- as court bailiffs siege the SEA
By Moses A. Kargbo
The Special Executive Assistant (SEA) to the President, Sylvia Blyden, has since last week Wednesday been cowardly evading moves by court Process Servers to serve her a writ of summons following a civil defamation action brought against her by popular journalist, Dr. David Tam-Baryoh, Concord Times can authoritatively reveal.
Process Servers had already served the writ of summons to the acting editor of Awareness Times newspaper, Aruna Turay, but his boss Blyden – the proprietress of the newspaper – was said to have constantly stayed in-doors, thus thwarting every effort by the officials to hand her the writ.
“We’ve already served the editor [Aruna Turay] with the writ of summons but we still could not deliver the papers to Sylvia Blyden because she is always inside her house with all doors and windows firmly locked,” one of the Process Servers told Concord Times last Friday. “Court officials have had cause to stay outside of her house for hours but she would not come out.”
The man, who preferred anonymity, said they have – since last Thursday – stationed court officials at Ms. Blyden’s residence and Awareness Times newspaper office in readiness to serve her with the summons, but the SEA would often remain indoors.
Concord Times learnt that a number of court bailiffs were even sent to waylay Ms. Blyden at the residence of late ex-President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah last Friday in the hope that she would be among the government delegation who had gone to pay their respect to the late former Head of State, so that she would be served with the writ, but she chose to stay away, probably in fear of being served with the court order.
It could be recalled that Dr. Tam-Baryoh, in a letter dated 11 March 2014, addressed to the president of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Kelvin Lewis, revealed his intention to drag the SEA to court on both civil and criminal defamatory libel for “calumnious write-ups” against his person.
“My lawyer wrote a letter to Ms. Blyden and her editor, asking them to retract, with befitting apologies, their calumnious write-ups against my person, and they were given seven days to do so. They did not only refuse but even went ahead to cause another publication; clearly showing that this battle has been awaited by Ms. Blyden,” Tam-Baryoh stated in his letter.
“…I am not suing anyone here in any capacity, safe for the fact that they (two persons and the newspaper) are related and caused to have published the said offensive articles that have been assessed by me, family and lawyers as defamatory and libellous…Should anyone try to politicise my action, may I state…that my legal action against Ms. Sylvia Blyden has nothing to do with the First Gentleman of the nation, where she works as Special Executive Assistant (SEA) to His Excellency, my President. She did what she did to me in her private capacity as proprietress and opinion writer of the Awareness Times newspaper, and not in her line of duty as the SEA to His Excellency. In light of that, I would expect no interference in my case from any one ‘from above’.”
Blyden, in last Thursday’s edition of her newspaper, said she enjoys ‘Executive Powers’ as the SEA to the President, which – according to her – makes it practically impossible for anyone to bring an action against her in a court of law.
As court officials laid siege to the SEA’s residence, lawyers representing Dr. Tam-Baryoh were busy last Friday in court trying to seek approval for Ms. Blyden to be served the writ of summons through newspaper publications, since she had gone into hiding and could not be located.
An aide to the ‘Monologue’ presenter told Concord Times that the court bailiffs would make the final attempt to serve Ms. Blyden with the writ on Monday (today) – between 8:00am and 12:00pm – and that if she could still not be reached, the court would grant an order for her to be served through newspaper publications.
Meanwhile, a source in the David Tam-Baryoh camp has confirmed that criminal action will also be brought against Ms. Blyden, her editor and Awareness Times newspaper by Wednesday this week for scurrilous and libellous articles published against the journalist.