Bamine Charlie Boye: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 June 2020:
Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden is a household name in Sierra Leone. Politics aside, she has single-handedly helped more youths and women in Sierra Leone, from her personal resources, than any current active politician.
For Dr Blyden, serving humanity is a calling—and she has answered it well. I can still remember in 2005 when she opened the first ever 24hrs Internet café in Freetown. This café didn’t only give countless opportunities to young people—many who are in position of trust today—but it also provided job opportunities.
Dr. Blyden is a born philanthropist and an activist. Oh, should I also mention that she’s the only female newspaper publisher in the country.
One thing that is very clear about Dr. Blyden is that she speaks things as they are. Her truth-telling is undiluted. And when she says something, be rest assured that it is authentic. She doesn’t dwell on fake news, hence that’s why when she posts on her social media handles or writes an article, she has evidence to support all her claims.
In recent time, her truth-telling crusade has made people within the government uncomfortable. But, the good thing is, we live in a democratic society —oops! Should I say a democratic society on paper? Anyway, that’s another topic of discussion for another day.
Since her truth-telling and constructive criticism have become unbearable to folks within government, she was put on the raider, and everything she was saying or writing was being scrutinized because they were trying so hard to nail her. But, one thing they failed to realize is that Dr. Blyden is not only a creative writer, but also very careful when she writes so that she won’t be implicated for any libellous act.
Dr. Blyden is not a lawyer, but she’s well abreast with the laws of the land. The kidnapping, detention, and trumped-up charges against Dr. Blyden is a big shock to many right-mind-thinking Sierra Leoneans — both home and abroad. But, it’s not a shock to those who dislike her truth-telling. To them, Dr. Blyden is a distraction. Why? Because she always exposes their lies and propaganda.
So, the best thing was to arrest her. And they succeeded in doing so. Prior to her arrest, she was very vocal on the way the government was handling the Covid-19, especially as regards the identification of infected persons and contact tracing. She was also vocal about the treatment a certain former government minister, who’s standing treason trial, was facing in jail. These things all triggered more anger and outrage which led to her receiving threats.
It’s on record that the sitting Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs threatened Dr. Blyden with an arrest; and also the current National Women’s Leader of the ruling party, SLPP, doubled down on the threat.
Not too long after these threats, Dr. Blyden was unfortunately kidnapped by truck loads of Police officers. After her kidnapping, she spent twenty-two days in police custody which went far above the stipulated time frame the constitution calls for. She was sexually harassed – her female organ being searched, without consent, for a cell phone that never existed.
Furthermore, they raided her private residence twice, also without her consent, for evidence which never existed. At the end, no evidence was found. So in shame, they brought up trumped-up charges against her. And all are related to social media posts. They tried so hard to charge her with subversion, but they couldn’t because Dr. Sylvia Blyden is a law-abiding citizen.
After several weeks in police custody, she was later granted bail, hoping that they had finally succeeded in “shutting her up”. Few days later, her bail was revoked, and she was sent back to jail. The reason: she allegedly broke the bail condition(s). False!
The charges against Dr. Blyden are ridiculous, and her charge-sheet clearly exposed the system’s bitterness and hatred towards her! Folks feel threatened because she was hitting the right spots.
Dr. Blyden has endured a lot. Her human rights have been violated. But, one thing that’s clear is that: this too shall come to pass. And I hope, by now, people know that power doesn’t last forever.