Sierra Leone is an interesting country more so when it comes to matters of political importance-grave ones too. That is the time one will notice the immense political treachery in this part of the world.
The commissions of inquiry that the government intends to set up is in place because the people have right to know about the way and manner their lives and the country were managed in the ten years spell of President Koroma and his All People Congress Party in power.
As such, on August 3 the deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice laid to constitutional instruments dubbed 64 and 65 in the well of parliament for the 21 day statutory period.
But the single largest party in parliament which happens to be the party that was in government has raised number of issues with the constitutional instruments for which one of their members, Hon Daniel Koroma wrote a notice for the constitutional instrument to be debated with in the 21 day statutory period.
According to Leader of the leader of the APC in Parliament, Hon Chernoh Maju Bah over 34 MPs have signed the notice which means that the instruments should be subjected to serious debate.
The Clerk of Parliament told Dixon’s Pen that he was going to issue the certificate for the executive to carry on with the constitutional instruments as long as he has the speaker did not countenance the notice of the said Member of Parliament.
What if the concerns the opposition have are genuine ones? What if the instruments are debated and fine tuned for the sake of fairness? What if the opposition just wants to elongate the establishment of the commission of enquiry?
I believe some of the issue raised by not only the APC but all the National Grand Coalition Leader are genuine. The APC leader in Parliament told Dixon’s Pen that they are not against the establishment of the commissions of inquiry but that they just want it to be within the confines of the law.
Fair enough if that is what they wanted and I think the Speaker should bend backward over to allow them debate the instrument.
“ For instance, they said that the commission should not used the High Court Rules, then whatever rules they would be using should be passed by the supreme legislative authority,” Hon Chenor Maju Bah stated.
It is indeed true that in Sierra Leone the supreme legislative authority pursuant to section 73 subsection 2 and section 106 subsection 1 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone
Also section 170 of the 1991 constitution is very clear about rules and regulation and about constitutional instrument of such nature. Therefore I believe common sense should prevail for the sake of fairness.
Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella of the NGC also expressed his opinions on the commissions of inquiry and those opinions are sacred and could be looked into.
The NGC Leader wants the scope of the commission to be expanded so that it will include the Permanent Secretaries and Vote Controllers because according to him they are at the heart of financial transactions in all government institutions and parastatals so that the commissions of inquiry will be credible.
He also asserted that the inquiries must also be thorough and fair to allow the innocent to go free and the guilty to face the full penalty of the law.
The most important thing he mentioned is the time frame of the commission and he puts it, “to prevent abuse of human rights and freedoms, the tenure of the Commissions cannot be open- ended. They must be time bound and able to complete their work within one year to ensure that the current Executive Branch does not use it to go after those who will challenge their future excesses.’’
These are legitimate concerns that must be hearken to so as to dispel the old-aged perception about commissions of inquiry which was even established in the memoir of President Kabbah that commissions of inquiry are normally set up to target political opponents in Sierra Leone.
According to former President Kabba, the 1967 Beoku-Bettes commission of Inquiry did find Tejan Kabba wanting, but instead of asking government for his prosecution, the commission advised that Kabbah should not be encouraged or allowed to hold any public post but later in 1973, through government correspondence, a letter from the Attorney General’s office vindicated Kabbah of any wrong doing.
On the flip-side, what if the position of particularly the APC is just time-buying and wasting so as to eschew justice for the looting the people’s money.
Didn’t the APC set up a commission of inquiry to look into the affairs of former President Kabbah? Why should they be so jittery? What if they are not jittery and their concerns are genuine? Well your guess is as good as mine