit up,observe,and pay careful attention,as things keep on rapidly,or gradually unfolding.

    That time is now!40 unarmed prisoners slaughtered like helpless chickens,and no one is asking questions?What the hell is going on?where are the families of these people?Please do not be afraid to come out,and speak up for your loved ones,otherwise tyranny,will become more emboldened,like fire crackers,that transform themselves to munitions,and hand grenades.

    A season of trial is upon us!We need to hear from the families,and friends of those butchered by the criminal SLPP government in the Pademba road Prison riots,and please try to find photographs of these innocent people;lets put a human face on them,for they were our friends,and brothers.Amnesty International,and Human Rights Watch we need answers;we need to know how,and why our fellow citizens lost their lives.We need transparency,and accountability;and no matter how long it takes,we are going to get it – Better believe it!

  3. Alusine Fallay, in respecting honorable ART, today is your lucky day, I will give you a pass. Because when it comes to issues of credibility and fabrication of historical and contemporary events back home, I think most of the participants know who is who. So let sleeping dogs lie sir.

  4. Alaka Mansaray says “Her managing editor Mr Sita Turay was not that lucky. He was hunted and stabbed in the neck right in the city centre. He was left to die. His friends and family had to smuggle him out for treatment. Today he is in the USA.So why are you erroneously misrepresenting events and when you are called out, you want to go vulger?”

    By all indications, the only individuals misrepresenting events or being deceptive here is you Mr. Mansaray. At the onset, your limitation on reading and comprehension led you to misconstrue the phrase ‘by and large’ to mean ‘never occurred’. I was expecting an answer to my earlier question regarding the phrase, however, you opted to make more deceptions or misrepresentation. Now regarding Sylvia Blyden publishing a caricature of EBK, not only was she never arrested, it is NEWS to me that her editor was almost assassinated at the center of the city. It is baffling for authorities to chose to assassinate an editor of a newspaper found wanting, rather than the habitual procedure of being arrested or charged for libel. Come on Mr. Mansaray, do you really think this forum is full of villagers that you can just cook up a bunch of stories and they believe? Where was the news report regarding this assassination attempt? I am a fervent reader of news emanating back home and I can categorically state that I never come across such a story or news reporting.

    Throughout EBK first tenure, local artist including Daddy Saj operated in an open, non repressive environment, with artist like Emerson releasing series of songs targeting the EBK government, among them titled “yesterday better pas tiday”. Why is Emerson still in the nation? What critical song did Daddy Saj compose for him to have been chased out of town as purported by you Mr. Mansaray? You can choose to play deceptive games by making up incidents here and there throughout EBK’s 10 years tenure but the fact remains, with the exception of the period during Ebola when Tamba Mbayor and the college student you mentioned were arrested for expressing their freedom of speech. ‘By and large’ our citizens, including journalists enjoyed freedom compared to the current fear-mongering repressive PAOPA regime. Now if you want us to start listing names of citizens who had been arrested for simply expressing themselves during the 10yrs tenure of EBK in comparison to the past 2 years of Bio, be my guest bro.

  5. Is Mr Alusine Fallay trying to cross the red line? I hope Mr Alusine Fallay just concentrate on the issues and leave everyone else alone. Does it bother Mr Alusine Fallay when some forumites on this glorious platform exercise their rights to association? Let’s stay focused on the issues and stop this unnecessary grumbling and complaining Mr Alusine Fallay. Young4na is just fine with his responsible comments. God bless Mr Alusine Fallay and Young4na.

  6. Mr. Young4na, You have always tried to play the role of the moral guarantor of this Forum, by fact-checking every forumite with exception to your APC supporters. But unfortunately, I have personally observed that anytime you are caught with your pants down or saying something untrue, you always overreact with condescending comments and attitude. Please – “IF YOU LIVE IN A GLASS HOUSE DON’T THROW STONES.”

  7. I’m not really sure what triggered the BAIL RELEASE of Slyvia Blyden , but my wild guess will be – either the emotional appeal from her SWEET MOTHER or the spiritual appeal from IMAM Kandeh Yumkella of the NGC Party after the Eid Prayer. If the case is the latter, I hope that the NGC leader will use his influence in parliament to repeal or replace the law that President Bio and his cabinet have sent to parliament, but unfortunately is still gathering dust in shelves.

    Dr. Kandeh Yumkella should also try to convince Sylvia Blyden to join his party, which I personally believe will be the most credible opposition party to replace the SLPP party probably after 20 years. The link below is the main reason why Sylvia Blyden must desist from being a propaganda machine for the APC, just to fulfill their wishes of making our country ungovernable https://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/dr-sylvia-blyden-warns-president-koroma-and-his-ruling-apc/

  8. Physician know thyself – that is the only advice I would like to give to Dr Blyden at this moment. Lucky for you, lady, somehow, strangely you have managed to come out of this whole political fiasco unscathed thus far. What a blessing! Madam, seriously, know thine enemies, for they are not religious monks, but ruthless, merciless hunters with devious, sadistic, insatiable appetites that are only satisfied and appeased by ceaselessly preying on, stalking, seizing and slaughtering those who are unarmed, vulnerable and innocent.

    40 Prisoners dead and a whole nation is traumatized by fear, being held hostage to anxieties, neurosis and abject poverty, yet our development and global partners are silent, like abandoned cars in a junkyard without an engine or a horn, not uttering a sound. Now it is Paolo Conteh and Mr Williams’ turn to be freed. Who is willing to help them carry those heavy, backbreaking crosses on their tender, fragile shoulders, as they plod their way to a bloody crucifixion prepared by this criminal, wicked SLPP government? Opposition? Media? Anyone?

    Oh beloved, in chains and pains, our faces are stained with tears that fall like rain, but not in vain. Not in vain, for our veins run and run with courage that cannot be restrained. Surely we will see you guys alive, robust, free and thriving once again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.