Renowned Sierra Leonean broadcaster and social commentator, Dr. David Tam-Baryoh of “Monologue” fame has said in Freetown that several publications against him in the Awareness Times Newspaper “were done maliciously” and were intended “to tarnish his hard-earned reputation and public image”.
Dr. Tam-Baryoh’s lawyer, Ansu B. Lansana has informed the Global Times that his client had instructed him to pursue legal action against the Acting editor of Awareness Times Aruna Turay, the paper’s Proprietress Sylvia Olayinka Blyden and the newspaper itself.
Dr. Tam-Baryoh has meanwhile written an open letter to the President of SLAJ and Politicians in Sierra Leone warning them not to attempt to thwart his legal efforts.
See letters below.
Tam-Baryoh Writes SLAJ President
March 11, 2014
Mr. Kelvin Lewis
President, Sierra Leone Association of Journalists
No. 56 Campbell Street, Freetown
Dr. David Tam-Baryoh Taking legal Defamatory And Libel (civil and criminal)
Suits against Proprietress, Editor and the Awareness Times newspaper.
I write to abreast you, officially and professionally, that I, journalist, David Tam-Baryoh, have now reached the conclusion that the law be tested against the Awareness Times Newspaper as an entity, the Acting Editor (Aruna Turay) and Sylvia Olayinka Walminah Blyden, the Proprietress of the paper.
Last week, my lawyers 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 (7) days to do so. They did not only refuse but even went ahead to cause another publication; clearly showing that this battle has long been awaited by Ms. Blyden.
Sir, may I categorically establish that I am not suing anyone here in any other 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 libelous.
Also, though I have been, over the last twenty years, a proponent to abolishing obnoxious sections of the Criminal Libel laws (1965 Public Order Act) of our land, I believe that a bad law in the books, even if not used, does not in any way negate its odious effects on persons in society. So today, let them be tested as long as they are the only safe-guards we have from persons such as Sylvia Walminah Blyden and Aruna Turay.
I am at pains to include a young boy (Aruna Turay) in my suits for allowing himself to be used to achieve mischief. But perhaps, when justice is finally done, this might serve as lesson for other up-coming journalists never to allow themselves to be used by ill motivated viperous individuals in our society.
I am making these legitimate excuses, should anyone in future tell me that I ought not to have taken such routes. Therefore you, the enlarged membership of our association, the reading public and the said publications against my person and integrity will be my witnesses.
Should anyone try to politicize my action, may I state also sir, that my legal action against Ms. Sylvia Blyden has nothing to do with the office of 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 the light of that, I would expect no interference in my case from any one from above.
Mr. President Sir, as head of the professional body (SLAJ), I would like to intimate you that my wife, Princess Safula Tam-Baryoh also intends to bring up a criminal libel suit against Sylvia Walminah Olayinka Blyden, her editor and outfit for writing unsavory things against me her husband. Her own team of competent lawyers is still assessing the principle of double jeopardy; should they want to advice her to sue while my own case is on-going. According to her, “calling my husband a criminal, when there is no proof of such-legal or otherwise, in Sierra Leone or anywhere in the world, is the worst that has come from a woman like Sylvia. I trust the legal system and surely I will meet her in court”.
In the light of the above, and considering what you and many sound minds may have known this and some other like minds to be doing as per the denigration of mine and other people’s integrity-including yours, I want to state that my wife and I have decided to take this action so as to save the nation (and perhaps the national leadership) from such individuals, and so would like to do it the legal way.
From SLAJ and its membership, politicians and the national leadership of our country, I would expect and accept no behind-the-scenes moves to thwart my legal efforts.
Thanking you for your cooperation.
David Tam-Baryoh PhD
Cc: Mr. Moses Kargbo, Secretary General, SLAJ
The Chief Commissioner, Independent Media Commission, IMC
Secretary to H.E. the President, Mr. Osho Coker
Mr. Franklyn Kargbo, Attorney General and Justice Minister
My legal adviser
Dr. Tam – Baryoh’s Lawyer Writes Awareness Times
ANSU B. LANSANA ESQ.
B.A. (HONS) LL.B (HONS) B.L.
BARRISTER AND SOLICITOR
Of the High Court of Sierra Leone
Massah Chambers, Second Floor, 29 Lower Waterloo Street, Freetown – Sierra Leone
Date: 27th February 2014.
The Acting Editor
Awareness Times Newspaper
17 Garrison Street
RE: LIBELLOUS PUBLICATIONS AGAINST DR. DAVID TAM-BARYOH
I have been consulted and my services retained by Dr. David Tam-Baryoh of 7 Juba Estate, Juba, Freetown. I therefore write pursuant to his instructions.
My client has submitted to me publications of articles in your Awareness Times newspaper that he considers scurrilous and maliciously intended to tarnish his hard-earned reputation and public image both as an individual and as a notable broadcaster.
The offending articles span publications dated 3rd, 6th, 19,th 21st and 24th February 2014 and refer to my client as a notorious blackmailer, a criminal and an individual who is criminally minded. Referring to a decent citizen as a criminal especially when he has never been convicted of a criminal offence in a Court of Law is not only vilifying and venomous but a consciously contrived gimmick to expose him to public hatred, ridicule or contempt. To do so without any lawful justification constitutes both a criminal offence and a civil wrong for which my client has recourse to the Courts of Law.
My client does not, however, contemplate litigation as a first resort. His instructions are that your newspaper publishes a retraction and an unreserved apology for the said publications. In consequence of the said instructions, I hereby formally demand your newspaper’s retraction of the offending publications with unqualified apologies, giving both the same front-page prominence as the offending publications. This your newspaper should do before Friday 7th March 2014 otherwise legal proceedings shall be instituted without further reference to you.
Ansu B. Lansana Esq.
1. The Commissioner – Independent Media Commission
2. Dr. David Tam-Bayoh