Commissions Of Inquiry *Starts January *Ends In 3 To 6 Months


By Pateh Bah

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Madam Priscilla Schwartz Esq. has in a press conference held at State House yesterday disclosed that the approved Commissions of Inquiry (COI) will start January next year.

According to the learned Attorney General, government has targeted three months for the COI but could run up to six months if deemed necessary. She further disclosed that government initially wanted to utilize the Special Court building for the said COI but later realized that refurbishing the building is not cost effective. She continued that the next option was to use the Bank Complex and the police facility at Hastings which was also going to cost a whooping eight hundred billions Leones. She furthered that in order to reduce expenditure it impelled government to make use of four containers at the Special Court building and thereby reducing the cost to six billion Leones. She commended government for providing the requisite leadership which enhances the funding of the COI. She also disclosed that the COI will look into issues like unexplained wealth; regime of collaborators and all persons who committed act of corruption either willfully or complacently. Madam Priscilla Schwartz Esq. affirmed that the COI is not limited to the names in the Governance Transition Team (GTT) report but could also rope other persons found wanting.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice further disclosed that the three judges will be each paid ten thousand United States Dollars with accommodation and vehicle to be provided by government.

On his part, the Chief Minister, Professor David Francis commended the Speaker of Parliament, Dr Abass Cherinor Bundu and The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Madam Priscilla Schwartz Esq. for providing the much needed leadership to ensure that the COI becomes a reality. He pointed out that President Bio is determined to fight corruption, as according to him, the COI is not only for former government officials but would also serve as check for officials in the current administration. The Chief Minister said that recovering monies remains key to support service delivery. He further disclosed that government is using two instruments to recoup some of the stolen monies which are the World Bank Stolen Assets Initiative and UK Serious Fraud Recovery owing to their far reaching mechanisms which the country does not have. He added that such bilateral cooperation would not only help in recouping stolen monies but also eliminate the idea of witch-hunt perceived by some quarters.

Chairman of the occasion, the Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Mohamed Raman Swarray disclosed that according to survey conducted by the government, 81% of the population support the establishment of the COI. According to the Minister, the Commissions of Inquiry have the power to shape attitude, to perpetuate the status-quo or to instigate change as the commissions would serve as key institutional players in holding past and current government officials accountable to the democratic ideals of transparency and accountability. He noted that corruption remains a thorny issue, adding that continuous corruption with impunity could spell doom for the development of the country.