Sierra Leone has lost one of its best journalists of all time – Philip Neville of Standard Times

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 December 2022:

Sierra Leone’s veteran journalist and media mogul – Philip Neville, passed away early this morning –  Wednesday, 28th December, 2022 at the Choithram Memorial Hospital in Hill Station, Freetown, after sustaining severe head injuries in a hit-and-run motor bike accident.

According to reports, Philip Neville was walking on the roadside pedestrian pavement when he was knocked down from behind by a speeding okada bike two days ago, on Boxing Day, in front of the church and house he had built at Kossoh town.

He was taken into intensive care with severe brain haemorrhage and never regained  consciousness. He died of his head injuries this morning.

The driver of the bike is reported to have run away from the scene, leaving the bike behind. The police are investigating.

Neville is the owner of the popular Standard Times Newspaper, Star Radio and TV – Media One Centre. He is also a former Vice President and Acting President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ).

In a statement published this morning, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists says that it “regrets to announce the death of our senior colleague, Philip Neville, which sad event took place early today Wednesday, 28th December 2022 at the Choithram Memorial Hospital, Hill Station, Freetown.

“We extend our sincere condolences to the bereaved family, relatives, friends, and the entire media fraternity. Funeral arrangements will be announced later. May the Lord have mercy upon him and grant him eternal rest in Perfect Peace.”

Phillip Neville will be best known and remembered for his fearless journalism, especially in exposing corruption at the highest levels of government – present and past in Sierra Leone, for which he paid a very high price – facing police arrests and detention.

In October last year, Sierra Leone police arrested and detained nine people working at the popular Star Radio station owned by Neville, over allegations of illegal electricity connection to the national grid. Among those arrested were the Proprietor of Star Radio Philip Neville and the Station Manager – Abdul Rahman.

But supporters of Philip Neville said at the time that Neville’s arrest was politically motivated. He had published the following headline just few days before his arrest last year by the Bio-led SLPP government:

Also, in June 2007, Philip Neville who was serving as Vice President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, and Executive Editor of Standard Times Newspaper, was arrested by police under the instructions of the late president Tejan Kabba, after Philip Neville had published a politically damaging story against the SLPP government, accusing the Kabbah government of rampant corruption.

A front-page story published in his newspaper on 27th of June 2007 about the Libyan Leader – Colonel Ghaddafi’s visit to Sierra Leone and the tons of rice donated by the Libyan Leader to the people of Sierra Leone, alleged to have been stolen by the Kabbah-led SLPP government, marked the beginning of the end for the Tejan-Kabbah led SLPP government, who went on to lose the 2007 elections a few weeks later.

According to reports at the time, opposition parties were vehemently opposed to Ghaddafi’s visit to Sierra Leone, questioning Kabbah’s close relationship with Ghaddafi whom they accused of providing funds for the re-election of the ruling SLPP in the coming August 11 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

Despite calls for his release by SLAJ and civil society, president Kabbah and the police were determined to teach Neville a bitter lesson ahead of presidential and general elections.

SLAJ issued this statement, saying: “SLAJ demands that Philip Neville be released from police custody without further delay for the following reasons. First and foremost, the constitution of Sierra Leone provides that a suspect of a non-capital offence should be charged to court within seventy-two hours or be released.

“Secondly, the continued detention of Philip Neville is causing tension within the community and therefore, the matter of granting him bail should be treated as a matter of urgency.

“SLAJ has already cooperated with government by disseminating the government version of the Libyan controversy and therefore the need for the press and government to work amicably, especially on the eve of presidential and parliamentary elections, need not be overemphasized.

“SLAJ does not intend to politicize the Philip Neville incarceration, but it is also the responsibility of government to ensure that the rule of law is promoted without bias and intolerance.”

As in 2007 – with an SLPP government in power today, accused of rampant corruption in high places, especially at State House and the Office of the First Lady – running into tens of millions of dollars, the people of Sierra Leone will be going to the polls in just under six months amid calls for a change of government.

Two days ago, Phillip Neville was mysteriously knocked down whilst walking on the pavement by an okada rider who ran away from the scene. Philip Neville never regained consciousness. He died this morning of severe head injuries in hospital.

Philip Neville like the late veteran journalist – Olu Gordon, is an icon of Sierra Leone journalism and will be sorely missed.

