The Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone has overwhelmingly approved the appointment of Mr. Melron Nicol-Wilson as new Ombudsman, on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. This follows him being named by H.E President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as the replacement to Justice Edmond Cowan – a long-standing legal icon, who now chairs the Sierra Leone Constitutional Review Committee.
The Parliament’s decision to approve Mr. Nicol-Wilson was anticipated, as the high-profile human rights lawyer emerged unscathed from an exchange of views with Members of Parliament.
Hon. Ajibola Manley Spain, Chairman of Parliament Legislative Committee, said: “despite his youthfulness, (Mr. Nicol-Wilson) has the experience and qualification to act as Ombudsman”.
During the parliamentary session, Mr. Nicol-Wilson addressed MPs and the media briefly, declaring himself, “elated, honoured and humbled” and promising to be a “champion for justice and human rights” and paying tribute to the principles of unity, freedom, justice, impartiality, independence, and patriotism. Mr. Nicol-Wilson pledged in his interview session before the Parliamentary Committee to be impartial and apolitical in his approach to the office of the Ombudsman.
“I am grateful to President Koroma for this appointment. It is an enormous privilege to take up the position of Ombudsman for Sierra Leone. I appreciate that this is not a political position and so I have an independent role to perform. I hope to work with people from all walks of life and on both sides of the aisle, in defence of human rights, justice and the Rule of Law,” Mr. Nicol-Wilson said.
The appointment of Mr. Nicol-Wilson marks a tremendous victory for justice and human rights in Sierra Leone. Mr Nicol-Wilson is expected to bring in reforms to the office of the Ombudsman and further advance the work of the office, creating a more effective and efficient Ombudsman’s Office that will put a check to mal-administration and injustice in the public service, as well as check the excesses of public officials, with the aim of creating a culture of justice and human rights within the public service in Sierra Leone.
“If anything, Mr. Nicol-Wilson’s appointment is amongst the best ever announced by President Koroma since assuming office ten years running”, said Mr. Theophilus Sahr Gbenda, a prominent Sierra Leonean journalist and Human rights campaigner, who served as chairperson for the Association of Journalists on Mining and Extractives (AJME).
Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, Executive Director Society for Democratic Initiatives, who has known Mr. Nicol-Wilson for over fifteen years, said: “I don’t often agree with President Koroma on his appointment and have dime view of his human rights and governance credentials, but I am full throttle on the appointment of Mr. Nicol-Wilson. Thank you Mr. President for bring the people’s voice to serve in his constituency. He is uniquely qualified to be Ombudsman.”