Dr Sylvia Blyden arrested as US government signs multi-million dollar grant aid with president Bio

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 December 2020:

After over a decade of trying to win the US Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) major grant funding award, which for many African countries run into hundreds of millions of dollars, Sierra Leone has at long last succeeded.

It is not yet clear how much exactly the MCC has awarded Sierra Leone but there are reports in Freetown that the government will be receiving a whopping $400 million.

A statement published by the US embassy in Freetown today did not specify the exact sum, but this is what it says:

Demonstrating the United States’ commitment to helping lead the fight against global poverty, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) Board of Directors selected Sierra Leone for an MCC compact program – a multimillion dollar grant agreement – on Tuesday, December 15, 2020.

“The compact program will follow the successful $44 million threshold agreement between MCC and Sierra Leone that is currently improving water and electricity services in the greater Freetown area.

“Since MCC’s inception, MCC has invested more than $13 billion in economic growth projects around the globe that are expected to benefit about 190 million people. The US government agency invests in projects that drive growth and help people lift themselves out of poverty, like power, education, clean water, land rights, and roads.

“Once a country is selected for compact development, the partner country leads a constraints analysis that determines which sectors are limiting economic growth.

“This analysis is then used by partner countries to design the compact programs and tackle these constraints.  The final investment amount will depend on the strength of the projects and their ability to support long-term economic growth in the selected country.

“The U.S. government and the Sierra Leone government are committed partners in Sierra Leone’s economic growth.   Since 2012, the government of Sierra Leone and MCC have worked closely together to support good governance and reducing poverty through economic growth.

“MCC looks forward to continued collaboration with the government of Sierra Leone and to launching the compact development process.

But there are questions tonight about the sincerity of president Bio in abolishing the seditious libel laws which criminalise anyone who makes public statements against the government, as opposition female politician and journalist – Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden was this afternoon arrested by dozens of heavily armed police after surrounding her home in Freetown.

Today’s arrest goes against the spirit and substance of the government’s avowed belief in freedom of speech and civil liberty – key tenets of the US Millennium Challenge Corporation’s grant funding programme.

Dr Blyden was arrested on charges of seditious libel early this year and was kept in prison for several weeks without trial, before appearing in court on several occasions without any tangible evidence brought forward by State prosecutors to corroborate their charges.

Sources close to Dr Blyden say that she has been arrested today after a local newspaper – Awareness Times – of which she was editor and proprietor, yesterday published a frontpage story accusing president Bio of lying to the people of Sierra Leone and the international community, about the true reason as to why she was arrested early this year.

Critics of the Bio-led government are today saying that by awarding $400 million to president Bio, the US government is rewarding bad behaviour – human rights abuse and poor governance in Sierra Leone.

It is not clear whether Dr Blyden will spend the night – and possibly the whole of Christmas behind bars yet again, in what is being described by many as “government retributive justice” based on orders from above.

Sierra Leone’s seditious libel laws may no longer exist in the statute books, but arbitrary police arrests, based on orders from above, continue with impunity.

8 Comments

  1. Thank you so much Madam Sylvia’s activist. Well done, but it is totally wrong to attack this way. The SLPP government we know today is quite different from the previous APC government that ruled for the past 11 years. This governmentt is not currently paying mortgages for any family members and friends abroad, could they? The current ruling party inherited a mess from APC party in which Dr. Sylvia was employed as a minister of social welfare. Let us speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Let the commission of inquiry speak for itself, we get too many critiques and eloquent writers in this noble platform, but it is rare to see them criticizing the past administration led by EBK. Ernest B. Koroma defies the written law that he left in office before his departure, refuses to obey the law, acting as if he is above the law of the land; who said something about that?. Let us comment here with fair, firm and consistent. Sierra Leone is for all.

    I can name about seven houses in Freetown that I know, which H.E Ernest Bai Koroma purchased w3ith our money, people are suffering, dying, both mudslide and Ebola donated funds nobody knows how they spent it, the victims were wrongfully victimized by APC government; that is why they were kicked out of power. Can you comment about this?. If the SLPP government acts in the same way, trust me we will kick them out as well come 2023, we are watching them.

  2. Life in Sierra Leone is all about political divide and self interest. Politicians seem not to understand the values of what the underlined statement representation means. The masses of this nation are no longer important like the politicians they voted for. Politicians have made politics an avenue to make their gains and ignore an acknowledgement of the values the masses deserve. Prosperity is a term that has no value for those who are amassing wealth through the hard labour of tax payers money. All what we are seeing now is a battle for supremacy and who is right, when the average Sierra Leonean knows all. The case between Sylvia and the government is not a new era of politics because we all know that that is the beauty of democracy to gain. As for my own opinion I think our politicians are not on the right course

  3. We should stop this kind of politics and follow better ideas from our fellow compatriots who have created roads of economic change in less than four years. Let’s look and copy from countries like Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana. A growth of a country lies in the hands of a leader who believes in unity, gives freedom and right to expression, passionate to the unreached ones, accommodate regional equity, say no to tribal sentiment, avoid being rich through tax-payers money, allow independent access to institutions who serve as a pivot point to nation growth, creates an avenue of inclusion and last of all respect the rule of law and the coat of arms which indicates UNITY, FREEDOM AND JUSTICE.

    • The only thing that can heal or save Sierra Leone right now is a change of Government, as the country has been suffering ever since this Bio led government took over. All what they care for is themselves and friends and family. The poor citizens have been left to suffer. People are starving to death. No light, no education, no health care. Even the water contracts in the community, the jobs are not done properly. Donations are given to the country and all is being diverted to somewhere else. We need a honest leader with transparency who can work and put Sierra Leone first. We don’t need a leader with excess baggage – People that are not elected into government to run the government. It is very sad and we are feeling very concerned about Sierra Leone.

  4. Madam popular constantly looking for popularity all the time, congratulations! You know what? This woman became a self employed, seeking for the whole world attention not only Sierra Leone. She has messed herself up on Facebook some 72 hrs ago. I thought that this woman could have learnt some lessons but not. I used to shared my piece of advice to her on this noble platform to be quiet. I don’t think she’s actually thinking about the betterment of this country.

    The US agency that organized the (MCC) aid are not sleeping monitoring, you have to acknowledge this. These guys won’t throw away their millions of dollars just like that. You think making money in US is easy? You’re joking my friend – go join them and see how hard it is, making money in the United States. Dr. Blyden, you’re not an iron lady and you won’t be. APC will never appoint or select you as their flag bearer come 2023 period. BLOW NAW

    • Madam Sylvia has been there for all of you lot. She has been deprived of her rights as a citizen, locked up for no reason. When she says something against the bad governance of her country she gets arrested and molested. What has she done. Well at least she is not a thief. People should be left to exercise their rights as citizens.

      Do you know the amount of trash they throw on prime ministers and presidents around the world, but not an attempt to arrest them. No citizen is free in Sierra Leone to talk, they will just come and arrest you. Someone came from America with her mum and got arrested at the Airport and locked up. Why? I don’t think that is fair to anyone.

  5. Let’s approved the core values of democracy for the world not to hold us accountable. We should also prepare a platform for generation yet unborn.

    • I had hoped that Sierra Leone would be a prosperous nation during the years of governance from 2007 to 2018. However, immediately there was a change of government, this country was already wallowing in abject poverty. It will take time to reach the people’s aspirations.

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