Reflecting on Philip Neville’s passing this morning, Sierra Leone’s former Attorney General Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, reminded the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph, Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas of this quote by Chuck Palahniuk:

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”

Philip Neville has certainly left behind a massive legacy that should inspire every journalist in the country, especially young entrepreneurs aspiring to establish their own media empire.

9 Comments

  1. Only the truth deniers will sell you a goat and try and convince you actually the goat is a deer!Yes they will go all out to peddle lies and misinformation laced with hate and insults , that if you fail to join them in that gravy train of la la land that they try to convince you exist in Sierra Leone , you might as well pack up and flee for the mountains , because only there you will able to capture the real destruction that is taking place under the corrupt and inept Bio government .The APC party’s policies of repression and fake coups for which many well meaning educated Sierra Leoneans gave up their high paying jobs to see if they can make a difference , men like Dr Forna , M.O Bash Taqi .Dr Francis Minah , and many others that were executed because they wanted to change the trajectory of the ship of state only to pay the ultimate price on concocted lies ,and stories planted on them by the then Stevens and Momoh governments , yet we are still living under the shadows and the consequences of those polices started back in the 70s .

    Those policies brought us the civil war , corruption on industrial scales , under development , and yet we continue to wonder why our country is still poor , and the quality of life for our people is one of the worst in the world . What are your life chances in Sierra Leone for a youth graduate ?Everywhere you look , is the abject poverty that seemed most pronounced on peoples faces .But since Sierra Leoeans are dignified people and easy going, the only word they find to cope with the distressing Bionomices situation they found themselves is “Pa we deh manage “Those words were inherited from the days of the APC Stevens government .And today they are still being used wildly .That tells you everything you want to know how far our country has advanced .The truth is maybe Boi and his followers used to say those words when they were “Dreg men “.Now he have the opportunity to change the narrative and give us new words like” Pa ah Glady me and me family deh do fine and de country deh do fine ” and thanks to Bio the forward looking president .

    I am afraid that is not the case .Bio is the worst president we ever elected in that office .My reasoning is simple , he talks about our problems of corruption, but he never does anything about it .He had failed to take the bull by the horn .If the United Nations, human development index were to give awards for the worst performing countries in the world , SierraLeone will compete for the gold medal .There are few countries in the world that are blessed with the human and natural resources , with sandy and beautiful beaches , and a tropical rainforest yet because of poor leadership we are still languishing at the bottom of the world economic ladder .Our only comparable features is like Hati , and other countries that are surrounded by the Shara deserts .Is it the case we as black people can’t manage our countries .?

    We are always looking for handouts from international donor organisation .I am no Uncle Tom or a coconut , but real observation that I made across the continent of Africa and the carreibean.Wherever there is a majority black political elites , there is suffering of the ordinary people .DRC , Central Africa Republic , Sierra Leone , Liberia , Equatorial Guinea , Guinea Mozambique, Angola, South Sudan , The Sudan , Somalia , Nigeria , Malawi, Zimbabwe, but next door where they have a sizable white population , despite all what black South Africans went through with the issues of apartheid , the country is more develop than majority of these African countries I listed .What about Botswana perhaps one of few African countries that don’t ‘go to the IMF cap in hand asking for bail out .What about Namibia ?We used to have the slave trade four hundred years ago .Where a black man sell his fellow black man to white foreigners .

    Today we have what is called enhanced slavery by the great , grand children of those same people that used to enslaved their fellow black men and women .The difference this time technology and education have made it more acceptable .So our country has new slave masters that form political parties which they use to maintained the status quo .What is going on in Sierra Leone and other African countries are no different from what used to go on in the sugar plantations of the Caribbean, Brazil and South America and the Southern States of the United States of America.Four hundred or five hundred years of slavery by our so-called elected political representatives .Enough is enough

  2. No surprise there Kabs! Did you not insinuate during your heyday as a spin doctor that some one as decent as ART – the fair-minded Editor of this respected Sierra Leone Telegraph –  is in the pocket and beckon of then opposition leader Julius Maada Bio? He was obviously not. He was only focussing and shining a laser on the shortcomings of then President Ernest Koroma as he is now doing against our current leader. In your parochial worldview, ART had the audacity of calling for the impeachment of your paymaster who was clearly guilty of going rogue with the constitution by sacking his then Vice-President Sam Sumana. President Bio is now mimmicking him by bending certain constitutional articles or provisions to conduct the next general elections on the basis of proportional representation (PR) – a decision i believe will backfire spectacularly on him as evidenced on the results of the last  PR elections.

