''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol XII No 3

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Monday August 16, 2016 - Sierra Leone Parliament in corruption net as poisoned javelins and threats are hurled against anti-corruption body that refuses to buckle under pressure. Time for the law makers to come clean.Allieu Kanu the partisan head of the media watch dog. He has threatened the media outlets.RASSin Bundu - he believes Parliament is above the law.

The recent days have seen a clearly rattled Sierra Leone Parliament looking for any weapon it can hurl against an anti-corruption activist that has dared to shine the spotlight on the finances of Parliamentarians who are accused of collecting huge amounts from the peoples' kitty without properly accounting to the public on how these funds are utilised.

It all started after the Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) issued a press statement in which it accused Parliamentarians of failing to account for funds they had received over the years as monies to be used in developing their various constituencies.

This statement got Parliament and MPs rattled and desperate measures could be clearly discerned as the MPs, both from the ruling APC party, the main opposition SLPP and others suddenly realised that someone was now calling them to face the court of the people and account for all the funds they have been receiving from the purse of the people.

The CHRDI wants the Parliamentarians who just love to have the title Honourable before their names to act honourably and reveal just how they have been spending constituency development funds as well as those received from the coffers of state during the Ebola Virus Disease crisis that saw some four thousand Sierra Leoneans going to early graves.

Desperate to ward off these questions, Parliament called what many see as an unprecedented press conference in which outrage was expressed against the CHRDI leader, one Abdul Fatoma whose organisation was only doing a civic duty of asking questions that are on the minds of many Sierra Leoneans. The press conference clearly showed the fear in the eyes of those under scrutiny as MPs suddenly realised that they are being called to account, brought down from their high horses and asked to serve the people by accounting for funds garnered on their behalf by MPs.

Thanks to one media outlet, the African Young Voices television on the internet we clearly saw the MPs desperation on full display. There was one Special Adviser called Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, IB, who quite forgetting all his experiences as a journalist was heard threatening media outlets who printed or broadcast the accusations of CHRDI as being party to "a libelous" matter even though he still has to prove to the courts that asking a question on the accountability of Parliamentarians was now an act of libel under the laws of Sierra Leone. All we can state here is that IB Kargbo would need to go through his notes on libel so that he does not come out with those unfounded and veiled threats against media outlets who see it fit to publicise the demands of CHRDI.

Another not so surprising member of the band of shameless defenders of the Parliamentarians was one Allieu I. Kanu who loves to see his name prefaced with the title Ambassador, the country to which he represents Sierra Leone is only best known to him and his associates like one Yansaneh who was at one time President Momoh's aide at State House.

Allieu Kanu, in a desperate bid to hang on to his Chairmanship of the Independent Media Commission, the IMC, promised to investigate and bring to book all media outlets that published the accusations of the CHRDI - and this from an organisation that is supposed to be an independent watchdog.

There was the so-called Majority Leader of the House - the self-serving RASSin Bundu a troll who actually believes that Parliament was above the law; that Parliament was not accountable to anyone; that Parliament could usurp the powers of other bodies set up by Parliament itself as was witnessed in the fight over the Auditor General's report on the Ebola Virus Disease funds.

He, this troll, told the press that they had looked at all the books - from those to be found at the offices of the Ministry of Justice, to the Ministry of Finance and beyond and that CHRDI was not a registered organisation in Sierra Leone, indicating that CHRDI had no business asking questions that had been on the minds of Sierra Leoneans - to whom should Parliamentarians account?

And this brought quite a lot of questions - among them - do you have to be a registered and recognised body to ask MPs or indeed any other body to account to the people?

Concord Times in an online report noted this - "The Chief Executive of Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has stated that no amount of intimidation by Members of Parliament would prevent the organisation from moving ahead with their accountability campaign.

Abdul M. Fatoma’s statement came following reaction by some Members of Parliament to a CHRDI press release dated 26 July, 2016 which alleged that parliamentarians and parliamentary officials have failed to properly account for over Le120 billion spent on Parliament by government in the last five years.

