WHITE PAPER RELEASE & FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION: “THE PRESIDENT WILL BE DIGGING HIS OWN POLITICAL GRAVE”

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Civil Society Activist

By Amara Thoronka

The Executive Director of the Centre for Accountability and the Rule (CARL), Ibrahim Tommy has said President Bio will be digging his own political grave if “he fails to publish the white paper indicating the government’s position on the reports of the three commissions of inquiry (COIs).”

In an exclusive interview with Beyond Borders, Tommy noted, “The commission of inquiry is going to be a major issue in the next election. If President Bio toys with it, he will be digging his own political grave.”

He said the constitution gives the President six months to release a white paper on the findings of the commissions of inquiry. “I was told that the six-month period elapses this September. It will be a disaster and a shame if nothing comes out of it.”

Tommy continued that huge state resources were spent on the establishment and operations of the commissions of inquiry. “Considering the billions of leones that was spent on those commissions of inquiry, Sierra Leoneans deserve a response from the President because it is entirely up to the him to either accept all the recommendations or reject all; or accept some of the recommendations and reject some, So, from the point of view of accountability and prudent management of resources, the white paper should be released,” the CARL boss reiterated.

Asked why the President should release the white paper on the commissions of inquiry, he stated that “the President does not have a choice to ignore releasing the white paper because he is under obligation by law to put out a white paper within six months after the completion and submission of the report of the COI.”

In recollecting the era of the previous government, Tommy said, “The former administration of Ernest Bai Koroma set up a commission of inquiry but nothing came out of it.” He further noted the recent COIs were bigger and were presided over by three judges (two foreign and one Sierra Leonean).

He called on the President together with his advisers to take an in-depth look at the findings and recommendations made by the judges and do the right thing. “And what is right is to come out with a white paper speaking to such findings and recommendations,” he pointed out.

The CARL’s chief said he understood the President will be dealing with a very thorny issue but emphasized that enhancing accountability is more paramount.

He expressed dissatisfactions with people who support and glorify corrupt officials. “I have seen people supporting and praising corrupt officials. There have been times when the Anti-Corruption Commission had been booed at for prosecuting officials involved in corruption.”

It could be recalled that the commissions of inquiry were recommendations made by the Government Transition Team Report launched on 4 July 2018 to inquire into the assets, finance and governance of the erstwhile Ernest Koroma led government. The COIs were launched by President Bio on 29 January 2019 which completed operations and handed over their reports to the President on 25 March 2020. Since then, there has been no white paper to accept or reject the reports. Tommy said President Bio came to power on the mantra of fighting corruption. Some days ago, CARL released its Corruption Perceptions Survey 2019 which stated that 73% of respondents indicated that corruption is a serious problem in Sierra Leone.

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