Anyone failing to honour invitation of the Inquiry will face full force of the law – Bio warns

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 January 2019:

Executives of Sierra Leone’s main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) will this afternoon hold a press conference at their party’s offices in Brookfields, Freetown, in response to the launch today, of the Commissions of Inquiry into corruption and mismanagement by former ministers and senior public officials of the previous APC government.

According to the party’s National Publicity Secretary – Cornelius Deveaux, the APC party “will reiterate its position regarding the Commissions of Inquiry which are supposed to be launched today by the government of President Julius Maada Bio……. The media and the diplomatic community are cordially invited. Party members who wish to witness the event may do so. All should be seated at 14:45 hours”.

As the APC continues to press its defiance of the Commissions of Inquiry, president Julius Maada Bio speaking at the launch of the Commissions today, warns: “Let me end by reiterating that all those who will be invited by the Commissions of Inquiry must fully comply. Anyone, I repeat anyone, who fails to honour the invitation of the Commissions of Inquiry will face the full force of the law.”

The three judges that are to chair Sierra Leone’s Commissions of Inquiry into alleged corruption, abuse of office and misdemeanours, by ministers and senior public officials in the former APC government led by president Ernest Bai Koroma, have today – Tuesday 29th January 2019, been sworn into office by president Julius Maada Bio.

Justices Biobele Georgewill – from Nigeria, Bankole Thompson – a Sierra Leonean Judge, and William Annan Atuguba – from Ghana, took their oath of office this morning at State House in Freetown.

Section 147 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991, provides the president with the powers to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into any matter of public interest. Pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, the judges were appointed as Chairmen and Sole Commissioners of the Commissions of Inquiry as established by Constitutional Instrument No.65 of 2018.

This is president Bio’s keynote address delivered at the launch of the Commissions of Inquiry:

The Honourable Speaker of Parliament; The Honourable Chief Justice; Madam First Lady; Former Vice Presidents; The Chief Minister; Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Government present; Honourable Members of Parliament; Paramount Chiefs and Other Traditional Leaders; Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps; Representatives of Our Development Partners; Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Afternoon:

In May last year during my inaugural address, I launched three peaceful democratic wars: first, a war on indiscipline; second, a war on corruption and third, a war on poverty. Today, we are here to affirm that the peaceful democratic war on corruption is unstoppable, unmistakable and winnable.

Corruption remains the single most critical deterrent to the development of Sierra Leone. It impedes human capital development which is the most critical driver of development in every country.

When monies meant for educating our children and youth population are stolen by just few people, that is a threat to our national development.

When monies meant for providing basic social services for every citizen are stolen by just few people to build mansions and buy luxury cars, that is a threat to our national development.

When monies meant for providing healthcare facilities or ensuring food security for every Sierra Leonean are stolen by few people, that is a threat to our national development.

When grants or loans meant for building critical infrastructure that will propel economic activity and provide good paying jobs for our people are stolen by few people, that is a threat to our national development.

When few people collude among themselves and deprive our citizens and country of revenue from our rich natural resources and other sources of public revenue, their activities constitute a threat to our nation.

When people fraudulently convert public funds and resources to their own private use, waste public funds with impunity, and abuse their offices and authority to the detriment of millions of Sierra Leoneans, that is a threat to us as a nation.

And we must also be very clear that when people who occupy public offices steal public monies or engage in other forms of corruption, they do not do so on behalf of their tribe, their region or their political party. Rather, they do so as individuals or a group of individuals and they must be held accountable.

Corruption is a threat to our national development and national security. Corruption is a clear and present danger to the life of every Sierra Leonean and a threat to our existence as a nation. We must confront corruption head on. We must be bold and resolute. We must fight and win this war on corruption.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report has continued to remind us loudly that corruption was one of the main causes of the bloody civil war in this country. Despite strong anti-corruption laws introduced in 2000 and amended in 2008, governance institutions and national development have been perennially weakened by corruption.

Corruption has thrived because there has been a lack of strong political will and the near absence of a steely determination to draw a line under corruption once and for all.

Successive government audit reports reminded government between 2007 and 2018 of gross inefficiencies and deficiencies in governance and public accountability, leakages, and downright squandering of state revenue and resources. The responses were more lip service to fighting corruption, sham trials, and backdoor acquittals and reinstatement of public officials.

