As Commission Of Inquiry Kicks Off… Sleepless Nights For APC, SLPP Big Guns

 

Stalwarts in both the All People’s Congress (APC) party and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) that served in key administrative, managerial and financial positions in the erstwhile President Ernest Bai Koroma led APC Government are reported having sleepless nights mulling over whether or not their names would be included in the list of those to be investigated by the three Commissions of Inquiry during the course of investigations.

President Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio has, apparently, ushered in a new era of transparency and accountability in the governance of the state and management of its resources that should set the pace for him and his officials to follow with the setting up of the Commissions of Inquiry tasked with the duty of investigating alleged corruption and racketeering by officials of the erstwhile APC Government.

With the three constitutional instruments establishing the Commissions of Inquiry having been enacted, the Justice Biobele Commission of Inquiry into the activities of some 52 officials and siblings of the former government that include erstwhile President Ernest Bai Koroma, former APC presidential candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara, Ministers and Deputies, Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), amongst others, will commence work in November, 2018 with three venues for the sittings earmarked – the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) Senior Officers’ Mess at Kingtom and Police Training School at Hastings on the outskirts of Freetown.

Going by the adage that there is no smoke without fire, those who will face the Commissions certainly have a lot to be worried about. Preliminarily, the Governance Transition Team’s (GTT) Report stated that during its investigations, it unearthed startling cases of grand corruption and racketeering that warranted the team to recommend to President Bio to order the setting up of Commission of Inquiry.

In the commission of a crime, it is known that persons unknown usually aid and abet commission of crime, sometimes even acting as accomplice. That some SLPP big guns served in the former government have worried themselves sick about the Commissions of Inquiry. They are worried that in the course of gathering evidence, some of them would be trapped. Already, those who have been placed under travel ban because their names are on the investigation list are trapped as they cannot leave the country or come in if they are outside.

While the Commissions would impose no penalties, it would however recommend to the government those that it deemed to have fallen foul of the country’s anti-corruption laws to face prosecution in a competent court of law. We all know that anybody found guilty of a criminal offense in a court of law can be fined, sentenced and in the case of corruption proceeds of the deed confiscated by the state. That is why APC is insistent that while they are not against the Commissions of Inquiry, they must be done lawfully, impartially and fairly at every stage.

In an interview with this press, the APC National Secretary General, Amb. Osman Foday Yansaneh affirmed the party’s position of acceptance of the Commissions, stating that the party will not only cooperate with the Commissions, but it will also summon its officials living anywhere to make themselves available to the Commissions when called upon.

Generally, the nation is not averse to the Commissions of inquiry with many stating that it is high time that the country did away with the culture of corruption and impunity. However, what should be known is that the Commissions have the tendency to make or break the nation. Wholesome acceptance of their outcome by the people will critically depend on the neutrality, objectivity and professionalism of the Chairpersons and panels in ensuring that no whiff of a witch-hunt or deliberate targeting of political opponents is not attached to its findings and recommendations.

Truth is healing and the only balm that will unite the nation under the same cause. If done objectively and impartially, as demanded by APC, the Commissions will set the pace and standard for the proper conduct of public officials with regards public assets and how they should be used when entrusted to them. This will not only save the country’s trillions of Leones annually but will also help fast-track national development in all spheres as has been accomplished by countries such as Botswana, Singapore and the People’s Republic of China in the last forty years.

Falsehood or any attempt to turn the Commissions into a charade, as warned against by the opposition National Grand Coalition (NGC), would doom our beloved nation that cries out for unity, freedom and justice for ever into a vicious circle of political tit for tat that ultimately ends up causing civil wars.