At the end of the voting, none of the parties were able to secure the 94 votes two-third majority as 2 MPs voted void, 72 in favor and 60 against the three instruments. This means the Commission of Inquiry will hold after its 21 days Motion matured and expired last night. The Speaker will order the Clerk of Parliament to issue the necessary certificates for the establishment of the commission this morning.
The democratic move came following an overwhelmingly heated and rather spirited eight hours debate by parliamentarians from various political parties as to the constitutionality of the these instruments after the main opposition, All People’s Congress (APC) had moved a motion that the house nullified them.
It could be recalled that the instruments pursuant to Section 147 of Sierra Leone’s 1991 Constitution, mandates the President to set up a Commission of Inquiry to be headed by one or two qualified judges or commissioners through a Cabinet Advisory or a resolution of the House of Parliament.
It could furthermore be recalled that after assuming the presidency in April this year, Julius Maada Bio appointed a 12-man transition committee, which reported its findings indicting the former APC administration of committing “egregious” financial crimes and “systemic looting” of the public coffer, alongside a series of other financial improprieties in addition to abuse of office.
It was the Leader of Parliament and Government Business, Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis that had earlier moved the motion for the Constitutional Instruments to be debated.
It was the Leader of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC), Hon. Chernor R. M. Bah that seconded the motion, adding that lawmakers had been working together for yesterday’s debate on three constitutional instruments to be held concurrently and on the same day.
Speaker of Parliament Dr. Abass Chenor Bundu maintained that the three constitutional instruments would be debated before the maturity date of 21-days which expired in accordance with section 170 (7) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991.
It could be recalled that the instruments were laid in Parliament on 2nd August this year and the maturity date commenced on 23rd October this year.
Following this development, the Speaker had stated that the request made by both the mover and the seconder be granted as the House had been waiting for since 2nd and 11th October for this debate.
If set up, the Commissions would examine the assets of persons who were president, vice presidents, ministers, ministers of state, deputy ministers, heads and chairpersons of boards of parastatals, departments and agencies and permanent secretaries between the period of November 2007 to April 2018.
This would mean that former President Ernest Bai Koroma and his two vice presidents, Chief Samuel Sam-Sumana and Victor Bockarie Foh might likely be questioned before any of the Commissions.
The Commissions would also inquire into and investigate whether assets of previous public officials were acquired lawfully or unlawfully, as well as investigate whether those officials maintained a standard of life commensurate to their emoluments.
In addition, the Commissions would further investigate whether former public officials own or are in control of pecuniary or property disproportionate to their official emoluments and would also try to establish whether there was corruption, dishonesty or abuse of office for private benefits.
The Commissions would also inquire into whether public officials in the previous regime collaborated with any other persons in respect of corruption, dishonesty or abuse of office, while also investigating whether public officials acted willfully or complacently in such a manner so as to cause financial loss or damage to the government, local authority or parastatals and public corporations.
The Commissions would further establish whether public officials acquired, directly or indirectly, financial or material gains fraudulently, improperly or willfully to the detriment of the government, local authority or parastatals, including public corporation, statutory commission, body or any University of Sierra Leone.
In the meantime, it is not known when the three commissions would start hearing after the Constitutional Instruments that set them up would have been passed into law.