Two days after I took up office, I commissioned a Governance Transition Team (GTT) to investigate perceived governance and public accountability issues that had led to the near collapse of the state. Their report concluded that rampant corruption, fiscal indiscipline, and abuse and misuse of public office had left Sierra Leone in a dysfunctional state.

The country was overburdened with debt, a near moribund economy, weakened governance institutions, and gross inefficiencies and injustices in governance processes.

Based on the recommendation of the GTT report for judge-led Commissions of Inquiry, my government requested the legislature to debate and institute the Commissions of Inquiry as required by law.

The Commissions of Inquiry will look at three key issues: governance processes, assets, and the outcomes of the forensic audits. The forensic audits tracked fraudulent activities within entire chains of governance.

The commission on assets will look closely at disparities between income or means and assets. The Commission on governance processes will examine inefficiencies and deficits in governance especially where people deliberately misused public offices or took advantage of state institutions.

The judges have no stake in the politics of our country and they will sit as independent commissioners without bias or prejudice. It is not a political witch-hunt. Nobody is going to be asked whether he or she belongs to a political party or hails from a particular region. It is a simple process.

The Commissioners will ask people questions, investigate what they are told and the evidence put before them, and thereafter present a report of their findings. As a government, we will act on those findings because it is in the national interest and it is for the public good.

We will act on the findings to show Sierra Leoneans, including serving government officials that this must be the last Commission of Inquiry in our history. These commissions will act as a deterrent to every Sierra Leonean who are or will be entrusted with the public trust. They will be a reminder that when one serves one’s country, one must serve with honesty, fairness, justice, diligence, and compassion,

As I have said repeatedly, this war against corruption is a war we must win. I have fully empowered the Anti-Corruption Commission to use all its legal powers to relentlessly investigate and prosecute all cases of corruption even in my administration.

Therefore, let me make this solemn promise to the nation that anyone found wanton of corruption in my administration will be promptly removed from public office and subjected to the full force of the law.

As a government, our fight against corruption is and will remain as consistent as it is robust. As a country, we must put an end to this culture of rampant thieving, abuse, waste, and impunity. We must foster a culture of public accountability.

The Commissions of Inquiry are a public commitment by us as Sierra Leoneans to rid our country of corruption, fraud, abuse, and waste.

Therefore, the war against corruption is not just a fight for my government. I call on all political parties, ethnic groups, regions, NGOs, CSOs, religious bodies and Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad to join the war against corruption. The Commissions of Inquiry are part of our war against corruption.

As a people, the Commissions of Inquiry give an opportunity to hold accountable those we once entrusted with public offices. We owe it to our country; we owe it to our compatriots and generations yet unborn to get it right once and for all. This is about democratic accountability and our collective determination to win the war against corruption.

Let me end by reiterating that all those who will be invited by the Commissions of Inquiry must fully comply. Anyone, I repeat anyone, who fails to honour the invitation of the Commissions of Inquiry will face the full force of the law.

I therefore formally launch the Commissions of Inquiry.

12 Comments

  1. The die is cast.President Bio has stood his ground amidst all the noise APC have been making in a futile effort to browbeat him.

    APC must be reminded that the President has not acted arbitrarily like a dictator would.The mandate to set up the commission of inquiries went through parliament where APC have a majority .Why was the legislation not blocked there until it was amended to accommodate the objections which the party hierarchy are now pontificating.

    President Bio quite simply signed the legislation to make it law.Had it refused to sign it, it would have died a natural death.

    This is the juncture at which Osman Yansaneh and his gang are in need of education.Most importantly,once a piece of legislation becomes law it goes outside the influence of both the legislature and executive branches of government.It is now firmly within the grips of the judiciary for interpretation and application.They can hear or throw out a case brought under such legislation.To do this,one of the most important criteria they use is to ascertain what was the intention of the legislator when passing the legislation.

    Therefore,if APC are convinced that the inquiries are legally flawed their most intelligent action should be to appear before the jurists of the commissions with their lawyers to argue their case.This may well cause the jurists to postpone further hearings while they await clarification from somewhere or they may well ask for the legislation itself – verbatim.

    But there is no turning back now.APC are running scared.For the first time in their history they have have entered uncharted territory where violence is tabooed,only unrefined intelligence can carry the day.If these were the days of Siaka Stevens,Joseph Momoh and Earnest Koroma violence would have since engulfed the country and only God knows where Ben Kaifala would be by now.

