Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 January 2019:
Today president Julius Maada Bio issued a strong warning to those who would be called before the Commission of Inquiry to cooperate with the Judges. He said: “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.”
But despite this warning, the National Secretary General of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) party – Alhaji Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh, this afternoon issued a defiant statement at a press conference held at the party’s offices in Freetown. This is what he said:
“The All Peoples Congress (APC) party notes with utmost dismay that the Government of H.E. Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio has today, Tuesday 29th January 2019, launched the Commissions of Inquiry (COI) without taking due note of the concerns raised by the All Peoples Congress (APC) Party and other bodies including the Sierra Leone Bar Association, other Political Parties, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the Inter-Religious Council, All Political Parties Association (APPA), etc.
“The APC Party hereby wishes to reiterate its concerns relating to the constitutionality or otherwise of the COI:
“1. That the instruments establishing the COI are not consistent with the provisions of Section 150 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone which states “Subject to the provisions of this chapter, the Rules of Court Committee shall, by constitutional instrument make rules regulating the practice and procedure of all Commissions of Inquiry.” The APC Party is of the view that this committee was not constituted prior to the enactment of the Constitutional Instruments referred to.
“2. What is more worrisome is that in Section 6(1) of the Constitutional Instruments 64, 65 and 67 the Commissioner has powers to modify, adapt and except himself from abiding by the practice and procedure in force in the High Court if he so feels like it. This is in sharp contrast with the provisions of Section 150 of the Sierra Leone Constitution.
“3. Furthermore, in Section 6(2) of the said Instruments, it is stated that “the Commissioner shall not be bound by the Rules of Evidence in civil or criminal proceedings”. This is also against the spirit and content of Section 150 of the Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
4. We also note with concern, that Section 149, subsection 4 of the 1991 Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone, provides that “Where a Commission of Inquiry makes an adverse finding against any person which may result in a penalty, forfeiture or loss of status, the report of the Commission of Inquiry shall, for the purpose of this Constitution, be deemed to be a judgement of the High Court of Justice and accordingly, an appeal shall lie as of right from the Commission to the Court of Appeal”.
“The APC Party is concerned that this provision gives the Commission the status of a High Court which can recommend penalties that are enforceable by law. The Rules of Evidence applicable in the High Court should therefore apply.
“5. That the source document for the Commissions of Inquiry, i.e, the Governance Transition Team (GTT) report 2018, is replete with tribal, regional and partisan sentiments and incitement and therefore poses a serious national security threat.
“6. The APC Party is even more appalled that in his statement at the launch of the Commissions of Inquiry, the Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone, who is expected to be the custodian of the Rule of Law in the country, has seemingly taken a partisan position that is firmly consistent with that already taken by the President and his Government.
“Therefore, the APC Party wishes to reiterate its position on the Commissions of Inquiry, that its membership is ready and prepared to fully support and cooperate with the Commissions if the aforementioned concerns are addressed.”
With the APC now locked into a dangerous confrontation with the SLPP government, it remains to be seen how this eye-balling war of words will play out.
A few weeks ago, the police questioned key members of the APC party national executive committee, including the chairman and leader of the APC party – former president Ernest Bai Koroma, for statements made by his party executives about the commissions of inquiry, which the police said have the tendency to undermine the peace and security of the country. Any such misleading message – the police said, will be met with the full force of the law.
Will the former ministers and public officials of the previous Koroma-led APC government defy the Judges of the commission of inquiry should they be called upon to answer to allegations of corruption, impropriety and mismanagement?
Will president Bio take his legislative instruments that gave cause to the formation of the Commissions of Inquiry, back to parliament for changes that will meet the demands of the APC executives?
Interesting times ahead for politics in Sierra Leone.
This is what other political leaders think about the launch of the commissions of inquiry (courtesy of AYV TV):
I think we as nation are about to make a difference in the history of our country. This serves as a warning for all who are yearning for political power.
It is not so much about the constitutionality of the Commissions that Osman Yansaneh,Earnest Koroma and all the upper echelon of APC ate fighting for or else they would have seen the swearing in of the commissioners as the most opportune time to shred the whole issue and chasten President Bio to the core of his being.
By swearing in the jurists, President Bio has lost all control of the outcome of the inquiries,all legal technicalities are henceforth in the hands of these three gentlemen who have no dog in the fight.
A sensible Osman Yansaneh would have just implored the rank and file of the APC to hire the best legal brains in the country or the British Commonwealth to appear before the judges to lay bare the case of the party to support the claim that President Bio has not adhered to the constitution in setting up the inquiries,and that it is just out of respect for the jurists that they have bothered to appear.
But the maneuverings of APC are meant less to disrupt the proceedings of the inquiries than to enhance the relevance of the upper class of the party. After all it was by an act of Parliament that life was given to the Commissions of Inquiry.
The voices for a change in the leadership of APC are getting stronger,louder and deafening by the day.Younger members of the party seem to believe that the party is locked in the days of Siaka Stevens which is stifling all efforts to modernise,a move which could see the old guard disappear into oblivion.
Osman Yansaneh,Earnest Koroma,Minkailu Mansaray and others have taken a glimpse into that dark pit of irrelevance and it frightens and saddens them.They are old enough to distinctly remember what happened to Sheki after he handed power to Momoh.They can also recall names like S.I.Koroms [Argba Satani],C.A.Kamara-Taylor[Kamara Baby]and others who,upon becoming a spent force in the party, were made to rot in the shadows.
So clever Osman Yansaneh and his gang would make a lot of noise whenever possible to stay relevant and prolong their political demise at bay.
I’m wondering why my APC is so vehemently opposed and running over- drive on this commission establishment. Please forget about all these senile games about the constitution and go clear your name. \where was the constitution when we arrogantly fired an elected Vice President.
