By Amin Kef Sesay
With the Attorney General stating that the three Commissions of Inquiry set up by this Government to investigate officials of the past Government for alleged malfeasances were legally constituted, the President yesterday officially at State House launched the White Paper on the findings and recommendations of the COI.
Without deviating one iota from the recommendations made by the COI, the President asserted that the Government White Paper fully endorses all the recommendations made by the COI and instructed the office of the Attorney General and the ACC to do follow ups.
Whilst as we went to Press no official statement had been made by the APC Secretariat on the whiter paper, it is certain that the party will not take the President’s verdict lying down.
Spokesperson of the APC, Sidie Yayah Tunis, even before the Government white paper was published had stated that the Commissions were founded on illegal basis because its rules of evidence were not satisfactorily established.
Ady Macaulay, who represented, former President Ernest Bai Koroma and several other persons of interest at the COI has stated that the COI was illegally constituted and its findings and recommendations are null and void. He said the persons of interest will take their cases to the Appeals Court.
It can be recalled that immediately after the COI was established in January, 2019 the APC in a statement, expressed dismay that the Government decided to go ahead with the inauguration without considering its concerns.
Among others, the opposition party argued that the Instruments establishing the Commissions were inconsistent with the provisions of the relevant Constitutional provisions which provide for the establishment of the rules regulating the practice and procedure of all Commissions of Inquiry.
It has also objected to a provision in the constitutional instruments that created the Commissions which gives the Commissioners powers to modify, adapt and except themselves from abiding by the practice and procedure in force in the High Court if they feel.
Another concern was the failure of the Government to establish ‘Rules of Evidence’ in civil or criminal proceedings.
“The APC Party is concerned that this provision gives the Commission the status of a High Court which can recommend penalties that are enforceable by law. The Rules of Evidence applicable in the High Court should therefore apply,” a statement signed by the APC National Secretary General, Osman Foday Yansaneh, said.
“Therefore, the APC Party wishes to reiterate its position on the Commissions of Inquiry, that its membership is ready and prepared to fully support and cooperate with the Commissions if the aforementioned concerns are addressed,” it added.
Secretary General of the party, Ambassador Osman Foday Yansaneh, reiterated that the instruments establishing the Commissions of Inquiry (COI) were not consistent with the provisions of Section 150 of the 1991 Constitution, adding that despite their party and other bodies including the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA) had raised issues regarding the instruments, Government has refused to pay heed.
“Those instruments establishing the COI are not consistent with the provisions of Section 150 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone which states “Subject to the provisions of this chapter, the Rules of Court Committee shall, by constitutional instrument make rules regulating the practice and procedure of all Commissions of Inquiry. The APC Party is of the view that this Committee was not constituted prior to the enactment of the Constitutional Instruments referred to,” he argued.
He, however, noted that they were not against the COI as long as they follow the law and that that they were prepared to obey the rule of law and not the rule of man.