    It is quite telling that throughout his speech to formally launch the inquiries,the President kept evoking the law as the means by which everything would be settled.And so he pulled the rug from underneath APC. For the first time they have to fight by clearly defined rules of engagement – a strange world to them.

  2. I personally thank the almighty God for giving us you in our beloved country Sierra Leone as a president. People see corruption as something very simple, but for real is not funny. Fighting corruption is not a joke. It is serious war. Corruption is number one disease that demotes the development of our beloved country every day. Therefore, we should support this particular commission of Inquiry. This is going to be an example for even those in power.

  3. Here they go again underestimating this president. They did during the election and he basically sent most of them to retirement. Now they come up with talking points ‘kangaroo court”, etc.

    Most Sierra Leoneans know how the disease of corruption has destroyed the country for a long time. They voted against corruption and this president knows it. Bet against him at your own peril. Remember he is a retired officer; he is not easily intimidated. He knows why he was voted in.

  4. The opposition is still underestimating this president. They underestimated him during the election and he wiped them out. And here we go again, repeating their talking points about “kangaroo court” etc.

    Folks he is a trained military officer, and is not gonna be intimidated. The sooner you guys get with the program, the better. He has over 50 % support to fight the disease of corruption for all Sierra Leoneans.

  5. Hello – I am very much happy about this inquiry. It will help every Sierra Leonean to know that greed, selfishness, wickedness, and arrogant are not good for our beloved country Sierra Leone. Fellow Sierra Leoneans, treat others the way you wish to be treated. God bless Sierra Leone.

  6. Please give account of your stewardship; a clear mind fears No accusations. If you are afraid of this inquiry, it means you are the devil at work towards this country Sierra Leone. Long Live To All Sierra Leoneans. Please Embrace Peace And Truth And Stability.

  7. The serious flaws in this President Bio’s initiative were and still is in its targeting the immediate past APC Government functionaries and protecting all other preceding ones; it also contemptuously ignores the existence of credible, ethical, and legally tenable Sierra Leone Auditor General’s Annual Reports!

    President Bio continues to not sow the essential seeds for beneficial transparent accountability!

    • Hi Seton. I appreciate your consistency as regards the time frame of the commission of inquiry. To be honest, I also thought the same way at the beginning. But I decided to ignore it and make sure at least something be done against corruption for the time being. From the word go, you wanted the commission to go beyond the 2007 date.

      A commission of inquiry was established during the governments of late President Kabba and former president Koroma to look into corruption; if I am not mistaken. What happened to the findings of those commissions? God alone knows. Does it mean that, corruption was negligible or the commissions were only for the name?

      In my opinion Seton, the commission of inquiry established by late president Kabba should have investigated the NPRC mismanagement and misrule. Likewise, the commission of inquiry established by the APC under former president Koroma should have investigated any corruption under the NPRC and the late president Kabba’s government. But it seems as if nothing happened.

      There are many people like you Seton who are thinking the same way. People will now be scratching their heads for answers to your concerns and the concerns of many Sierra Leoneans. I hope I have answers to your concerns.

    • Mr During, if there are flaws in the setting up of the COI then why not go to court and fight it out. Tolongbo APC has no respect for LAW and ORDER, they believe only in Ernest Bai Koroma. Think about the 2 Sims issue and Sam Sumana saga. I love my LAND more than ANY PARTY.

      If they have problems with the government, let them call the courts in Sierra Leone or the ECOWAS. We have legal channels to vet our misunderstandings and they should use them. Tolongbo APC cannot hold Salone to ransom and I hope the progressives in the party will take over for the good of our COUNTRY!!

  8. APC’s lawlessness is legendary. But will these lawlessness and corruption-prone provocateurs be allowed to get away with it this time? Obviously not. The Commissions of Inquiry were created by an act of parliament. This makes their legality unquestionable. Thus, anyone that fails to honour an invitation by a Commission of Inquiry is in violation of the law. As the president has reiterated, such an individual will face the full force of the law. Enough is enough.

  9. Thanks to God almighty.

    Just do it legally – the good citizens of this world will be with you. It is shameful that we the advisers of the world are not comfortable in our countries.

    We go out into the world best school and teachers in all, everything, but as a country and continent of Africa, only very few of us as people and as a country can be proud of ourselves.

    God knows corruption is the foundation, we fight before elections during elections and even after in the elections when are going to sited down for self accountability. Thanks to Sierra Leone’s new government, God the most high, you and the good people that have feeling for the country and her people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.