3 August 2018

Sierra Leone: Justice Georgewill's Commission of Inquiryconstitutional Instrument Laid in Parliament

Members of the Sierra Leone House of Parliament were yesterday notified about the proposed Justice Biobele Georgewill's Commission of Inquiry which is set to investigate public officials and other private individuals mentioned in the Government Transition Report for alleged corruption offences.

The notice was tabled by the Deputy Minister of Justice, Abdulia M. Bangura and it would become law within 21 days if there is no objection from lawmakers.

After the election of President Julius Maada Bio, the new administration set up a Governance Transition Team headed by Chief Minister Professor David Francis. The team released a damning report about the conduct of the previous administration of the now main opposition All People's Congress. The report recommended, among other things, the setting up of a commission of inquiry to look into the excesses of the past administration.

According to the constitutional instrument tabled in parliament yesterday, the commission would, among others, examine the assets and other related matter in respect of persons who were president, vice presidents, ministers, ministers of states, deputy ministers, heads and chairmen of boards of parastatals, departments and agencies between the period of 2007 to April 2018.

The commission would also inquire into and investigate whether assets of previous public officials were acquired lawfully or unlawfully, as well as investigate whether those officials maintained a standard of life above that which is commensurate to their emoluments.

The instrument further reveals that the commission would investigate as to whether public officials own or are in control of pecuniary or property disproportionate to their official emoluments or establish whether there were corruption, dishonesty or abuse of office for private benefits.

In addition, the proposed commission would investigate whether public officials in the previous regime collaborated with any other persons in respect of such corruption, dishonesty or abuse of office.

Also, it would investigate whether public officials acted willfully or complacently in such a manner so as to cause financial loss or damage to the government, local authority or parastatals, including public corporations.

The Nigerian Judge-led commission of inquiry would establish whether public officials acquired directly or indirectly financial or material gains fraudulently, improperly or willfully to the detriment of the government, local authority or parastatals, including public corporation, statutory commission, body or any University of Sierra Leone.

While it is yet to be ascertain as to when the inquiry would commence, it is certain that it would start immediately after it had gone through parliament.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Leone Police had issued a notice calling on all those mentioned in the Government Transition Team Report not to travel out of the jurisdiction, while the Anti-Corruption Commission has already begun investigating persons named in the said report.

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