APC, SLPP In Trouble

 

The English have a saying: What is good for the goose is good for the gander. With regards the much talked about Commissions of Inquiry which because the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) failed to get the two-thirds vote of the House of Parliament required to annul it now becomes law, Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Hon. Mohamed Sidi Tunis, has explained that the inquiry is not just for past government officials.

He maintained that it will also serve as deterrent to the current administration. He made the clarification whilst contributing to the heated debate on the three constitutional instruments setting up the Commissions of Inquiry that took place in Parliament on Monday, 22nd October, 2018.

“I am calling on all my colleagues on the other side to vote for Constitutional Instruments 64, 65 and 67 to become a law, as the Commissions of Inquiry will not just audit past government officials but current ones,” he told his colleague MPs.

He pointed out that the essence of the inquiry is to deter public officials from misappropriating resources with impunity and in the process, enriching themselves at the expense of the masses. The inquiry, he said, would investigate past and present officials for funds allocated to them for development projects.

In a public statement, the Chairman of the opposition National Grand Coalition (NGC) which supported the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) to set up the Commissions of Inquiry underlined that the Government Transition Team report alleged that serious corruption and mismanagement took place during the rule of the former government. The NGC statement affirmed that the GTT report to the government to set up Commissions of Inquiry to investigation the allegations was a step in the right direction.

The NGC statement declared that corruption brought the state to near collapse. Thus, it is too serious an issue to be reduced to a political game, citing that corruption is at the heart of all the country’s problems. Corruption, NGC said, penetrated our governance systems, devoured out institutions and ate into the mindset of our people. The Commissions of Inquiry, it said, will give the people a true picture of how the country was managed in the past ten years – Hence the NGC’s call for it.

NGC in the statement advised that where discovery of grand corruption is found out by the Commissions, the matter should be forwarded to a court of law in respect of the rule of law.

The NGC statement in giving the reason for supporting the Inquiry said that they promised during the 2018 elections that if they won they would save the nation from decay. Thus, they support the government’s desire to investigate corruption, with the proviso that due process is followed. That said, NGC supports the government to unravel corruption. The inquiry must ensure that facts are made known, and ensure that the culture of impunity and ‘boff case’ are properly addressed.

In recommending what the outcome of the inquiry should be, the NGC statement said that to discourage theft of state resources by those they are entrusted to, all what the inquiry finds out was stolen must be recouped and the culprit or culprits jailed.

The inquiry, NGC further said, must not only be retrospective but should also take in current government officials; especially vote controllers and permanent secretaries that served in the former administration; citing that a minister cannot do wrong without their knowledge and connivance.

To ensure that the inquiry is not seen as a witch-hunt, NGC recommended that the rules must be consistent, thorough and impartial to allow the innocent to establish their innocence and the guilty to face the full penalty of the law.

To prevent abuse of human rights and freedoms, NGC recommended that the inquiry must be time bound – at most one year, as justice delayed is justice denied. This will give time for those who want to appeal to do so.

The government, NGC’s statement ended, must ensure that the inquiry is not a charade as it provides the opportunity for the nation to have insight into whether the New Direction is truly a movement for change and progress.

NGC’s thinking on this all-important but highly controversial national matter syncs with that of the majority of the populace, including even the All Peoples Congress party who during the debate stated that they support transparency and accountability, and so are nit against the commission of inquiry but insisted that it should be rule bound, free, fair, open, transparent and not targeted at only former APC government officials, citing that if any corruption took place under their government, they have partners that are Green that held important positions in their government.

Any attempt by the inquiry to be selective of only APC officials, the party subsumes would be tantamount to a witch hunt. In which case, the outcome of the inquiry would be suspect and will haunt the nation for a long time to come, as it will unleash a chain of tit for tat every time power changes hands which will definitely not be good for the peace, unity and development of the nation.