Breaking News: Sierra Leone’s former social welfare minister – Dr Sylvia Blyden arrested

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 May 2020:

Sources close to the family of Dr  Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, who is the former social welfare minister in the Koroma led APC government, have confirmed in the last hour that Dr Blyden has been arrested by armed police officers, who arrived at her residence this morning at  Cockle Bay in the far West of the capital Freetown.

This latest development follows the arrest of the wife of the former minister of defence – Retired Major Palo Conteh two nights ago in Freetown.

Palo Conteh has been charged with treason, and is  in custody after allegations that he went to State House for a meeting with the president carrying a gun.

As political tension mounts in the country in the last few days, there have been calls on social media by several ruling SLPP party operatives for the arrest of  Dr. Blyden whom they regard as a fierce critic of the Bio led government.

Three days ago, the country’s deputy internal affairs minister  –  Lahai Lawrence Leema made threatening statements about the possible arrest of Dr Blyden.

Just yesterday, the SLPP chairlady for the party’s Women’s wing – fatmata Sawaneh warned Dr Blyden in a recorded audio message published this morning by the Sierra Leone Telegraph, that life could be made difficult for Dr Blyden and others regarded as ‘subversives’.

And, just hours after publishing that audio message, Dr Blyden  was this morning visited by truck loads of armed special security forces and was arrested.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph understands that Dr Blyden (Photo) has been taken to the Criminal Investigations Department  in central Freetown for questioning.

But supporters of the opposition APC say that her arrest is a precurser for a major crackdown on political opponents in the country.

“This is not democracy, this is military-style dictatorship we now have in Sierra Leone, where the opposition cannot exercise freedom of speech and liberty to hold the government accountable without risking police arrest,”  a senior executive of the APC who is now in hiding told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.

“The three days coronavirus lockdown declared by president Bio last night is a crackdown smokescreen to facilitate the arrest of  opposition politicians using the State of Emergency that the country is now under. God help Sierra Leone,” he said.

Yesterday, Dr Blyden posted a message on Twitter informing her supporters that she understands that the deputy internal affairs minster was planning to silence her by arresting her.  But she told her supporters not to take any notice of that threat as she has done nothing wrong other than hold the government accountable through free speech.

It seems now that in Sierra Leone, freedom to criticise the government comes at a heavy price. Other opposition politicians are now in fear they may be next to be arrested.

Supporters of the opposition APC say that they are placing the international community on high alert for a major political crackdown in the country.

And in the last hour this message was published by the  Sierra Leone America Human Rights Foundation (SLAHRF) in Washington DC:

“We can officially confirm that Sierra Leone Police Officers have entered compound of Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden at Cockle Bay in Sierra Leone and are now banging on all her doors.

“We want it to be made known that she meant it when she said that she knew she was at risk under President Bio in a State of Emergency but safety of Sierra Leone is bigger than her self interest during this Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak. Hence she had made her endorsement of the proclaimed State Of Emergency.

“……….Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden two weeks ago (was) in front of the office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs when she went alongside colleague former ministers to advocate for the Human Rights of their detained former minister colleague, Alfred Palo Conteh, to be upheld whilst he was under detention.  May God bless you all in Sierra Leone.

“Signed by: President & Secretary General of the Sierra Leone America Human Rights Foundation (SLAHRF), Washington DC. Friday May 1st 2020 at 9:30am Sierra Leone Time.”

So far, there has been no comment or statement by officials in the Bio led government or the Sierra Leone police about Dr Blyden’s arrest.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph will bring you more on this developing story as it unfolds.

14 Comments

  1. Oh my God!!!…I’m afraid for my people in Sierra Leone…I’m really getting scared. At this trend and the way things are going, I am getting nervous right now for my country as am typing this comment.

  2. Interesting development. Not sure exactly what her crime is, however, her critical stance towards the regime made her a target from the onset. I am not sure if this regime is aware that Sierra Leone is a democracy, where the constitution enshrines the freedom to express opinion and hold a sitting government accountable. The Bio regime must come to term with the fact that, using dictatorial tactics of arresting and silencing critics along with opposition figures will never yield good fruits. Enough already, our nation has been heading in a slippery slope for a long time now. We must step on the break before we head over a Cliff.

  3. This Government has really come to destroy Sierra Leone’s peace and stability. Sylvia Blyden is the finest Journalist ever in Sierra Leone.

  4. No condemnation of the loss of lives and properties from instigated violence perpetrated against the State. Since the lawful arrest of Paolo Conteh, some members of the APC have been calling for political violence in this country and if possible to burn down Pademba Road and free him by force. What about the Human Rights of the peaceful citizens that want to respect Law and Order in this country, who is defending them??

    Mr. Wiecha – Nazism is on the rise in Germany, we are awaiting for the International Community to step in!!

  5. The battle lines are drawn. To every action,there is equal and opposite reaction. Unfortunately.

  6. You are right Tamba. God bless you. They are now attempting to arrest and intimidate every indomitable APC member or official, miscalculating that they will win the next generation election, through arresting and intimidating IRON LADIES like Dr. Sylvia Blyden and Mrs Conteh. It’s going to be a long struggle for them, because they have to arrest almost 50 percent of the population of Sierra Leone backing the INDOMITABLE APC. They are making things worse for themselves.

    This is why the Bio Administration, more than two years on, could not flood the country with investors. No one can invest in a country that is about to be plunged into chaos and anarchy by a reckless regime and heading towards a failed state. It’s not just going to happen. As you rightly said Tamba, it’s win second term or revert to war. But, that is not going to happen. Their butts will be kicked out of power in 2023. PERIOD. There is no other way out for them. If you arrest one Dr. Sylvia Blyden, many more Dr. Sylvia Blydens will be made.

    They are just playing CHICKEN political games to cover up the disastrous so called “self organised Pademba Road Prisons Riot”. Dr. Sylvia Blyden is a very strong IRON LADY with a big heart, not only the people in Sierra Leone are behind her, but the whole world is behind her. God protect Dr Sylvia Blyden, give her strength and keep her strong. Arrest and Intimidation will never make JUNTA PART III win a second term. Mark my words as Tamba rightly Said. God bless Tamba Baku eh and the APC party.

  7. Her arrest is long overdue. She has been inciting the public against the people of Sierra Leone. So yes if true,she should be rent free at clarkson house in jumper suit

    • I guess expressing your opinion as clearly enshrined in our nation’s constitution has suddenly become a crime. May i remind you that our nation is a democracy? Did the previous APC government arrest any opposition figure simply for being critical of their government? Some of you extremist supporters need to be called out and should be ashamed of yourselves for inflaming hatred in our nation. How dare you, thinking tyrannical ruling is the solution to our mirage of problems.

  8. Terrible, I fear for the people of Sierra Leone. Under this state of emergency (1 year!) because of corana virus (?) There are signs of dictatorship again. The international community and the AU must step in.

    • We the peoples of Sierra Leone need law and order to prevail. Some elements of the opposition parties don’t want to observe law and order under the new SLPP Government. Since the election there had been sabotage in most all the ministries as the Government is trying to put in place a Government of national unity. This opposing element don’t want accountability and the government revenue and country resources were looted for many many years. All Sierra Leonean must give President Bio a chance to Govern Sierra Leone. Therefore, majority of we the Sierra Leonean are tired of the lawlessness.

  9. They are desperately preparing for their second term or else revert to war, mark my words, they are testing the waters….

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