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Sierra Leone House Approves Graft Inquiry Committee.

10/23/2018 12:00:00 AM   |      |   

Sierra Leone House Approves Graft Inquiry Committee.

Sierra Leone’s parliament has approved the formation of a commission of enquiry to investigate former government officials after a last-ditch attempt by the main opposition to prevent it failed.

The opposition-dominated House debated the bill which consists of three constitutional instruments in fulfilment of a request by the All Peoples Congress (APC), which challenged the procedure followed by the governing Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).

Constitutional instruments 64, 65 and 67 were first presented to the House in August, following a cabinet approval of the recommendations of a presidential committee to take stock of the activities of the administration of former President Ernest Bai Koroma.

Mr Koroma’s successor, President Julius Maada Bio, campaigned on the promise of ending corruption and indiscipline in governance. Days after he was sworn into office, following a March election, President Bio set up the Government Transition Team (GTT) to probe the Koroma-administration's activities.

The findings of the GTTI, published in July, revealed massive suspected corruption. The authors of the report recommended that a Commission of enquiry be set up to do and indepth investigation and all former officials found wanted be prosecuted.

While APC, which is the main opposition, says it is not averse to accountability, it alleges “selective justice” by SLPPCalls for a debate on the bill were meant to discuss the APC concerns.

In the face of opposition protest and the reported intervention of the international community, the SLPP-led government gave in to pressure and called for a debate on Monday.

The decision sanctioning the formation of the commissions was announced by the Speaker of Parliament at the end of the hot debate that culminated in voting. The APC bench, which introduced a motion calling for the rejection of the bill, polled 72 votes, against SLPP’s 60. There were only two void votes.

Five MPs were said to be out of the country on official mission, with seven unaccounted for. The entire House comprises 146 MPs, including 14 Paramount ChiefsAPC has 68 seats, while SLPP has 49. The opposition could not attain the two third majority, which translates to 92 votes, needed to throw the bill out.

MPs took turns to speak on the issue in a special session which lasted late into the night. It was notably a live-broadcast to enable the public to follow it. The scope of the investigation covers the last 10 years of APC reign (2007 to April 2018). A Nigerian judge has already been named to head the commission, to be assisted by a local judge, in line with the recommendation of the GTT report.

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