Commissions Of Inquiry Commence

 

President Bio’s insistence on transparency and accountability in the public sphere in order for good governance to prevail, enabling the government to better deliver on its election promises will take a significant step forward today with the launching of the three judge led Commissions of Inquiry that will look into the financial activities of the former government dating from November 2007 to April 2018.

The commission, dubbed by the President and the Attorney General as “the people’s commission” will inquire into the assets of persons that were President, Vice President, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other public officials of the former government including lands, houses, bank accounts, shares in companies, cars and other property of economic value.

The ceremony launching the commissions will take place today at the site of the Sierra Leone Peace Museum in the former Special Court for Sierra Leone yard, at Jomo Kenyatta Avenue in Freetown. President Bio who has vowed to put a tight lid on corruption in the country during his regime is expected to be the guest speaker.

The commissions will be led by Justice Biobele Georgewill from Nigeria, Justice William Annan Atuguba from Ghana and Dr. John Bankole Thompson a retired Sierra Leonean jurist resident in the USA.

According to a press statement issued on 17th December, 2018 by the Secretariat of the COIs in the Law Officers Department, “The COI will implement a key manifesto promise of President Bio to combat corruption, bring accountability in governance and foster economic growth for the people of Sierra Leone.”

President Bio has in the months and days running up to the inquiries drawn opprobrium from the All People’s Congress for his use of the word ‘ayampi’ to refer to the APC officials that will face the commissions; with the party charging that President Bio has found their officials guilty before the investigation which they claim is prejudicial to the course of justice.

Another vexatious issue that APC has vehemently protested against is the non-inclusion of rules of evidence in the statutory instruments that set up the COIs. This, APC says, is in contravention of Section 150 of the 1991 Constitution, and said if the rules are not included; its officials will not subject themselves to what the APC Secretary General called a ‘kangaroo court”.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the COIs will commence sittings after the launching ceremony today, as the Sierra Leone Bar Association has filed a petition to the Supreme Court praying for the highest court in the land to interpret the country’s laws with regards the rules for the setting up of commissions of inquiry.

In a public notice from certain members of the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA) maintained that their action “is motivated and guided by respect for the rule of law; an important component of which is fair due process and the protection of the law.”