By Musa Paul Feika
Awareness Times Publisher, Dr Sylvia Blyden has been remanded for the second time following the cancellation of her bail.
Dr Blyden spent over a month behind bars when she was picked up at her residence by police officers without explaining to her the reason for her arrest.
She spent over a week in police custody contrary to section 17 of the constitution of Sierra Leone which prescribes the maximum detention period for felonious and minor offences.
By nature of the offences for which she was arraigned, all offences are bailable but languished behind bars for prolonged period.
However, Dr Blyden was granted stiff bail by the presiding magistrate, Hannah Bonnie, last week, after she made a strong case for her deteriorating health condition.
The submission to nullify Sylvia’s bail was made by State prosecutor, Yusuf Isaac Sesay who drew the court’s attention to the fifth bail condition which restrained the accused, Sylvia Blyden from posting on social media platform anything regarding the matter because of the interest of international security and that of justice.
In her response to the concern raised by the State prosecutor, Madam Blyden told the court to put the court order in writing.
Consequently, Magistrate Hannah Bonnie ordered the detention of Sylvia Blyden at the Female Correctional Centre.
Lawyer Melron Nicole Wilson who is representing the second accused and other lawyers pleaded with the magistrate on behalf of Sylvia Blyden, but proved futile.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer, Superintendent Mohamed Kugba Allieu attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) took the witness stand during the day’s proceedings in respect of the same matter.
Mr Allieu recognised the two accused persons, Sylvia Blyden and Hussain Muckson Sesay, first and second accused respectively and recalled 1st May this year.
On that day, witness said, he was on duty at CID headquarters on Pa Demba Road in Freetown when he got intelligence from head of CID, John Kenneth Alpha that the first accused was posting inciting messages on social media which had the tendency to subvert state security.
Superintendent Allieu further testified that he was ordered Mr Alpha to investigate the allegation.
Owing to the order, he set up a team of Police officers comprising general duty and armed officers from the Operations Support Division and left for the scene of crime at Cockle Bay, off Aberdeen Road in Freetown.
Mr Allieu also testified that he executed a search warrant dated 1st May 2020 signed by two Justices of the peace, namely Alhaji B. Conteh and Ambrose A. Jonnis.
After the search, witness continued, the warrant was endorsed by the searching team.
The witness also explained to the court the first accused declined to sign the search warrant, stating that she had a poor handwriting, and requested for a copy to be given to her with the intention of taking a snap shot of it.
The witness also told the court that he did not allow the accused to take snapshot of the warrant.
The endorsed search warrant was tendered in evidence and formed part of the court`s records.
Superintendent Allieu also told the bench that on the same date, before the search warrant was executed at the premises of Sylvia Blyden, she was very hostile to the searching team and refused to open her door for the team to carry out their duty.
Mr. Alieu told the court that after the search, the second accused was taken to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for investigation.
Superintendent Allieu, in his testimony, told the court that he obtained three interview statements from the second accused on diverse dates noting that the accused was permitted to read those interview statements and she admitted to be true and correct by singing in her own handwriting in presence of a legal counsel of the second accused.
The interview statements were witnessed by Detective Police constable Zainab Isatu Kamara.
Mr. Allieu also informed the court that on 6th May this year, the investigating team asked the first accused to accompany them to her residence at Cockle Bay off Aberdeen Road to conduct another search warrant.
The first accused, according to the witness, did not accompany them to her residence.
The witness told the Court that the second search warrant was signed by a sitting magistrate, Mark Ngegba on the same date and the search was conducted in presence of the Sierra Leone Police, AYV Media team, and a print Media journalist prince Coker, an editor of Whisper Newspaper.
Mr. Alieu further testified that during the second search, certain items were discovered viz: two lab top computers, one Apple Ipad, one Oketel Mobile phone one Intel Mobile phone manual, two computer chargers, a picture frame labeled as HE Earnest Bai Koroma, Grand Commander of the Republic of Sierra Leone (GCRSL), and other valuable items.
The witness further informed the bench that during the search, a copy of a letter to the Internal Affairs Minister with the caption: “Letter for Urgent Audience in Respect of the Conduct of the detention of Retired Major Paolo Conteh, signed by Dr Sylvia Blyden.” Superintendent Alieu also informed the court that nothing was neither stolen nor seized by the investigating team during the search.
He told the court that the accused was confronted with those items which were discovered at her premises and that the accused claimed ownership of few of the items that were discovered.
Those electronic items were handed over to Cyber Unit at the CID for examination so that the investigation could be enhanced.
The witness said on 22nd May 2020, the accused person was charged to court with nine counts of defamatory and seditious libel, inciting messages and other related offences based on the findings of the cyber-crime unit.
Testifying on the matter of the second accused, Superintendent Allieu told the court that Muckson Sesay was found videoing the police investigator when he was obtaining interview statements from the first accused in his office at the CID.
He said he interrogated the second accused, but he refused to respond to the question saying he had been advised by his lawyer not to say anything.
Mr. Alieu told the court that on the 12th May 2020, he finally obtained interview statements from the second accused.
The second accused, witness said, was permitted to read his statements which he admitted to be true and correct by signing in his own handwriting in the presence of his counsel, Melron Nicole Wilson.
The second accused, Hussain Muckson Sesay, was charged with the offence of doing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice contrary to law.
The first accused pleaded with the bench for a short stand down so that she could properly peruse the witness’s testimony to enhance her cross examination.
In his response, state Prosecutor, Yusuf Isaac Sesay objected to the application.
Counsel Sesay however stated that since the first accused could not conclude her cross examination, he pleaded with the magistrate to grant her adjournment and his application was granted.
The first accused was remanded at the Female Correctional Centre in Freetown and the second accused`s bail continued.
The matter was adjourned to 8th June.
By Musa Paul Feika