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.