    Kabs, I can understand very few people dare bite the hand that feeds them. Your Mount Aureol buddy, having plucked you from the depths of the classroom full of children with special educational needs and catapulting you to the dizzying heights of a Diplomat in a futuristic high-rise UN building in New York, certainly expected the maximum and fiercest loyalty to him. And Boy loyal were you and still are. By the same token, you would expect some members of Maada Bio’s cabal who followed him from the streets of London will be with him all the way rain or shine. I get that. I am pretty sure your counterparts in the present establishment are not too happy with some articles ART is writing about their President and our President Bio. But ART and some of us decent and consistent  arm-chair pundits are not seasonal and still have a job to do, irrespective of the occupant at State House, as long as Sierra Leone is still caught up in that vortex and vicious circle of chronic poor governance, corruption, tribalism and economic mismanagement. 

    Those of us who are pro-Sierra Leone, consistent and  are not seasonal in our incessant tirade against the political, economic and social ills of our motherland will always be accused of being SLPP or APC. There are some of you guys who hop on the gravy trains, AKA SLPP and APC, by vritue of being progenies of former party stalwarts, being close to college or school mates or reaping a demographic dividend. On that myopic basis, i am more than qualified to belong to any of those two camps who have been conspiring in unison since the 60s to hoodwink, miss-sell  to and hijack the people of Sierra Leone to heap misery, deprivation and pauperism on the motherland. If that is not the case, who then could explain to me in simple and lay terms why we are ever stuck year-in and year-out in the last ten bottom rungs of the human development ladder and propping up even our next door neighbours Guinea and Liberia. And all these years, the likes of Kabs Kanu and his clones have been hired as truth-spinners to announce over the tannoy with deafening noise that all is hunky dory in the motherland.

    In conclusion, it goes without saying, i am neither SLPP nor APC. I am made of sterner stuff, with a compact moral compass and a crystal-clear social conscience. Kabs, i know via the Cocorioko and other online fora your pro-APC viewpoints, the even-handed ones of the likes of the Editor of this most respected platform and the flip-flopping ones of some of those of the present establishment such as Saidu Bangura and Kutubu Koroma. If you could trawl your archives, under a certain name which i will not divulge to you, you will come to your senses and conclude that for someone like me the fight is for Sierra  Leone and not for any conjured dinosaurian party of my collegemate, my schoolmate, my parents or tribesmen. Happy New Year.

  3. NO JOURNALIST IN SIERRA LEONE IS EVER GOOD

    Abdul Kamara says of Philip Neville on
    DECEMBER 29, 2022 AT 1:36 PM

    “He was a corrupt journalist who took money for stories and did not bother to check his sources. History will not be kind to him. May god have mercy on his soul.” The Philip Neville that others are describing as a hero ? But this is Abdul Kamara’s opinion. Sierra Leoneans’ opinions of journalists will always differ. Even Olu Gordon had his enemies and those who speak evil of him.

    No journalist in Sierra Leone is ever good. It all depends on who is doing the analysis and the color of the political shirt he wears or the experience he or she has had with him or her.

    Thankfully, in his book , POPE PAUL AND THE MABANTA BOY , former State House Press Secretary Sheka Tarawallie , who is a more credible media analyst than the wishy-washy SLPP supporters perambulating the Sierra Leone Telegraph forum , recorded me as one of the journalists who, along with Pius Foray, Hindolo Trye and others , fought the Siaka Stevens APC Government with our pens in the 1970s and earned arrests and detention at Pademba Road Prisons as a result. So, SLPP Bob Massallay, your opinion does not matter. My name is already recorded in posterity. And Sheka Tarawallie will not be the last to record my name.

    Abdul Rashid Thomas, beware of green-shirted Greeks when they give you gifts. Today, it is Hossanah. I was the best thing that happened to journalism in Sierra Leone in 1970s when I fought the APC Government at Fourah Bay College and downtown and was not only arrested and detained at Pademba Road but was forced into exile . SLPP supporters at FBC and downtown praised me to the high heavens. I became a bad boy when I tore SLPP President Kabba to shreds and helped bring President Ernest Koroma to power in 2007, and then served his government in the UN. On my now defunct online Cocorioko Forum , there was no journalist like me. Today, I am not, because I am brutal to SLPP President Maada Bio .

