Commencement of Commissions of Inquiry create tensions

Amidst controversial arguments…

President Julius Maada Bio

The much talked about Commissions of Inquiry, instituted by the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and which were commissioned by no less a person than His Excellency the President Julius Maada Bio on the 29 January 2019 commenced work past Monday, 4 February 2019, at the former Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown.
The Commissions of Inquiry were headed by Justice Biobele Georgewill, Justice Bankole Thompson Justice William Annan Atuguba.
During first day hearing there was an assurance of fairness and independence by Justice Biobele Georgewill of Commission No. 1 who said all those who will be invited will get nothing but a fair and independent process. “Only justice will be done to all and, most importantly, no injustice will be done to anyone,” he assured adding: “I am here to serve without fear, favor or affection.”
Contrary to what many have speculating that the actual probing of public officials that served within the Governance structure that was in place from 2007 to 2018 under the APC and named in the Governance Transition Report (GTT), will commence, however, what transpired was the presentation of evidential documents before the three judges, a process that is slated to last for three to four weeks before the probing commences. A representative from the Auditor General’s Office, Secretary to the Cabinet were among those who forwarded evidential documents detailing how public funds were expended and best practices flouted.
Interestingly, in various parts of the country some people were very apprehensive that with the commencement of the Commissions of Inquiry violence will erupt within the country. From what was understood this fear was accentuated by inciting radio phone-in messages that Monday was going to be a bloody day. This was also heightened by a whatsapp message posted by one Gibril Bangura who is residing overseas that APC is will come out big time to protest
This created a situation were certain parents restricted their children from attending school and business entities opened a little bit late than the usual time. There were panics in Port Loko, some areas within the Western Rural District and few parts of the country
It will be recalled that the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party despite stating that they are not opposed to the establishment of any Commission of Inquiry, however, raised certain objections bordering on the credibility of one of the Judges, lack of the rules of evidence, the starting and cutting period taken into consideration for the probing of the public officials (2007 to 2018) etc. The party maintained that if constitutionality is not adhered to then they are not prepared to comply with Commission of Inquiry stressing that otherwise it is a mere witch hunt.
In determined tones President Bio during the launch of the Commissions said in no uncertain terms that if anyone who is invited to face the three Commissions of Inquiry refuses to go then that individual will face the full penalty of the law underscoring that the Commissions have the powers of a High Court.
The Commissions were necessitated by the outcome of a Presidential Committee, headed Professor David Francis, which took stock of the activities of the Koroma administration; just days after Mr Bio assumed office, following his election in March 2018.


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