I wonder who Yansaneh is fooling- probably the thieves that have wrecked the party and nation. I will remain APC till death but if you stole the money bring it back. This got nothing to do with tribe or region. Stop this tribal stocking. We care less about processes or procedures. These shenanigans must stop now.
All Sierra Leoneans were very happy about this commission of inquiry. But look at what is happening now that the commission has been launched. Most Sierra Leoneans including myself are now confused.
The APC laid down six points which they see as unconstitutional. Correct me if I am wrong. Does the APC have a point? If so, who are to be blamed for such a catastrophic mistake.
Can anyone out there who knows about the Sierra Leone constitution and the setting up of a commission of inquiry explain to us the points the APC has made? Likewise, can anyone out there explain to us the president and his government’s position and why they think there is no flaw in the constitutionality and legality of the commission? The people of Sierra Leone should know who is right or wrong.
If the APC is right, then the guidelines should be sent back to parliament so that changes could be made. If the president and his government are right, then the APC has no choice but to support and participate in the inquiry. It is very difficult for some of us to comment on matters which are very confusing.
I hope someone out there knows who is right between the APC and the SLPP. All what the people of Sierra Leone are looking for is a constitutional, legal and fair commission of inquiry; so that at the end of it all, every Sierra Leone will support the outcome and be happy. People are really confused now.
It seems to me that the APC has to support and participate in the commission of inquiry set up by the government.
From what I have gathered, parliament agreed on the bill although there were some problems concerning the right Standing Orders.
In September last year if I am not mistaken, the APC raised a motion that the guidelines be debated before being passed into law by parliament. But the Speaker ruled then that the motion used the wrong Standing Order. The speaker did not grant the request. The APC was then upset by the speaker’s ruling.
Parliament then went into recess. After the recess, the speaker ordered the guidelines to be debated, but MPs raising the motion should do so with the right Standing Orders. Fair enough.
In the end parliament and even a civil society activist all welcome the speakers stance of allowing the debate on the guidelines. The APC then said, although they have serious issues to raise during the debate does not mean that they oppose the commission.
Finally, to my understanding, the APC was unable to get the support of 2/3 of the majority in parliament to defeat the bill. So, I do not understand their point about flaws in the guidelines that was debated and voted in parliament. The bill was then sent to the president and signed into law.
From what I have gathered, all officials invited to the commission should comply. The guidelines was debated and voted in parliament in the presence of all the MPs. At the end, the majority carries the vote. That is one of the pillars of our democracy.
I am afraid that all those accused should just comply. One thing they can do is to prove their innocence before the commission. I personally feel sorry for them and understand their plight. Facing a commission of inquiry on corruption charges is not an easy task for anyone.
Finally, I pray that the Almighty God protects the commission, the commissioners and even those facing the corruption charges. GOD BLESS SIERRA LEONE AND IT’S PEOPLE. AMEN AND AMEN.
The New Direction has put a knife on the things that held the APC together and they are no longer at ease. They have gone into a state of confusion and are no longer thinking straight. One moment they are talking about peace and restoration of democracy, the next moment they do not want to respect authorities and the very democracy they want to protect.
This is very paradoxical. The APC set up a commission of inquiry when they were in power and people attended without chaos. In fact not many people knew what was happening because the SLPP at that time conducted themselves as matured politicians and senior citizens.
My fellow country men, you are only exposing yourselves to the people of Sierra Leone. This is just an insinuation of how much you robbed the country and do not want to be exposed. Let me tell you something, I love my president and our president for his firm stance to lift our country from the doldrums by fighting corruption. We know corruption will fight back but you cannot fight a government.
A true patriotic Sierra Leonean will support this commission as we also want to live a better life like other countries. People have made so many references to Sierra Leone now and in the past as one of the poorest, most under-developed, illiterate and darkest country on planet earth.
If this one man (our president, another Moses) is ready to change the face of this country, no one will stand in his way as he was ordained by God to come and free his people. He is honest, genuine, patriotic and very determined to see that he liberates this country.
The people of Sierra Leone will not sit and see a handful of criminals and law breaking hooligans ruin the work of our beloved president. We have suffered enough so if you try to stop this or bring chaos, our president has promised you one thing; and that is you will face the full force of the law.
In fact APC is just putting up a brave face. There is nothing in them. We fear no one and we are going ahead with this commission of inquiry whether you like it or not. God is on our side as we are trying to protect the future of our generations yet unborn.
The country is waiting for your reaction when they commission invites you to appear. President Bio country has warned you in the strongest term if you fail to show up when you are invited. If you have common sense retract that statement that you will not comply. BE WARNED. LONTA
Tolongbo APC = Ernest Bai Koroma. Let all the Progressive Forces within his Party rise up against EBK. Let them put SALONE FOS not EBK. We want good schools, good functioning institutions and good health care and more. EBK cannot continue to hold us back.
Tolongbo APC cannot hold Sierra Leone to ransom. If they have any concern regarding the constitution and the Commission of Inquiry, they should refer the matter to the courts. They must appear before the Commission if called upon and any attempt not to is against the law of SIERRA LEONE. How will a State function when each and everyone has his or her own way of interpreting the laws of the LAND. My advice to Tolongbo APC, please obey the laws of this COUNTRY. It is not SLPP’s LAW but SIERRA LEONEAN LAW!
A law-abiding person always obey the law, and will be considered to be good and honest.
You have the right to do so but by the legal way. No one can stand in the way of the government especially when they are doing the correct thing. You were the former government.
This is a good thing for the people of Sierra Leone because any government that will come now, will think about corruption. God almighty help Sierra Leone.
May the good lord direct mama salone. These are somethings that bring confusion in a country especially the way people are exaggerating it. God guide mama salone.