It is no longer strange that whenever elections are around the corner in Sierra Leone, is the time when anyone and everyone takes it upon him/herself to become unofficial mouthpiece for different causes or to fight cases for different individuals or groups.
A story in one of yesterdayâ€™s local tabloid captioned: â€˜SDI Wants Minister Arrestedâ€™ brings into question the intentions of certain highly-placed citizens and the mission of certain institutions which claim to be working in the interest of civil society or promoting human rights and ideals.
Below are excerpts of the story mentioned above: â€œThe Deputy Director of Society for Democratic Initiative in Sierra Leone (SDI-SL), has called on the authorities concerned to immediately arrest and charge the Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Oluniyi Robbin-Coker to court for allegedly violating the Electoral Offences Act 2012 by beating up a former staff of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), one Emmanuel Joseph Saidu while on duty for the electoral body.â€
The report adds: â€œShe said if the minister could be determined to have violated the said Electoral Offences laws, justice should be seen to be above the law.â€
The SDI-SL Director, Rose-Marie Blake noted that â€œthough the minister has been invited to the Congo Cross Police Station for further investigation, it is still not enough.â€
Furthermore: â€œâ€¦according to a report on July 2, the Energy Minister beat up and wounded the former NEC staff Emmanuel Joseph Saidu at the Martilie International School, Hill Station Registration Centre with Code No. 14190 in Ward 387, Constituency 110, while executing his official duty. Saiduâ€™s contract was terminated on July 6 and no further investigation has been conducted on the matter.â€
Placed under the journalistic microscope, it seems like the SDI-SL Director is not satisfied over the manner Police handled the matter. To the SDI-SL Director, it seems to us, that she has no confidence in the Police investigation of the said matter. She seems to further be unhappy because her expectation of seeing the Energy and Water Resources Minister, Oluniyi Robbin-Coker, molested and charged to court for no just cause did not happen! We can safely say, the SDI-SL Directorâ€™s sole objective was to see Oluniyi Robbin-Coker hounded.
Her use of words when she orders the authorities concerned to: â€œimmediately arrest and chargeâ€ the Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Oluniyi Robbin-Coker, speaks volumes of the fact that she had not even gotten the side of the minister, to ascertain what actually had transpired between the former NEC official and the minister, but went ahead to swallow the formerâ€™s story hook, line and sinker. Or, could there be an ulterior motive, or sinister agenda to disgrace Oluniyi Robbin-Coker at all cost as we draw closer to the November 17, 2012 polls?
On the other hand, we totally agree with the SDI-Director when she asserts that: â€œif the minister could be determined to have violated the said Electoral Offences laws, justice should be seen to be above the law.â€ As stated earlier, we totally agree that no one not even the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone is bigger than the law.
However, the SDI-SL Director conradicts her views when she asserts that: â€œthough the minister has been invited to the Congo Cross Police Station for further investigation, it is still not enough.â€ This statement only reveals her contempt and low esteem she holds the Sierra Leone Police (SLP). In fact, in all her statements, she tries to impress on the minds of anyone who cares to read or listen to her argument, that in fact, the Minister of Energy and water Resources, Oluniyi Robbin-Coker actually did beat up the NEC officer in question in the full view of witnesses, because she does not use the term â€˜allegedlyâ€™.
We hold no brief for Oluniyi Robbin-Coker and neither do we hold anything against the SDI-SL Director Rose-Marie Blake. Our concern in all this however, is that it seems odd that an institution which should be seen supporting the work of the Police, is the very one casting aspersion on the Police. This is not to say the Police are above board. It is only to say that in this particular case, the complainant Emmanuel Joseph Saidu, does not seem to be the one pressing for charges to be leveled against Oluniyi Robbin-Coker.
It is not unreasonable to state that if the alleged complainant Emmanuel Joseph Saidu had felt so distressed, disgruntled and mad over his beating by a minister as alleged by the SDI-SL Director, we are cocksure Emmanuel Joseph Saidu would have taken Oluniyi Robbin-Coker to court, if not for anything, but to rankle a minister and in the process make himself â€˜famousâ€™.
With respect to the SDI-SL, we see it as unbecoming of an institution which is supposed to be soothing tempers; positively preparing the minds of Sierra Leoneans and preaching tolerance, as we move towards the November 17, 2012 elections to be drawing daggers for a NEC worker Emmanuel Joseph Saidu who we understand had been relieved of his duties. The latter however, was and seems to want to let sleeping dogs lie. So whatâ€™s all the fuss about?
It is our view that Oluniyi Robbin-Coker should not be distracted at his job with petty issues; espeacially now that elections are around the corner, because NEC would definitely want the lights to be on for the ballot counting process!