    It is all a matter of opinion . But when we finish bringing down President Maada Bio, posterity will be kind to us. But should journalists treat praises seriously ? Jesus Christ warned his disciples : BEWARE OF MEN WHEN THEY PRAISE YOU.

    LUKE 6 : 26 “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”

  4. I make it a habit to read weekly all online Sierra Leonean newspapers with a wide spectrum of political leanings, framing or level of independence ranging from Global Times to Cocorioko. Phil Neville’s Standard Times and certainly Abdul Rashid Thomas’ Sierra Leone Telegraph win hands down when it comes to standard journalism. They are more or less always on the side of the people and the truth more than those in the corridors of power.

    If we have had all these years – more Thomases and Nevilles, and less Kabs Kanus, Sylvia Blydens, Sorie Fofanas and the other political or pretend journalists of their ilk who peddle and curry influence and favour as well as cavort with both those in the corridors of power and/or the corrupt elite, Sierra Leone as a country would have been in a better place.

    The yardstick or metric to use to measure how independent and good a Sierra Leone-bassed Journalist really is, is how many times he has been intimidated by different sitting Governments. The NPRC, SLPP 3, APC 3, SLPP 4 and even the wedded RUF/AFRC have all tried to silence or cow him, but he kept calm and carried on with his job of reporting the news fairly and squarely without fear or favour.Your forthright, fair and just journalism was certainly not seasonal.

    RIP Phil Neville. My thoughts and prayers are with your family and friends in their ultimate darkest of hours. You die with a clear conscience as far as your service to your motherland is concerned. Without any speculation of foul play or ortherwise about the chain of events leading to your death, it is fair to say thar there are people out there with parochial interests and considerations who love themselves more than Sierra Leone that have their wishes met.

  5. He was a corrupt journalist who took money for stories and did not bother to check his sources. History will not be kind to him. May god have mercy on his soul.

  6. May the soul of Philip Neville rest in perfect peace . He has left behind a country embroiled in the same issues at the dawn of his journalistic career. He fought a good fight in the name of extricating his beloved country from the clutches of the ills which have retarded our progress for decades, the backbone of which is official corruption. With his pen or computer keyboard Philip tried to completely kill corruption, but in Sierra Leone, corruption has an infinite number of lives, skillfully sustained by SLPP and APC.

    Mr Neville’s presence will sorely be missed in the forthcoming electioneering season. His fearlessness and tenacity borne by impeccable and insurmountable patriotism will always haunt the corridors of power; the silence generated by his absence will be deafening.

    As Mr Neville’s family and friends mourn his tragic passing, fellow journalists should rededicate themselves to stand up for mother Sierra Leone and the truth to help stem the tide of selfish, ruthless and unpatriotic Politicians in their onward match to erase our country from the surface of the Earth. We have no more tears left.

    This latest unbearable tragedy involving an okada driver should drive the minister of transportation and his government off their backside to device mechanism to diminish okada fatal accidents. Knowing how poor records are kept in Sierra Leone the okada driver who killed Philip Neville may never be found. I hope I am wrong. It’s time for the useless and hopeless minister of transportation to introduce strict policies on insurance coverage for every okada that plies the streets of Sierra Leone .

  7. I wish to express my heart felt condolence to the family ,friends and all who come to know Mr Philip Neville , a great journalist ,a true patriot, and a friend of the people of Sierra Leone and above all else a real son of the soil , who’s work throughout his journalistic career is to seek the truth and tell the truth ,the whole truth but nothing but the truth so the people of Sierra Leone knows what is going on in their own backyard.And armed with that free and unfettered sword of truth ,is able to make informed decisions as to the way their country is governed . As President John F Kennedy once said “ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU , ASK WHAT YOU WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY ” And if any one epitomized and live through to the spirits of those words , and not only read them, and understood there meaning , but also put them into practice for the advancement of Sierra Leone is Mr Philip Neville .The whole of Sierra Leones gives his family and friends , a hug of sowrrows in this difficult time ..We should also celebrate his life because that’s what he was all about .A man of the people .The journalistic landscape of Sierra Leone have lost a towering figure . And there is big journalistic black hole left behind that will be hard to fill . A lost not only to his family ,but a lost to our great country .May his soul rest in perfect peace .Gone but not forgotten .Amen

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