Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden OOR: Siera Leone Telegraph: 12 June 2021:
In the midst of accolades being showered on Sierra Leone’s President Bio as a so-called “Champion of Free Speech”, it is a fact that a young member of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) party, Mr. Michael Magba Mansaray, is today, Saturday June 12th 2021, spending his 45th day behind bars for committing absolutely no criminal offense.
His ostensible crime is that he dared to record a video in which he truthfully criticised President Bio as having not much to show as development strides to the people of Bo District, when compared to the work of the former president within the same district.
As a result of his video done on April 27th, 2021, in which Mansaray expressed dissenting views critical of President Bio, the Government that is currently led by President Bio, was to embark on a kangaroo prosecution of the young man.
The Government, through the Sierra Leone Police, was to cook up non-existent crimes to ensure the young opposition dissenting voice, is kept behind prison bars.
First of all, an identified bunch of Police officers and known supporters of President Bio went to the private residence of Mansaray whilst he was having his bath.
As they were executing their kidnap of the opposition youth activist, they were gloriously recording live videos of the incident and sharing it on social media.
In one of the videos, the kidnappers can be heard making threatening remarks that if the Police Commandant for the Southern Province, (at the time it was AIG Fayia Sellu who was in post) dared to release the kidnapped man after making such a video criticising President Bio, there could be consequences for the Police Commandant.
Eventually, after several days of detention and after a comprehensive examination of the video, it was realised the opposition APC Youth leader cannot be charged for anything criminal insofar as the video is concerned.
So Mansaray was taken back to his house for what the Police describe as a “Search”. In his house, they found medical items belonging to his wife who is a nurse. The few items included syringes and Oral Rehydration Salts.
According to the Police evidence to the courts, the items found also included 9 (nine) tablets of a Panadol/Ibuprofen headache medicine known as RELIEF.
The 9 tablets were on a single strip of card. It had been 10 tablets but one had been used by the young man.
So, the Government of President Bio, through the Sierra Leone Police, decided that they will charge him to court and he was then convicted for possessing the 9 tablets of Panadol/Ibuprofen in his house.
So the Government that is led by the “Champion of Free Speech” President Bio proceeded to use a Law enacted in 2008 which specifically states it is ONLY for criminal offenses involving dangerous drugs like Cocaine and Heroin.
Mansaray was then wrongly and maliciously charged under that 2008 Law subsequent to which, he was wrongfully and summarily found guilty of a non-existent crime of having 9 Panadol tablets and for which he has now been sentenced to 8 months jail.
The young opposition APC activist has now spent 45 days in custody since he was first kidnapped, half naked from his house, by supporters and government officials of the Government led by the so-called “Champion of Free Speech” President Julius Maada Bio.
A Sierra Leonean citizen is now behind bars for 45 days today for a non-existent crime of having 9 Panadol tablets in his private house. This is Sierra Leone under President Bio. Welcome to Sierra Leone’s version of “Free Speech”.