The Supreme Court of Sierra Leone has warned social media users against publishing filed materials in the ongoing hearing of the 2018 presidential elections Petition.

The warning was issued by the Chief Justice, Dr. Desmond Babatunde Edwards who is presiding over the hearings into Petitions that seek to have the 2018 election of His Excellency Julius Maada Bio overturned with fresh elections held.

The Warning was unanimously endorsed by the other four honourable judges trying the matter; namely Hon. N.C. Browne-Marke, Hon. E.E. Roberts, Hon. Alusine Sesay and Hon. Ivan Sesay.

The decision to issue a warning to the media followed a vehement protest by Hon. George Banda-Thomas who is leading the Defense Team for His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio against the Petitions to overturn Bio as President of Sierra Leone.

Banda-Thomas was upset over a very long, 94-paragraphed Affidavit filed yesterday morning at the Supreme Court by Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden OOR, the 1st Petitioner in the matter. Speaking to the Court concerning her Affidavit, Dr. Blyden apparently lamented over issues of her constitutional and human rights. However, Banda-Thomas described the affidavit as “scandalous against President Bio” and so he requested that the contents of Blyden’s Affidavit should not be published on the open media.

In response to George Banda-Thomas Esq., an unperturbed Sylvia Blyden asserted to the Supreme Court that she stood by every single line of “those 94 paragraphs” which is why “I made them under Oath”.
After hearing both sides, the request of Banda-Thomas was granted with a strict warning from the Judges that no journalist or member of the Mass Media should publish contents of Sylvia Blyden’s 94-paragraphed Affidavit dated 21st January 2021.

The judges also issued directives that insofar as Dr. Sylvia Blyden’s plea for her human rights to be upheld, the Supreme Court will remain seized of the matter that has been noted. The five judges also unanimously directed that Dr. Sylvia Blyden’s freedom to move around should not hindered. Blyden had applied to the Supreme Court under Section 28(1), 28(2) and 28(6) of the Sierra Leone Constitution, for the Supreme Court to issue directives for the protection of her freedoms and human rights. She complained of harassments, arrests and detentions which she expressed concerns over in front of the Supreme Court yesterday.

The Judges also approved an application by President Bio and the SLPP to amend their papers that were incompletely filed. The President and the SLPP were given permission to add one more point they had left out in their filed papers.

Representing President Bio and the SLPP yesterday were six lawyers in the persons of George Banda Thomas Esq., Musa Mewah Esq., Lamin Mohamed Baryoh Esq., Ibrahim Sawaneh Esq., Memunatu Rogers Esq. and Moses Karfoe Esq.

Representing the National Electoral Commission and the Chief Electoral Commissioner in the matter is Luawa Chambers, the law firm of Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Esq.

Dr. Blyden who is the 1st Petitioner, is representing herself so far in the proceedings but she has given an indication to the Supreme Court that she was in the process of securing trained legal counsel to assist her make the required technical arguments.

The other petitioners in the matter are Dr. Samura Kamara as 2nd Petitioner, Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray as 3rd Petitioner and Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh as 4th Petitioner. Although they did not appear in court, they were represented yesterday by three lawyers in persons of Lansana Dumbuya Esq., F. Mansaray Esq. and M.W. Jalloh Esq.

The matter was then adjourned to February 2nd 2021. However, the Chief Justice has announced that when the court resumes sittings on February 2nd, they will speedily try the matter. He suggested that to expedite the matter, starting from the next adjourned date of 2nd February, the Elections Petition case will be called on a daily basis, day after day after day until all issues are exhausted and a judgement is given as to whether President Bio continues to serve as President of Sierra Leone.