Rule of law and accountability – significance of joint letter signed by NGC and APC

Alan Luke: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 February 2021:

Sierra Leone is at cross-roads. For the first time in recent memory the opposition leaders in Parliament are holding the Presidency to account. It seems Chernor Bah and his colleagues in the Africanist Press have caused a seismic shift in our polity, and they will have their day in the people’s court soon.

When I read the joint-letter from Hon Chernor Maju Bah and Hon Kandeh Yumkella addressed to the parliament of Sierra Leone, I wondered whether the two leaders were merely bluffing and did not have the authority to ask the presidency to subject itself to further parliamentary probe.

Some legal friends helped me understand that because the 1991 constitution is a high breed of the United States and Westminster traditions, Parliament was given a lot of powers as a co-equal arm of government, to hold the executive branch to account.

Parliament is also the sole body that can appropriate money to any entity, including the Presidency.

So it begs the question, did Parliament ever appropriate money to the Office of the First Lady? Did the government use illegal means to allocate over $3 million to that office, a sum higher than the combined funding allocated to three government ministries and agencies put together (Labour and Social Security, Gender and Children’s Affairs and Youth Affairs)?

Can the Office of the Chief Minister authorize spending beyond what was approved by Parliament? Can the Minister of Finance or the President authorize extra budgetary spending as they see fit, without Parliament’s approval?

Well, under section 93, the framers of the constitution were worried about executive overreach, especially given the horrible one-party state experience, so they vested in Parliament “all such powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court at a trial” to investigate and subpoena persons and documents in exercise of their oversight function.

The relevant subsections in Section 93 are: Sub-section (3) “It shall be the duty of any such Committee as is referred to in sub-section (2) to investigate or inquire into the activities or administration of such Ministries or Departments as may be assigned to it, and such investigation or inquiry may extend to proposals for legislation”.

Sub-sections (4) “Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section  (1) and (2), Parliament may at any time appoint any other Committee to investigate any matter of public importance”.

Sub-section (6) “For the purposes of effectively performing its functions, each of the Committees shall have all such powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court at a trial in respect of: (A) enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath, affirmation or otherwise, (B) compelling the production of documents; and (C) the issue of a commission or request to examine witnesses abroad”.

The above gives Parliament the responsibility to investigate these serious allegations including interviewing all those institutions cited in the allegations (both domestic and abroad), and to examine the documents they might possess.

Africanist Press stand ready and stand by; your day has come. The revelations which you have made public is one that Parliament will have to review. It is not just for the Anti-Corruption Commissioner to paper over the cracks.

EDITOR’S NOTE: LISTEN TO RADIO DEMOCRACY INTERVIEWS THE EDITOR OF THE AFRICANIST PRESS CHERNOR BAH:

 

 

16 Comments

  1. Thanks Comrade Sahr Matturi. You are not doing bad as well. You are writing with authority, ease and eloquence. Let’s keep the inertia going – I mean including ‘Special Agent’ Young4na and the ‘Awesome’ STARGAZER. What a formidable team!

  2. S.M.O.G.” SAVE ME O GOD”, brother Sahr Matturi, misinterpretation was the cause for the fall of the Ghana empire. My statement “For the first time in the history of this country’s politics, the opposition leaders have combined together with parliament, to hold the presidency to account”, with your interpretation came with different meanings. Let me explain it clearly as quote: “I said, it never happened here yet under any previous administration without consequence”. As a proud Sierra Leonean, I can expose my identity anywhere in the world telling people that, my country practiced and implemented” DEMOCRACY”. How many times did the former President, H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma ask and demand for more time? How many times did EBK attempt to run for third term brother? Let us speak the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth.

    His former social welfare secretary; Dr. Sylvia Blyden was surprisingly fired from her job, because she exposed her boss, can you dispute that? How many allegations Chief Sam Sumana was accused of with fabricated lies about his faith and religion, they went after him, even to the University he attended in USA; that is why I personally got angry with him. I do not care even if his leadership trend should be in the hands of APC, I rather say thank you. Definitely the whole world knew that, APC party is corrupt, no other party else can defeat them period. Have a look at the history, EBK is still the chairman of the party do you know why? Because he is seeking(protection). But no-one talking about that, but instead you only worried about the 2023 poll. Sahr Matturi, you know, I love you so much, I do benefit much from your articles the way write I like it, and trust me, I always pray for you so that God Almighty will increase more on to your knowledge brother. Stay bless.

