Sierra Leone: ACC Amendment Bill Heads for Thorough Scrutiny

Members of Parliament yesterday sent the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) bill, 2019, and the Asset Declaration Regulations bill, to the Legislative Committee for thorough scrutiny, with subsequent report expected to be submitted to the plenary for further discussion.

On 1st April,2019, the ACC Commissioner and team met with a cross section of Parliamentarians to discuss the importance of the bill, but they were asked by the Members of Parliament present to delete and do some changes on it, thereafter a draft copy be sent to the committee for another look, a condition that was agreed upon by the ACC team.

Presenting the bill for enactment, Deputy Minister of Justice, Abdulai Masiyambay Bangurah said the memorandum of object and reason behind the bill was to amend the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008, to increase penalties under the Act, strengthen protection of those who assist the Commission, and provide the Commission with alternatives to prosecution.

He added that the bill would help widen the scope in the fight against corruption in the country.

"It will also provide for the administrative sanctions for public officers who fail to submit their asset declaration forms or knowingly record false, inaccurate or misleading information in the forms and vest in the Commissioner, the power to direct that contract may not be proceeded with," he said.

Acting Chairman of the Legislative Committee, Hon. Osman Abdal Timbo, said the Committee did meet with the ACC Commissioner and his team ,adding that they did make meaningful contributions and clarifications that they were not against the fight against corruption, but that there were some clauses that needed to be deleted or omitted.

He said they were happy that the president was trying his best to strengthen the Commission in its fight against corruption, but that the bill should be sent back to the Legislative Committee for further deliberations and scrutiny, with a report made available to the plenary for discussion.

He said the issue of giving powers to the Commissioner to stop the proceeding of a contract was uncalled for, hence the Committee thought it wise that it must be looked into.

He added that there were contentious issues that needed to be addressed before the bill could be enacted into law.

On his part Hon. Hindolo M. Gevao commended the Commission for putting the document together for amendment, stating that there were so many lacunas in the parent Act, which needed to be looked into.

He said if the bill be approved; it will give the Commissioner more powers to fight corruption effectively.

He admitted that the past regime did well in the fight and must be commended, but that the commission needed to be given more powers.

"The current bill is very comprehensive as compared to the parent Act, as there was nothing to write home about. When perpetrators were convicted, the fine given was nothing, but a mere pittance," he said.

Hon. Gevao urged his colleagues to enact the bill within the shortest possible time to prevent people from involving themselves in corrupt practices.

Independent Member of Parliament, Hon Shiaka Sama said the president did promise to fight against corruption and that with the amendment of the bill; it will be a clear manifestation of his promises.

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