Dr Sylvia Blyden’s case adjourned without bail

Sierra Leone Telegraph Court Reporter: 12 June 2020:

Sierra Leone’s former minister of social welfare in the Koroma-led APC government – Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, today appeared at the Magistrate court in Freetown after spending almost six weeks in detention.

She was arrested on the 1st of May 2020, by heavily armed police who broke into her house, after allegations by the government that she had published comments on social media about the president’s frequent trips abroad, as well the appalling conditions in which the former head of the military – Retired Major Palo Conteh is being kept in prison.

According to the Sierra Leone Telegraph’s Court Reporter, Dr Blyden, who is charged with ten counts of seditious libel and subversion, appeared in court this morning where she questioned the veracity and legality of some of the charges filed by the Attorney General against her.

Addressing the court through the magistrate, Dr Blyden exposed the legal fitness of the Honourable Attorney General when Blyden asked for Count 7 of the libel charges as filed by the Attorney General to be thrown out, as it is deemed to be legally defective. (Photo: Former social welfare minister – Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden). 

The charge sheet signed by the Attorney General and presented in court, states that evidence shows Dr Blyden is to be charged with libel in pursuant to Section 34 of the Public Order Act of 1965.

But the same Section 34 says that nobody can be charged for libel under Section 33, if the publication is more than six months old.

Yet, according to the Attorney General, the evidence put forward by her in support of her Count 7 charge against Dr Blyden under Section 33 was a publication allegedly made 21 months ago in October 2018.

“How can this be justice,” a senior Judge speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, commented today.

According to the Sierra Leone Telegraph Court Correspondent, Dr Blyden today asked the Court to throw the matter out as far as Count 7 is concerned.

At this juncture in the proceedings, the Magistrate decided to adjourn the case for ruling on Wednesday, 17th June 2020.

Despite the magistrate promising at the last sitting to consider Dr Blyden’s bail request today, she instead sent Dr Blyden back to Prison for another five days.

The case continues.

9 Comments

  1. An Attorney General in personal union with the role of minister of justice depends on the President’s directives. How can you expect a fair, independent and unbiased trial and verdict? Obviously, the proceedings are conducted as a political witch hunt.

  2. I hope in the future, based on her current experience at the Pademba Road Prison, she will use her influence to advocate for all prisoners in our country to improve their conditions rather than for the conditions of only her APC comrades, who are accused of murdering a journalist or taking a loaded gun to the StateHouse. I do not really know if she is seeking attention or have no respect for our president, because in her little mind, although she was not a candidate for the 2018 presidential election, she was the only person that contested the presidential election in court. I hope she will start convincing the lifetime leader of the APC party, that she is interested in replacing Samura Kamara for the 2023 presidential election.

  3. Stargazer, this your dislikes can reduce very serious national discussion into silly ethnic and regional thing. What has the South got to do with the current leadership. You see why we may continue to be in this state of nonsense. Argue the matter and bin this tribalism. I’m mende from the south but not an SLPP. Do you want us to say that all creoles are bad or all limbas and Temmenes are hoodlums, even though many from these ethnicities are not APC? You went to school, please behave like one.

  4. Sierra Leone is still a republic of “YOU GO SOBAR”…YOU now see the reason why people are scared to speak out, even for their own freedom and liberty. Where has our national coat of arms(UNITY,FREEDOM JUSTICE) gone? to

  5. At the end of the day common sense should prevailed. Dr.Blyden seemed to be more versed in the law than the people that placed her on trial. All these trials taking place in our country is a deletion of duty by this President and his government. The president is elected to maintain peace and stability in the country. Over the past decades, Sierra Leoneans had gone through enough trauma; we just want to come out of this nightmare. The ordinary man and woman just want to know where their next meal is coming from. If you advocate division, look no further than what is happening in Libya, Burkina Faso. These are the two countries that trained and sponsored the RUF. We have been through what they are going through now. And we certainly do not want to go back there.

    What these political trials are doing, is sowing the seed of division in our country. I fear if we continue in this trajectory, with the impact of COVID19 of what the future holds. It is within the executive power of the president to bring this political crisis facing the country to an end. He should marshall in the support of the general public to fight this pandemic ravaging our country. He said he reached out to his opponents. That is all great and good. You can’t say you are reaching out, while you are holding a base ball bat ready to strike if people refuse your overtures. After the pandemic, the president should tour the country and preach peace. Enough of instability in our country.

  6. I simply do not understand why Dr. Sylvia Blyden would allow herself to suffer for a tribalistic and ungrateful political party that would eventually push her to one side if it ever becomes fortunate to assume power again in Sierra Leone.

    While APC grandees that stole public funds in the millions of dollars are relaxing in their mansions in Sierra Leone, Europe and America, Blyden who was humiliated by the party a couple of times because she did not hail from the North, is the one suffering in the squalor of Pademba Road prison.

    When would Sierra Leoneans with non-northern last names learn that there is no place for them in the APC? Does Blyden really believe that she has a chance of ever leading the APC? I am no fan of Blyden, but I feel for her. Why would she allow herself to suffer for a bunch of tribalists and regional hegemonists? The charges that she is defending are very serious charges and it will come as no surprise to me if she receives a long prison sentence.

  7. The charade continues – criminals from the South are going all out to ensure that a poor, wee, little, innocent lady is brutally violated, degraded and abused. A ye, it is easy to see that a corrupt judicial system, under constant threat and intimidation, whose actions are being vigilantly monitored and scrutinized, by mean-spirited, heartless Gestapos can never rule fairly and ethically in favor of Dr Blyden or Paolo Conteh. It is time for the media to plunge themselves headlong, with breakneck speed into this ongoing fight against individual liberties and freedom of expression.

    Madam, have no fear; these cowardly, good for-nothings have nothing at all on you. Stand strong and firm. Be not afraid (NOTHIN DAE HAPPEN) Hold the Line! Truth is on your side. A dictator with the tiny brain of an ant, knows he is running out of time because he has failed woefully and miserably already; all of his superficial policies and projects have crumbled easily like Castles made of sand, built by the unsteady hands of itsy-bitsy, drooling little children. Let Opposition leaders Go!

  8. Sec 34(1) of The Sierra Leone Public Order Act, No. 46 of 1965 state thus: *No prosecution for offence under section 33 shall be begun except within six months after the offence is committed*. Now, according to Dr. Sylvia Blyden charge-sheet, count 7 is a defamatory libel contrary to Sec 33(1)b. And this alleged “libelous statement” was made on October 20th, 2018. So, that charge (count 7) doesn’t exist because it’s way past the six month window.

    I’ll repeat it here again, Dr. Sylvia Blyden’s charges are trumped-up; and I personally think that the Attorney General should resign or be fired for signing that charge-sheet. Shameful!

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