“We are aware that in their feeble attempts to threaten our organisation for asking these questions, they have indicated their intent to use “Contempt of Parliament” as provided for in the Constitution, to intimidate and silence us. No amount of intimidation from corrupt individual(s) in and out of Parliament would prevent us from doing that,” he said.

He noted that as a reputable and respected Human Rights, Social Policy Advocacy International Organisation that only cares for the welfare of the poor people, who are being blatantly cheated by their representatives in Parliament, they consider such reaction as outrageous, wicked and absolutely uncalled for by MPs.

He urged Parliament to handle the issue responsibly through public disclosure and meaningful deliberations, not through intimidation and threat of Contempt of Parliament.

Mr. Fatoma assured of their determination and readiness to continue to reiterate their call to ensure the effective implementation of existing anti-corruption legislation(s) in respect of parliamentarians and other government officials.

“Our parliament has to be accountable to the Sierra Leonean public. Parliamentarians are servants of the people for whom they make laws. They are not exempt from the laws they pass and Parliamentarians are reminded that they are not above the law but subject equally to the law in similar manner as their constituents,” he maintained."

It would be recalled that it was this same horror who openly challenged the Anti Corruption Commission head when its then head one Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara indicated that they would be quite interested in talking to those found wanting in that report. We noted then that this RASSin Bundu troll was in breach of the provisions of the Anti Corruption Law of 2008 and that he should be taken to task for impeding the work of the ACC, an offence under the laws of Sierra Leone.

The indignation of Parliamentarians is now spurned by Sierra Leoneans who would want to know more about the accountability of MPs and have called for them to come out clean instead of hurling veiled threats in all directions.

This caused us to take a second look at the report of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee, PAC, after the Auditor General issued that damning report on the management of the funds allocated in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease.

As one online publication Sierra Leone Telegraph noted - it was a whitewash in which Parliament quite forgot is role as a law maker, but took upon itself the duties of the police, the law officers department, the Anti Corruption Commission and all those institutions whose duty it is to investigate and bring to book all those found wanting as revealed in that damning report.

The news outlet noted something we had reported on for quite a while. I B Kargbo - needs to take a second look at his journalism notes.

Parliament over reaching its role as a law-making body.

"The long awaited parliamentary report into the missing $14 million Ebola funds, that was last Thursday presented to parliament by committee chairman Chernor Bah, is nothing but a whitewash and a travesty of justice. The publication of this report follows the strong criticisms and misgivings raised by the Sierra Leone Telegraph, regarding the controversial decision of parliament, which prevented the police, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the judiciary, from carrying out the investigations and prosecuting those charged with criminality.

This politically motivated action by a parliament dominated by ruling party members, is not only regarded as contemptuous of the people’s liberty, but undermines the independence of the criminal justice system and the credibility of the ACC.

Above all, there are fears such precedence will also undermine efforts to rid the country of the culture of corruption that sadly defines its international image, and is responsible for the sickening levels of poverty it suffers, as well as decades of under-development.

Government ministers and parliament have no business interfering in the due process of law, when citizens are being held accountable for their actions by the Anti-Corruption Commission."

Despite the huffing and puffing, the flapping of wings and expressions of being the right body to investigate and report on the findings of the Auditor General, we are heartened to note that in the closing lines of the PAC report, there's an acknowledgement that the PAC report should not stop any other body from carrying out its own investigations and brining to book all those found wanting.

Indeed we noted this line - 5. The Committee hereby advises that this report is not a bar to other actors or/and other competent bodies or authorities that might consider other actions as appropriate.

This means that the PAC has now come to the realisation that it can only comment on the report but cannot stop bodies like the police and the ACC to carry out their own investigations and bring all those found wanting to book.

Parliament and Parliamentarians are not above the law and they should be held to account like anyone living off the peoples' purse.

Also read this to see that the PAC recommendations not heeded with those asked to account treating the PAC report with contempt if not derision - Auditor-General's second report

(Pictures of IB Kargbo, RASSin Bundu and Allieu the self-designated Ambassador to no country on earth from African Young Voices video - WAKE UP SALONE)


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