Speaker Okays Commissions Of Inquiry

 

Parliament late yesterday, Monday 22nd October, 2018 voted on the motion for the establishment of three Commissions of Inquiry as recommended by the Governance Transition Team (GTT) Report to investigate fifty-two former government officials and their associates.

5 Members of Parliament were reportedly on official duties out of the country whilst about 141 MPs voted on the motion. But neither those in favour of the motion nor those against had the required two-thirds (94 votes) votes needed for the Commissions of Inquiry to be established or thrown out of Parliament.

Following the announcement of the results which the ‘Aye’ had the majority, the Honourable Speaker of Parliament Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu declare the motion not passed. He informed the House that since there was no two-thirds majority, the three Constitutional Instruments – 64, 65, 67 of 2018 would continue to mature at midnight last night. “They will continue to run their maturity until midnight,” the Speaker stressed.

According to the Honourable Speaker, the 21 days required for the three Constitutional Instruments elapsed midnight and it is expected that today Tuesday, 23rd October, 2018, he will order the Clerk of Parliament to issue the necessary certificate to the Executive arm of government for the establishment of the three Commissions of Inquiry.

The Speaker thanked the lawmakers for their participation in the debate which, he said, “clearly demonstrated that our democracy is taking deeper root on the soil of Sierra Leone.”

During the debate in the Well of Parliament, Hon. Daniel Koroma of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party said the rule of evidence was against High Court proceedings and humanitarian laws, thereby giving space for hearsay, defamation and other legal violations.

Another APC Member of Parliament, Hon. Abdul Kargbo of Constituency 077 said since the Commissions of Inquiry possess the risk of stripping people of their freedoms, properties and more, it should be in accordance with previous laws and regulations. He furthered that the current President who declared a Commission of Inquiry under the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) left a decree preventing inquiries to into his affairs and as such, the constitutional instruments are discriminatory. Hon. Kargbo added that Commission of Inquiry focuses on procedures and actions but the proposed Commissions of Inquiry focus on individuals but however leaving out other key stakeholders like Permanent Secretaries, citing Denis Sandi.

An independent Member of Parliament, Hon. Sheka Sama supported the establishment of Commission of Inquiry but emphasized that it should be free of bias and discrimination, whilst Hon. Nyuma of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) requested the APC lawmakers to accept the establishment of Commissions of Inquiry before deliberating on the rules of proceedings to display their innocence in the issues of misappropriation of public funds and assets whilst in office.

Hon Kaisamba of the SLPP welcomed the precedent of establishment of Commission of inquiry given the fact that their party is free of corrupt acts, emphasizing that the corrupt actions of the past government left unchecked would not be good for the country.

Hon. Foday Mario Kamara of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) said the Commission of Inquiry should be inclusive of Permanent Secretaries with stipulated time for completion of its tasks and that the documents should only be passed after review by Government to protect transparency and rule of law.

Hon. Rebecca Yei Kamara of Coalition for Change (C4C) supported the establishment of Commission of Inquiry and arguments put forth by all the opposition, including the review and proper drafting of the constitutional instruments. She however questioned the action to be taken upon completion, if any.

The Minority Leader of C4C, Hon. Emerson Lamin argued that Sierra Leone is plagued by politics skewing current debate, citing several issues raised and according to him, there is no heroism in rudeness.

BBC’s stringer, Umaru Fofana, observed that the APC has been far more effective and efficient in opposition than the SLPP were in that role for the last five years. He was impressed by the APC Majority Leader of Parliament, Hon. Chernor Bah, who was called by the speaker for a bite of the cherry. He kindly declined, saying he would rather his party members exhausted their contribution before he could speak. That was the characteristics which the SLPP Minority Leader for five years grossly lacked.