Commission Of Inquiry Debate Today

 

The Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu is reported to have declared that lawmakers will today, Thursday 11th October, 2018 debate the three Constitutional Instruments 64, 65 and 76  that were laid in early September and October before the House by the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

The instruments seek validity from the House of Parliament to set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the conducts of some 52 public officials that served in the Koroma administration between 17th September, 2007 and 3rd April, 2018.

The request to set up the Judge-led Commission of Inquiry came out as a recommendation made by the Professor David Francis led Governance Transition Team that alleged wide scale corruption and racketeering by the former All People’s Congress (APC) Government which the report states needs judicial investigation and forensic examination by the Auditor General.

With the first two instruments laid in Parliament just before the august body called a short recess in September, the main opposition APC raised a motion that the instruments must be debated before being passed into law by the House. At the time, the Speaker ruled that the APC MP that raised the motion used the wrong Standing Order and so the request could not be granted by him.

That threw APC MPs into a stormy protest with Hon. Chernoh Bah, Hon. Hassan Sesay and Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo vehemently arguing that the ruling party was trying to muzzle the opposition by denying debate on the instruments setting up the Commission of Inquiry which they said targets principally their members.

Parliament called one month recess with the issue unresolved. During the recess, a delegation of British MPs visited the Parliament of Sierra Leone and held discussions with many government functionaries including the Speaker of Parliament. When Parliament resumed sittings, the Speaker announced that after holding consultations on parliamentary proceedings, and guided by the rulings of courts of justice, he was ordering a full blown debate of the instruments. However, the MP raising the motion must do so using the correct Standing Order.

He furthered that the debate would be covered live by both the electronic and print media for the consumption of the nation.

Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Hon. Mohamed Sidi Tunis commented that a lot would be learnt as MPs from both sides of the aisle. He maintained that there was nothing controversial about the instruments as the Judge-led inquiry that they asked for would give opportunity to the defendants to prove themselves guilty or innocent. The MP however said the debate would not change anything about the instruments.

A civil society activist, Thomas Moore Conteh, whose organization raised concern to the Speaker on the question of not debating the instruments, welcomed the Speaker’s announcement with happiness, stating that in the country’s democratic dispensation, there should be space for dissenting views on how the country is run.

Commenting on the Speaker’s declaration, APC said they have serious issues to raise during the debate, noting that it does not mean that the party is opposed to the Commission of Inquiry.