Salone News

Neil Coyle’s scandalous and vague tales

16 November 2018 at 19:00 | 1204 views

Opinion

By Paul Duwai-Sowa (PDS)

At an orchestrated rally by supporters of the opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) in London, UK recently, a familiar blip, the British Labour Party MP for Southwark in London, Hon. Neil Coyle (pictured), who has become the ‘international liaison’ and public face of the All Peoples Congress Diaspora was seen jeering that the SLPP Government is repressive, despite the revealing truth of broad governance reforms, a free press, and no arrest and detention of any opposition member in the six months of President Bio’s government.

Hon. Neil Coyle’s dispassionate comments over the sacking of the commissioners at the Sierra Leone’s Human Rights Commission, and other unsubstantiated human rights abuse claims are as cockamamie as they can possibly get.

What Hon. Neil Coyle and his boring fellow MP, Hon. Harriette Harman have failed to understand is that executive powers in Sierra Leone allow the President to hire and fire heads of government agencies, boards, authorities, and commissions. Most importantly, the top appointments at these agencies, boards, authorities, and commissions including the Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission are not tenured.

On Tuesday June 26th, 2018, a public notice from State House indicated President Bio was restructuring boards, commissions, authorities and agencies with a few exceptions including the National Electoral Commission. His appointments by all indications seem to target citizens who are committed to the principles of public service and who embrace public service values.

Given the sealed lips of these former commissioners at the Human Rights Commission over human rights violations and the rule of law during President Ernest Bai Koroma’s administration, the dissolution of the commission was neither a short sighted move by President Bio, nor a slap on the face of human rights.

When President Bio took office in April of this year, he was clear and keen to reset the human rights record of Sierra Leone given the abysmal and cataclysmic abuse of human rights during the APC years in power.

Particularly during the Koroma era, the country’s human rights reputation had been damaged for, among other things, the killing of journalists like Ibrahim Foday of the Exclusive Newspaper, the imprisonment of some including David Tam Baryoh of the "Monologue" radio program for criticizing President Koroma over his handling of the Ebola Outbreak, and the spate of attacks on opposition members by APC thugs and state security forces.

Koroma forcefully removed his Vice President and placed him under house arrest in the guise of Ebola quarantine. Candidate Bio himself was repeatedly targeted prior to and during the March 2018 elections. In spite of the many calls by civil society groups and the ECOWAS Court to reinstate Vice President Alhaji Sam Sumana, the APC regime of Ernest Koroma remained unhinged with a degree of contumacy.

President Bio knows by virtue of his constitutional responsibilities that he is accountable to all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of political party stripes, ethnicity and social class, and that he must be committed to serving all citizens diligently in pursuit of economic growth and the stability of the state he governs.

In particular, the new Bio Administration has shown unflinching determination to disavow any actions targeting any citizen of Sierra Leone and taken steps to admonish the Sierra Leone Police and other security agents of the state in protecting the lives and properties of all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of any political divide or ethnicity.

This is not the first time that the Hon. Neil Coyle has been seeing bantering uncritical and uneducated comments about current state of affairs in Sierra Leone. Prior to the botched rally in London, MP Neil Coyle had come out hurling bricks at the Bio Government. Video of his casuistry on social media was met with revulsion and a huge public outcry by well-meaning Sierra Leoneans who are proud of the new direction the country is heading.

The so-called human rights commission’s shitstorm is a complete tosh intended to create a moral panic that the SLPP-led government of President Bio is fueling attack on human rights organizations to quiet the opposition. This gimmick implored by the ousted APC government cannot be removed from their ploy to divert the nation’s attention from the already parliamentary-approved commission of inquiry.

MPs Neil Coyle and Harriette Harman are jumping unwittingly on the streets of London with the APC Diaspora some of whom the Government Transition Team Report has declared as racketeers. There is no reason to team up with some of these unpatriotic Sierra Leoneans who are running away from their financial impropriety in Sierra Leone. This public façade on the streets of London masks the hidden agenda of the APC Diaspora in their attempt to tarnish the image of the new government that is overwhelmed with the restructuring of state institutions.

Hon. Neil Coyle, who has not honoured the invitation of the current government to visit Sierra Leone and make first hand assessment, is showing prevalent misunderstanding of the initial steps taken by the new administration to bring back a sense of normalcy to Sierra Leone’s fledgling democracy.

Contrary to the rogue accounts of Neil Coyle, a release on the visit of a UK delegation to Sierra Leone consisting John Mann and Angela Rayner both honourable members of the British Parliament indicate favourable comments about President Bio’s initial steps toward democratic governance since he was elected President.

In as much as Coyle and Harman may be champions of human rights, it is equally concerning that they are very naïve about the current state of affairs in Sierra Leone. Britain has a high commission in Sierra Leone and as far as the world knows, there has not been any public information indicating gross human rights violations since President Bio kicked the APC through the ballots. Many Sierra Leoneans are therefore appalled that MPs Coyle and Harman are associating with a political party that has the worst human rights record. It is quite an unhealthy mix and totally misguided.

The fake rally in London, while uninspiring, unpatriotic and disapproving, is not surprising. This public posturing appears to be strategic. The APC Diaspora is trying to inspire a disenchanted and despondent APC grassroots, while at the same time discrediting the current government on the international stage.

While there may be isolated incidents of jungle justice in a country that is still reeling from the effects of war, these incidents are not state sponsored or directed by the new SLPP led government. The aftermath of the civil war in Sierra Leone has been spellbinding with unwarranted vigilante justice where some citizens have taken the law into their own hands. Petty thieving and community clashes for example have ended with unsavory outcomes. Invariably, there is an unquestionable need for ongoing public education and awareness on conflict prevention and peace preservation among the population.

The author, Paul Duwai-Sowa

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