Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 April 2019:
Yesterday, Thursday 4th April 2019, the parliament of Sierra Leone debated and committed a Bill entitled – “The Anti-Corruption Amendment Act 2019″ to its Legislative Committee for further scrutiny.
The Bill which was tabled in parliament by the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abdulai Bangurah, is seeking to amend the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008, in particular – Sections dealing with assets declarations, soliciting and obtaining undue advantage and other related matters.
Addressing parliament, the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abdulai Bangurah said that the Bill is aiming to increase penalties, protection of witnesses and to provide the Anti-Corruption Commissioner with tougher actions in addressing offences related to graft.
Acting Chairman of the Legislative Committee, Osman Timbo – member of parliament for the APC welcomed the decision to amend the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 to fight against corruption, which he described as “a serious fight”, before calling for its committal to committee for further deliberations aimed at ironing some of the contending issues.
Hindolo M. Gevao – MP for the SLPP, also commended the Government for taking the bold step to empower the ACC in the fight against corruption. He said that the Bill is seeking to address some of the weaknesses inherent the 2008 Act.
The parliamentary leader of the main opposition APC – Chernor R.M Bah (Photo) referred to the fight against corruption as a “continuous process”, and commended the ACC Czar – Francis Ben Kaifala for acting on a process started by the previous government.
He also called on the Legislative Committee to speedily look at the Bill in its entirety and report to the House in due course for enactment into law.
Concluding the debate, the Leader of Government Business – Sidie M. Tunis MP, commended the MPs for their valuable contributions, adding that “the essence of the Bill is to make corruption expensive and painful, and on implementation it will reduce corruption by 80-90 percent as in Rwanda”.
In another development yesterday in parliament, MPs debated and approved the controversial appointment of new Commissioners to head the Human Rights Commission, after the sacking of the incumbent commissioners by the president.
The main opposition APC objected to the approval process on the grounds that the outgoing Commissioners were sacked in contravention of the provisions laid down in the Human Rights Commission Act.
The APC MPs led by their parliamentary leader – Chernor Bah told reporters that all 68 of their MPs voted against the approval.
But the Leader of Government Business, Sidie M. Tunis MP, said “that Section 61 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone authorises the President to constitute offices, make appointments and terminate such appointments at will”.
The Presiding Speaker of Parliament, Segepoh Solomon Thomas MP, has directed the Office of the Clerk of Parliament to write to the Ministry of Finance to make the necessary payment to the Commissioners whose services had been terminated by the President.
The following presidential commissioners were approved by Parliament to head the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission: Mrs. Patricia N. Ndanema-Chairman; Mr. Victor I. Lansana-Vice Chairman; Mr. Hassan S. Yarjah; Ms. Simitie Lavaly; and Dr. Gassan Abess.
Buy why is the opposition APC furious about parliament’s approval of the commissioners yesterday? This is a report by Abdul Malik Bangura:
Majority Party Leader and Leader of opposition parties in the Sierra Leone House of Parliament – Chernor Ramadan Maju Bah, has said that today’s approval of five (5) commissioners of the country’s Human Right Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) is illegally done.
Honourable Chernor Ramadan Maju Bah, who is the leader of the sixty-eight (68) All Peoples Congress (APC) Members of Parliaments (MPs) said, earlier eleven (11) MP’s met at the Committee on Appointment and Public Services to vet the details of the five (5) nominated HRCSL Commissioners.
He said that of the MPs present at the committee hearing were 5 APC MPs, namely: Honourable Chernor Ramadan Maju Bah (himself), Honourable Hassan Sesay, Honourable Amadu Kanu, Honourable Lahai Marrah and Honourable Rose Marie Bangura; three (3) from the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), one (1) each from Independent Candidates, Coalition for Change (C4C) and the National Grand Coalition.
Hon Chericoco, as he if fondly called, said that the APC members in the committee strongly objected to the Presidential nomination of the HRCSL commissioners on the grounds that the tenure of the outgoing Commissioners was terminated without compliance to the Human Rights Commission Act.
Another ground was that the commissioners who are to vacate their offices must have been adequately compensated before termination and also that there is conflict of interest in the appointment of the Chairperson who happens to be the wife of a member member of the executive (cabinet).
The Majority Leader of Parliament further said that at first within the Committee on Appointment and Public Service, 7 MPs including the APC MPs supported the argument raised by the APC MPs but just this morning, the National Grand Coalition (NGC) representative in the Committee, and the C4C representative swayed in favour of the nomination.
He said, they left the APC with only their five (5) members in the committee as against 6 members who were now in favour of the nomination of the HRCSL commissioners. Therefore, the committee report was presented at the well of Parliament, since the majority had now supported the nomination.
Honourable Chericoco said the report was read in Parliament, but also, the APC filed in a minority report confirming their position in the approval process. He said a vote was done by voice, but the presiding Speaker, Honourable Sengepor Thomas chose in favour instead of the contrary, but it was very clear that majority of the MPs present were against the nomination.
He said, after they objected in the Well of Parliament and called for a division in line with Standing Order 46 of Parliament, the Speaker called for an immediate adjournment.
Consequently, Honourable Chericoco said that the incomplete approval process of the HRCSL commissioners is illegal and the entire 68 APC MPs are not in favour of the approval of the HRCSL Commissioners.