Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 September 2019:
The Bankole-Thompson Commission of Inquiry (COI) which is looking into claims by the State that four children were beaten up by thugs on the orders of former social welfare minister – Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, whilst she was in office, will continue sitting next Monday, 30 September 2019, when Dr. Blyden will cross examine six more State Witnesses.
Last Wednesday, 25th September 2019, the Commission heard State Witness – Edmond Alim B. Fornah, being cross-examined by Dr. Sylvia Blyden who is personally representing herself at the Commission, as he floundered and changed his testimony during intense cross examination.
The Commission heard of a press conference called a little over eight years ago, wherein Edmond Fornah had publicly claimed that at the then-tender age of 14 years, he was cruelly, viciously, and mercilessly beaten up by Presidential Guards attached to Former First Lady Sia Koroma who had allegedly dragged him out of the waiting area of the former First Lady and beat him until he lost consciousness.
He also said that after beating him unconscious at tender age of 14 years, the guards of the former First Lady then threw his lifeless body in to thick bushes, growing outside the presidential lodge compound.
Cross examined by Dr. Blyden, Edmond Alim B. Fornah was asked to explain how the said incident of alleged merciless beating of a 14 years old child at the Presidential Lodge had been handled by the Government back then. To this question, Fornah alleged that he had been “denied justice” after such merciless beating.
He also told the Commission that in the same way the four alleged victims have allegedly been denied justice after allegedly being beaten up at Ministry of Social Welfare, is exactly the same way he was denied justice after he was allegedly brutalised to unconsciousness by the former presidential guards right inside the Presidential Lodge.
It was after Edmond Fornah had made his allegations of being brutalised in the Presidential Lodge that Dr. Blyden reminded him of how he, as a so-called “victim of merciless child beating by guards of the Presidential Lodge”, had in fact given several Meritorious Awards to the Former President and First Lady during which Edmond Fornah had described President Koroma and Sia Koroma loftily as protectors and promoters of the rights of Children for several consecutive years, after the alleged incident of 2011.
Dr. Blyden then asked the State Witness if he wanted anyone to take him seriously as a credible person, if after receiving such an alleged brutal beating and then denied justice, he still went on to give meritorious awards for child rights to the former First Lady Sia Koroma and former President Ernest Koroma.
In reply, Edmond Fornah told Justice Bankole Thompson that he does want the Commission to believe that he was indeed a credible witness.
Dr. Blyden told the State Witness that the similarity between his claims of what took place in 2011 and claims of child beating in 2016, which is now being investigated, points to the strong possibility that it was indeed the State Witness himself – Edmond Fornah who had spoon-fed utter lies that four children have made, claiming that they were also mercilessly beaten up and then denied justice.
In another interesting twist at the Commission last Wednesday, Edmond Fornah’s cross-examination revealed to the Bankole Thompson Commission of Inquiry that Fornah had personally on behalf of his organisation, awarded Dr. Sylvia Blyden – the MOTHER OF THE YEAR 2016 award, a short while before he went on the rampage claiming that Dr Blyden beat up the four children.
State Witness Fornah was unable to explain how someone awarded as ‘Mother of Year 2016’ can suddenly go on to instigate the beating of four children in that same year – 2016. The State Witness had actually awarded three meritorious awards to Blyden towards the end of the year 2016. Two of them, including the award as MOTHER OF THE YEAR 2016, were tendered to the Bankole Thompson Commission of Inquiry.
At this point, Dr. Blyden referenced a series of tendered documents ranging from UNICEF letter forwarded against her to State House by the former Foreign Minister and APC 2018 Presidential Candidate Dr. Samura Kamara, letters from the former Secretary to President Osho Coker and her own letter reacting to Samura Kamara’s forwarded letter for the attention of President Koroma in which Blyden re-asserted her insistence on dishonesty, deceit and corruption taking place at UNICEF in collaboration with certain local Sierra Leonean government officials.
Blyden asked the State Witness whether he saw any link between the date of the UNICEF Complaint (December 20th 2016) forwarded by Samura Kamara against her, the incident of 15th December 2016 that UNICEF complained, and the “sudden change” in how the Witness and certain others started attacking Blyden with all sorts of claims starting from December 21st 2016 attack on FM98.1 Radio and continuing into December 28th 2016 claims of children being mercilessly beaten up.
The State Witness however said he saw no link in the dates, prompting many in the audience murmuring in disbelief. But some observers said that it cannot be a coincidence for Dr Sylvia Blyden to suddenly start facing such deep opprobrium at that particular point that Foreign Minister Samura Kamara allegedly connived with UNICEF leadership against his fellow Cabinet Minister colleague – Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden.
The COI hearing was adjourned to next Monday, 30 September 2019, when Dr. Blyden will cross examine six more State Witnesses.