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Commission of Inquiry Wahala in Sierra Leone

By Abdul Hassan Fackie (pictured),

Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The Minister of Information and Communications has told 40 Acres Canada that the Commissions of Inquiry will commence later this January 2019.

In an exclusive interview with our media, Mr. Mohamed Rahman Swarray pointed out that the Commissions are not  targeting any individuals or a political party or tribe or region.

He described as very unfortunate the outburst of the Secretary General of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) Mr. Osman Foday Yansanneh, who referred to the upcoming Commissions as kangaroo courts that are out to witch hunt senior members of their party.

He noted that the Commissions are not meant to unnecessarily target any politician, political party or tribe or region but they will investigate the stewardship of key members of the previous APC government under the leadership of former President Ernest Bai Koroma.

He explained the the Government Transition Team (GTT) report indicated that there was massive corrupt practices by the former government and recommended that there was need to set up Commissions to find out how the country's resources were expended by the previous government and make recommendations.

He maintained that while the government has no intentions of jailing those who may be going wanting by the Commissions they want to  recover some of the resources that were acquired through unlawful means.

He revealed that those former government who may not agree with the findings and recommendations of the Commissions have the right to appeal against the findings and recommendations in Court of Appeal.

On their part, the leadership of the former APC government maintains that the Commissions are a ploy by the SLPP government to witch hunt them and send their party into disarray. They are particularly livid with the refusal of the government to let the trials have rules of evidence in which an accused person will have the opportunity to defend himself or herself. 

The Government stresses that they cannot allow rules of evidence be used in the probes as they are not trials but an investigation to ascertain whether the former government officials did corrupt practices. The Information Minister insists that the findings and recommendations will be submitted to the cabinet which will them issue a White Paper either upholding of rejecting parts of the recommendations. He stressed that where recommendations are made for some individuals to be tried in a court and they are upheld by the cabinet, then the rules of evidence can be used in the Court.

From all indications, the opposition main opposition APC seems to have accepted the argument of the government and now seem ready to face the Commissions later this month.

A nation wide survey conducted by 40 Acres Canada has indicated that about 72% of respondents support the holding of the Commissions of Inquiry, 26% is against it while 2% say they do not care.

Already the Secretariat of the Commissions is operational as renovation on the venue, the former Special Court of Sierra Leone building is nearing completion.

The Commissions will be headed by a Nigerian Judge, Justice Biobele to be deputised by a Sierra Leonean Judge, Justice Nicholas Brown Marke and four other Judges who wherein two each will sit on the three Commissions that will last for six months.

The Commissions will  be inquiring and investigating  into the assets of former President, Vice Presidents, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Chairmen and Members of Boards of Parastatals, and other Public Officials who served between September 2007 to March 2018.

The Commissions will be investigating whether these officials maintained a standard of life that is above or commensurate to their emoluments; Whether they own or are in control of resources, pecuniary or property that is disproportionate to their official emoluments in order to establish whether they were corrupt; dishonest; or abused their offices."

The talk of the country now is these Commissions of Inquiry and the anxiety of Sierra Leoneans appears palpable as they await their commencement.