  3. This was the missing link in the Opposition Structure in the Legislative arm of government: a concerted opposition made up of the APC, NGC and C4C that can guide the tyrannical paopa SLPP government within the parameters of the country’s constitution and be prepared to hold it accountable especially for any infringement of civil liberties, violation of human rights and reckless misappropriation of public funds. The non-effective opposition and the consequent arrogance and ruthlessness exhibited by the government was partly due to the fact that, instead of the fringe parties NGC and C4C working in tandem with the main opposition APC party to form a formidable opposing force, they were more or less propping up the ruling party against any existing opposition.

    The apparent shift, or GAME CHANGER, in policy by the NGC can be attributed to many factors including: the change in administration in the US; the disclosure in the 2019 Audit Report of rampant embezzlement of resources by the ruling party never seen in the history of the country; and most recently, the unravelling by the Africanist Press of intricate corruptive mechanisms involving the inner core of the government.

    Moreover, the momentum of the infamous paopa SLPP has been diminishing through a series of domestic and international bombshells, together with the irritating and thorny Yenga issue, and the continuous dwindling economic fortunes in the country. Perhaps, the NGC are contemplating on the beginning of the rapid erosion of political influence and waning popularity of the ruling elite. Probably, a new chapter in the politics of Sierra Leone is in the making.

  4. Our Honorable Speaker of Parliament should stay focused on dealing with the real constitutional issues like the Budget Committee addressing the 2019 Audit Report. Unfortunately, some of the findings of the Auditor General had been leaked to the Africanist Press, which they printed on both electronic and social media, to coincide with the release of the Government White Paper even before the Audit Report was released to the public. Our Opposition members calling for an investigation of leaked information is like the US Congress asking for the investigation of information from whistler blowers like Edward Snowden or Julian Assange (WikiLeaks) who are both wanted for illegally hacking government classified informations and released them to the public under the disguise of journalists. They are both wanted by the USA and Australian governments but are still seeking asylum abroad.

    I personally believe that while the parliamentary Budget Committee are dealing with the Audit report and later get the ACC involved for any investigation of corruption, the Homeland or National Security Committee should start investigating whether the informations released by the Africanist Press was leaked by government officials or our government computer systems had been hacked by the two Americans working with Chernor Bah, which is a crime based on the fact that it is a breach of our National Security. Our ambassador in the USA can even ask the FBI for help if needed, since even the USA are now waging war against Cyber Criminals and Hackers. I hope and pray that the Honorable Speaker will not be distracted by cheap political games.

    • We have the DSTI in place. Don’t they have the good guys(ethical hackers) to take care of the government’s computer network systems? What is the DSTI doing besides coding and 3D modelling? Please find out Mr Alusine Fallay and inform me. We don’t need the FBI to help us. Sierra Leone can train its own cyber security and forensic experts easily, instead of allowing DSTI officials to claim huge sums of unnecessary par diem for no good reasons. Thanks Mr Alusine Fallay for your contribution on this glorious platform and may God bless you and the Africanist press.

    • Brilliant, wise commentary and great stuff there, by Mr Alimamy Turay. Dr Kandeh Yumkella has figured out how dangerous it can be to prop up a leader and his kakistocracy that have hijacked a political party with serious-minded people like the SLPP party. If the SLPP party had listened to the late President Tejan Kabba’s advice and that of the late Vice President Solomen Berewa, the party would not have been in such a political, financial and leadership mess. I believe that the Africanist press has more damming revelation against this kleptocracy regime. None of the accused persons have come publicly to argue to deny anything. Again, silence means consent.

      Now is time for the opposition to use these damning reports as a springboard to put pressure on the Bio SLPP kleptocracy till 2023. We are ready as a backup. What is wrong with that? The momentum is there and is sustainable. It will be a disaster if the opposition sits idle and lets this kleptocracy regime get away with this blatant financial corruption against Sierra Leone’s people. We are now in Global America and Global Britain. These two great countries have no-nonsense leaders and will take care of all undemocratic, rogue and evil regimes engaged in any form of corruption and tyranny against the vulnerable and marginalised in society.

      My advice for the opposition is to make this moment their time. You have the political tools at your disposal to put this kakistocracy and kleptocracy regime out of business in 2023. You can do it, ladies and gentlemen of the opposition. Stand ready and stand-by Sierra Leone’s people and go politically nuclear at the ballot box in 2023. Thank you very much, Mr Alimamy Turay, as always and may God bless you and our opposition. Yeah.

