Letter to editor

Open letter to Sylvia Blyden

22 March 2010 at 22:36 | 861 views

Stop Supporting Alleged Corrupt Officials for self Interest!

By Christian F. Sesay Jr., Texas.

Dear Sylvia Blyden,

Trapped in a series of publications attempting to exonerate alleged corrupt officials using your media instead of the judiciary, or what many are calling the outright support for public officials alleging to be looting the wealth of the poverty stricken masses in Sierra Leone, you as the Publisher of Awareness Times, Sylvia Blyden, has upped the ante for yourself, your credibility and your paper with your latest rounds of journalistic propaganda: “Our NRA Commissioner-General Alieu Sesay”, “Sylvia Blyden to be a Defense Witness for Afsatu Kabba in Sierra Leone”, “Alieu Sesay should be reinstated”, “ACC & Afsatu Kabba: From Sublimely Ridiculous to Psychotic!” or “In Sierra Leone, After Fruitless House-Hunting for Non-Existent Afsatu House... : ACC ‘Intimidates’ Fisheries Permanent Secretary, Anti Corruption Don Panic Oh We Fambool Dem...!” I must restate the sentiments of the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans that you are seemingly engaged in a full court press to defend your friends, mischaracterize the ACC and its good work, and allow impunity to reign in Sierra Leone.

Rather than issue a call for a thorough investigation of the on-going allegations of corruption by these suspects, and demand answers, instead, to the utmost disgust of sober minded Sierra Leoneans who are bent on breaking the back of the vicious cankerworm that has plagued this nation for far too long, you continue to reiterate your baseless claims and allow your paper to be used as a trumpet blowing the horns of alleged corrupt officials. This self acclaimed portrayal of “civil right” activism smells downright fishy. Yeah right! A civil rights activist who does not only condone corruption but uses her resources to serve as a surety for alleged corrupt officials. Guess what? People have a right to know if and who is paying the deniers and how much? It is difficult to deceive or confuse a well-informed country with empty soapbox antics and rhetoric.

Examining the phenomenal accomplishments of the ACC since the inception of Mr. Abdul Tejan-Cole, there is a clear proof that corruption is being challenged with a head on collision. Let us “give unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and unto God that which belongs to God”. Whilst it is true that the Anti Corruption Commission just like all other institutions the world over, has its own lapses, which I am sure they are working on, yet, that should not be seen as the smokescreen to be the mouth piece for alleged corruption by decrying the work of the Anti Corruption Commissioner for any personal interest.

Haja Afasatu might have raised 11 billion in her ministry as you have been rightly singing and for which the nation is grateful yet, that does not immune anyone from corruption investigations if there is a reasonable cause. If anyone has ever underestimated Mr. Abdul Tejan-Cole, you might want to think twice. Knowing full well his dedication to eradicate Sierra Leone from its culture of corruption, I know he has the guts to weed out any corrupt cankerworm that you are now embracing or intend to embrace in the future. Whether it is Haja Kabba or Lilian Lisk, there will be no sacred cow under the eagle eyes of Abdul Tejan-Cole!

Now that you have pulled a rabbit out of a hat and profess to know that much about the Fish Mafia, this begs two questions- First, why didn’t you reveal this information before now especially since you have been bragging about an alleged fish mafia the past few weeks? Secondly, knowing you why didn’t you record your ’conversation’ with Lillian Lisk? While it is very usual for the defence to try to destroy the credibility of the prosecution’s star witness, it must be noted that the defendant has a credibility problem as well – Remember the “Energy gate Scandal.” You get the idea?

Perhaps more interesting than supporting the alleged corrupt officials under investigation is your campaign to have the suspended NRA Commissioner, Alieu Sesay, be reinstated on the grounds that your almighty instinct tells you that he has done nothing wrong. The negative reaction of the public to such a request is still remembered! Please allow justice to take its proper course.

Here’s the rub Madam Publisher: your media treats the Anti-Corruption Commission as if it were a mere political tool. Within the legal framework of handling corruption cases, opinions should not matter more than the facts and it is somehow important to tell both sides of the story, even if there is no other side. I think the public knows that Mr. Tejan-Cole is a well read scholar and a top notch attorney capable enough to distinguish between facts and opinion. Let us be quiet and allow him to do the work he is paid to do without gratuitous interference.

Madam Sylvia, think of the analogy with the Chief rebel, Foday Sankoh. Would it be ethical in the 21st century for a newspaper editor to provide unnecessary coverage to the masses of Sierra Leone asserting there is no link between Sankoh and amputees in Sierra Leone? Such is the media mischief game that you have been playing. Many advertising spaces are being sold as a result of your “provocative” support for corrupt officials whilst many kids in Sierra Leone are made to sell “Akara” on the street of Freetown instead of attending school. Many of our teachers go without pay whilst our medical personnel go without a decent employment package. Many of the youths are unemployed and many still wonders where their next meal will come from because the country’s wealth is being siphoned. This is the pathetic state of Sierra Leone.

You and I have no clue of what it means to go to bed hungry. You and I went to good schools at home and abroad and we were provided with a bright future. Now, the nation will not allow you to put self interest and alleged criminals on a pedestal stool at the expense of the poor. Thankfully, some editors whose integrity is still intact have moved beyond providing journalistic reinforcement for alleged corrupt officials.

Must we also endure decades of so-called debate about the eradication of corruption? Such journalistic malpractice and your antics has created a situation where the voting public remains dangerously ill-informed on what many people believe will be the defining issue of our nation. The decisions we make (or not) now will determine nothing less than the fate of Sierra Leone. By your actions, the people of Sierra Leone will judge you!

While you might be deriding the efforts of the ACC to the point of spearheading the campaign to pooh-pooh on this institution for doing its work, the ACC and many of us, I mean the silent majority, are not listening to you. In other words: Let us stop jumping to conclusion and allow the Commission to do its work.

Need more?

In one of your articles on the same issue of the ACC, you talked about democracy. Well let me tell you about the base upon which democracy thrives. Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting the cases of alleged suspects through journalistic propaganda, you have done more than endanger the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone. You have undermined Sierra Leonean democracy. There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.

Finally Madam Publisher, May be journalism is not entirely about selling ad space. May be it is not about using the pen into terrifying public officials to host websites. May be it might be a good idea, in the face of truly apocalyptic consequences, to err on the side of caution and reasoning.

Or even accuracy…