7 January 2019

Sierra Leone: The Upcoming Commissions of Inquiry

editorial

The setting up of Commissions of Inquiry in Sierra Leone is not a novelty. If history could prove us right, Commissions of Inquiry started way back in 1967, when some junior military officers looked into the outcome of the 1967 controversial elections that was contested by Albert Margai and Siaka Stevens. Our former President Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah of blessed memory was subjected to a Commission of Inquiry. While President Kabbah himself did not set up a commission of inquiry possibly due to the governance focus then-installing peace and stability in the country- his successor, former President Ernest Bai Koroma set up the Semega Janneh's commission of inquiry. The aim was to sanitize the governance system but unfortunately the outcome was not made public.

In that vein, we at Concord Times are in full support of the process because public officials need to account for their stewardship of the country. We are of the view that one of the reasons the country is rated as one of the poorest nations on planet earth is that public officials are hell-bent on being corrupt. They amass wealth at the expense of the poor masses and the inquiry could be a sure way of retrieving those underserved wealth.

In as much as we support the process, we are calling on the government to follow due process and respect the dictate of the country's National Constitution of 1991. On the side of parliament, the Speaker was very much prudent and reasonable to have allowed Members of Parliament to debate the instruments. And that is very much healthy for the country's democracy because the debate allowed Members of Parliament on all sides to bring out burning issues surrounding the constitutional instruments that established the commissions of inquiry.

When the now ruling Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) was in opposition, they opposed everything including the sacking of the then Vice President, which was done unconstitutionally by the then ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) administration of Ernest Bai Koroma. As a party that prides itself of being very much democratic and law abiding, the SLPP must be seen doing the needful now that they are in governance.

One of the reasons the APC was kicked out of power was the total disregard for the country's 1991 Constitution and the same would befall the SLPP, if they follow the blue-print of the past regime. While the current regime has been making allusion to the APC in terms of how they wrongly governed the state, we are calling on them to stop living in the past and start doing things in their own way-New Direction.

In all their argument, the APC is saying that they would only adhere to the commission of inquiry if due process is followed. And as the party in governance, the SLPP administration of President Bio should take all restraints to ensure that the outcome of the inquiry is accepted by all and sundry, without flagrant disrespect for the country's constitution.

While we at Concord Times believe in due process, we are calling on the judiciary to set up the Rules of Court Committee as provided for by the 1991 Constitution, to ensure that the process is fair, transparent and credible.

Governing a democratic state is not about being egoistic or vengeful; it is about being rational and reasonable. We are of the view that despite the instruments have been debated and passed into law by Parliament, the contentious issue of Section 150 in the 1991 Constitution, should be looked into to give credence to the process.

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