    • Alusine Fallay, no computer was hacked. This is not a cybercrime. This is not an investigative journalism as some would want us to believe. All documents published by the Africanist Press waere handed to them by someone at the Auditor General’s office. The government, MDA are obligated to hand over ledgers, receipts and documents requested by the AG’s office for annual auditing. Auditor on the other hand are required to give a report that contains their observation, conclusion and recommendations to close any leakages. They don’t make recommendations on punishment or further investigation. That is the domain of parliament. Auditor will lose their credibility and in some cases clients if they sell or cause to be published any documents that was handed over to them in good faith. Only parliament has the power to request from the editors – copy of the documents they used in their work.

      Even before the Audotor’s Report came out, documents and thier observations where published by the Africanist Press and in some instances the sentences used by the Africanist Press were the same contained in the audit report when it was published.

      Unless one is a novice about Audit procedure, investigation by parliament or an investigative services can confirm or disprove the observation. This is what the mole at the Auditor General’s office and the Africanist Press does not want. But the truth always prevails.

  5. Fellow Sierra Leoneans, let us not put the horse before the carriage by naively thinking that, a simple joint statement by the opposition parties, demanding accountability from the president, will somehow translate to anything democratic or a sign of things working as they are supposed to. As much as a majority of the citizens never really follow parliamentary sittings, the fact remains, leaders of the opposition parties along with a few of their eloquent parliamentarians, have always demanded for accountability during their deliberations in the wells of parliament on various issues deemed corrupt, undemocratic and unconstitutional. Contrary to what delusional PAOPA supporters will want you to believe, being the basic functions of parliament, this has been happening during the past few regimes—SLPP (Pa Kabbah), APC (Pa Koroma) and now SLPP (Pa Bio).

    What we should be really asking ourselves is, will anything be done differently this time around? Let us remember, at the start of this regime, the opposition has the majority in parliament. The ruling party first started by imposing a speaker of the house in the parliament despite being in the minority. What followed next was the usurping of the citizens will, by undemocratically removing elected members of opposition parliamentarian, only to be replaced by ruling party members. The end result is, the ruling party having the presidency, judiciary, speaker of the house, the ACC, and majority in parliament. So if you think any iota of accountability will be observed in the current regime, your bet is good as mine.

  6. Yeah. “Silence means consent, and he who is silent is taken to agree”. This quote from Mr Peter Dauda “Now that the opposition parties including the APC are finally in the fight against corruption, we may begin to make progress” and this from Mr Brima Sesay “For the first time in the history of this country’s politics, the opposition leaders have combined together with the parliament, to hold the presidency to account. It happens only under SLPP government”. The quotes from these two gentlemen tells me how the SLPP condoned corruption as an opposition party. They are entirely right. It’s the same silence on corruption that has turned them into one of the most massive kleptocracy regimes in power. Argue/deny.

    The APC is telling these two gentlemen and the world that they are not part of any corrupt practices. Mr President, the First Lady, their kakistocracy and kleptocracy regime should be scrutinised, forced to adopt the rule of law and show accountability for spending taxpayer’s money. Is that not a good idea for Mr Peter Dauda and Mr Brima Sesay? Discuss. Instead of these two gentlemen informing me on corrupt practices under the APC as an opposition party, they expose how the SLPP party was silent because they condoned corruption to the highest unimaginable degree whilst in opposition. Bottom line, silence means consent, acceptance and quotes. The only side of the coin, which implies concern, is what the APC and the NGC are engaged in.

    Gentlemen, do you honestly agree with me? Mind you that this glorious platform can be tough and challenging sometimes. So be careful of what you say. Finally, I’m delighted the NGC has started working with the APC. Such collaboration should have been created a very long time ago, in my view. What is needed is for the opposition to honestly work together, make sure that a new President, new First Lady and a new political dawn with respect, the rule of law, and accountability established in the President’s office and that of the First Lady’s after the 2023 elections. Have they started packing their suitcases? I hope they do. God bless the APC, the NGC, Hon Chernor Maju Bah and Dr Kandeh Yumkella.

  7. Now that the opposition parties including the APC are finally in the fight against corruption, we may begin to make progress. I will continue to watch this space.

