Francis L. Hindowa (NGC): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 June 2018:
The National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party is seriously concerned about the process used by President Julius Maada Bio to remove from office the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Mr. Ade Macauley. The NGC believes that the process grossly violated the Anti-Corruption Commission Act-2008 and undermined that institution’s integrity and independence.
Whilst the Party has no intention to hold brief for the Commissioner or his replacement in terms of competence and performance, the NGC fears that there are bound to be serious implications and consequences for the future of democracy in Sierra Leone if such blatant disregard for due process and the rule of law were to continue.
The NGC is equally concerned that soon after the President declared in Parliament on the occasion of the State Opening of the Fifth Parliament of The Second Republic of Sierra Leone (paragraph 138) that “the New Direction Government will commit itself to adhere to the rule of law and institutional reforms to maintain law and order in society”, his government has violated the ACC Act by the manner in which he has removed the ACC Commissioner from office.
Our Party also finds it disturbing that the Deputy Speaker has used his authority to ensure that the SLPP Minority in Parliament approves a report the majority of the Select Committee on Appointments have termed “fraudulent”.
We believe that the House of Parliament has allowed itself to be complicit in disregarding due process and the rule of law by approving the appointment of the Commissioner’s replacement when viewed against Section 4 (4) of the ACC Act 2008 which provides security of tenure by insulating the ACC Commissioner from outside influence or pressure.
The Section clearly states that: “The Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner, may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or for stated misconduct.” Section 4 sub-sections 5-8 set out the procedure to be used to remove the Commissioner from office.
The Section makes clear that the Anti-Corruption Commissioner cannot be removed from office without going through the procedure set out in the Act, which includes approval by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. In this case, no reason has been given for the removal of the ACC Commissioner from office and it is therefore obvious that due process according to the procedure set out in the ACC Act 2008 has clearly not been followed.
The NGC is not oblivious of the fact that the Ernest Koroma-led APC Government committed numerous acts of violations of the Constitution and various laws during its ten years in governance, including the illegal removal from office of the then Chief Justice and the Governor of the Central Bank.
Sierra Leoneans can recall that these illegal actions by the Executive were vehemently opposed by the SLPP, then in the opposition, to the point where its Members in Parliament staged a walk-out.
It is therefore highly ironical that now that the same SLPP is the government, it is ready to compromise the very principles it stood for by condoning illegality rather than keeping its promise to the people of upholding the rule of law.
The NGC notes that despite the protestations of its Leader in Parliament and other opposition parliamentarians, in relation to the glaring procedural anomalies in the removal of the Anti-Corruption Commissioner and the appointment of his replacement, Parliament has gone ahead and approved the appointment and the nominee has been sworn into office.
We wish to remind all concerned that democracy is not simply about elections. It is mostly a question of upholding the rule of law. If as a nation we do not respect the rule of law at all levels and at all times and are prepared to sacrifice what is right on the altar of expediency, it will be impossible to consolidate democracy in Sierra Leone. Consequently, the growth and development we all desire will continue to elude us as a nation.
About the author
Francis L. Hindowa is the National Secretary-General of Sierra Leone’s National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party.