By Amin Kef Sesay
At a Press Conference held at the Fort Street Offices of the Civil Society Organization Consortium on Service Delivery on Wednesday 27th November 2019, National Coordinator of the organisation, Sao Lamin, called on President Julius Maada Bio to append his signature to the amended ACC bill which is awaiting his Presidential assent. According to him, this bill when signed into law by the President will empower the Commission to robustly fight corruption, as it contains new clauses that render obsolete old ineffective ones. It embraces new penalties and clearly makes a distinction of the classes of public officials that should declare their assets, when and how it should be done.
William Sao Lamin told the Press that prior to the passing of the bill in Parliament, they had, as an organisation, went to the respective districts with the draft and engaged members of the public on the pros and cons of the amendment and the benefits that will come to the nation when fully implemented. He disclosed that those engagements proved fruitful as citizens accepted their explanation and urged them to advocate for its implementation.
‘’During this period, we called on members of the public, engaged them and educated them on the new draft 2019 ACC Bill before it was passed in Parliament. The reactions from the public was very great as majority of those we spoke to were in support of such a document, which they strongly believe is the best mechanism to push forward the fight against corruption,‘’ William Sao Lamin said.
He further stated that as it is the campaign promise of His Excellency that he desires a society where transparency and accountability are seen, the bill clearly resonates with that vision.
‘’Failing to sign the said document, will leave us with no other option than to issue an ultimatum, and take another line of action,” he revealed but he hastened to say that whilst urging the President to sign the bill, they are not overtly pessimistic, but are optimistic, based on the utterances of His Excellency, both nationally and internationally about transparency and accountability. Responding to questions of pessimism, Sao Lamin said that the matter is being brought to the fore to remind the President that such a bill is still on his desk awaiting his Presidential Assent, especially as it has been there for quite a while now. By appending his signature to the bill, he added, citizens will know that the President is serious about fighting corruption.
Moses Mambu, Communications Manager of the Consortium, briefly reminded the President about his promise in the fight against corruption. He further encouraged H.E. to sign the bill and put the country on a higher pedestal in the fight against corruption. He further spoke about the President’ promise to build a diagnostic Centre with the monies recovered and handed over to him at State House by the ACC boss and asked about the status of that project.
‘’We are concerned about the delay to construct the first class diagnostic centre for the people of this country and we want to know the current position of that project,” Mambu questioned.
The meeting was chaired by Hassan Kamara and attracted a galaxy of journalists, both from the print and electronic media.