  8. Haha OMG, I am glad that the democracy is now currently established and implemented properly in my country” Sierra Leone”. Kudos to H.E. Dr.Bio. For the first time in the history of this country’s politics, the opposition leaders have combined together with the parliament, to hold the presidency to account. It happens only under SLPP government. First of all under APC, you cannot even attempt to deny the presiden. Please ask Chief Sam Sumana to brief you. SLPP is a constitutional party, they abide by the rule of law. I am just feeling sorry for our brother Dr. KKY. APC is using him for propaganda against SLPP period. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, please take this advice from me” APC still blames you for their 2018 poll loss” believe it or not these guys said they will never forgive you for this horrible crime. They have no love for you, not yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever – mark my word.

    The whole APC body was focused only on you not on Bio during 2018 campaign, these people went after you all the way with humiliation, too much pressures that led you to denounce your US Citizenship, all just to disqualify you to run or contest for Presidency of Sierra Leone. I hope, despite your Doctorate you have earned for yourself and the country, I personally worried for your safety with APC brother, think about it. As a Sierra Leonean petty trader working hard to put food on the table, I am really worried about my country. You have all right to investigate the president, it can happen to SLPP by the way but not on APC. Thank you.

  9. Allah/God willing Sierra Leone is getting somewhere, even though the road may be painfully slow and uncertain. We now have a Parliament that has suddenly woken up from its slumber to project and assert its constitutionally bestowed powers. Social media has played a key role in this welcome development, headed by the Africanist Press. Our own Sierra Leone Telegraph does no less in the fight against bent public figures, by providing a platform for the free expression of views. The platform helps us to fight like guerrillas, our targets never see us, or know our location, but we strike terror in their hearts.

    There is something melancholic about this issue: Despite the repeal of the libel laws it should be clear that locally based journalists in our dear country cannot perform their craft professionally because of being brow-beaten or bribed. There are those amongst them who are capable investigators, but cannot publish what they know; it is quite possible, therefore, that they are the ones passing information to the Africanist Press located thousands of miles away for them to do the damage.

    The hand of ACC is being forced here, they have to act, or their reputation stands tarnished. Surely if Parliament takes over the investigation of the allegations of the Africanist Press, it will upstage ACC. Where will Ben Kelfala and his team be then? There’s hope for mother Sierra Leone. We’re now entering a phase wherein public figures or civil servants will think a million times before losing their hands in public coffers.

  10. Whether you are in government, in opposition, public servants in various capacities, the press, ordinary man or woman, that makes up our country’s almost 8million population, corruption in our country, should concern us all . This is not a one man mission. It will be a huge mistake, if we say we are going to leave it to Bio alone and Ben Khalifa. Because we will never get the full picture. Corruption will continue unabated. It’s only right the opposition now wakes up and take it duties seriously, as defined in the 1991 constitution to hold this government into account. The constitution is the bed-rock of our young democracy. Americans quote their constitutional rights a lot, and there is a reason for that. Even when they have mass shootings, and the world held their head in horror at the loss of lives, the American National rifle Association, says it is there right to bear arms.

    For them it is the person carrying the weapon, not the weapon itself. It is in their constitution and no one will argue with that. If we follow our constitution, through the letter of the law, all this deluge of corruption cases will never happen, because the framers of the constitution, and the consequences of not following it, is all written in black and white. The spear of the nation, is in the hands of everyone of us. We have to strike against corruption wherever it rears its ugly head. The rule of law, your rights as a citizens, your duties towards the state, the duties of the state towards you, a free press, protection against the excess of the power of the state and every building block that helps determine a well-functioning democratic society is there. We all want our country to develop. So challenging the government on those grounds, quoting our 1991 constitution are legitimate questions to ask.

    • Look at that and hear the absurdity. What do you mean by “This is just baloney and a political witch hunt by the opposition. Not a serious matter.” Mr Sahr Abu Bockarie? Were you following this massive financial fraud scandal by First Lady Fatima Bio, the Chief Minister and others Mr Sahr Abu Bockarie? I understand that you are new on this glorious platform. But be careful about what you say here. Beware that there are forumites who will methodically use the Queen’s language to put on the offside of the discussion. Finally, please inform me with facts why you call this massive, disastrous, disgraceful and disgusting fraudulent financial dishonesty a witch-hunt. Please do not hit and run. Reply as soon as possible. God bless the APC and the NGC. TBC.

  11. Oh really! Opposition now in support of the the president’s vision to help fight corruption and heal the wounds of Mama Sierra Leone. “Salon go better one day”

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