The Majority Leader of Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu has issued a strong warning that any premature reporting backed with public opinion on the Auditor's General Report on the Ebola Funds which was laid on the table of Parliament on 12th February 2015 will be tantamount to contempt of Parliament.
It could be recalled that there has been a wide public outcry, discussions, suspicious and opinion on the social media, local and other avenues since the document was tabled in Parliament.
Hon. Bundu made this statement on Tuesday 17th February while reading a special statement on the position of Parliament regarding the report which is yet to be debated. He added that the report published and laid in Parliament by Audit Service Sierra Leone is an opinion of the Auditor's General for which Parliament will have to debate and prescribe recommendations.
According to the Majority Leader, the report is an opinion of the Auditor's General and Section 93-1 E of the Sierra Leone Constitution makes provision for the establishment of the Public Account Committee charged with the responsibility of investigating public funds and Standing Order (SO) 68 -6 describes its constitutional mandate.
"Any contravention of the Standing Order is contempt of Parliament and any attempt to discuss the Auditor General's opinion in any media will be tantamount to contempt of Parliament" he stated.
This he said, is to educate the public and as well as caution radio stations that may intend discussions or conduct phoning program on the said issue. According to him anybody who contravenes such an anomaly will be charged for contempt and for that reason, stations managers will be held responsible if such issue are discuss in their stations he maintained.
In his response, Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Sheku B.B. Dumbuya said members of the public should know that Parliament has procedure but that some people most times act out of ignorance, the speaker maintained.
He informed that the House of Parliament has certain rules and procedures which cannot be compromise.
On the contrary, Hon. Bashiru Silikie from Bo District advised that the Ebola Management Fund Report be debated without any delay, stressing that there was a high public interest.
He noted that Parliament previously received an earlier reports from the Auditor's General that have not been debated but the recent report was special on the Ebola Management Fund which is predominantly in line with the emergency issues and for that reason it was very prudent for them to debate it. He expressed that Parliament was yet to even debate the 2013 Reports issued by ASSL.
Responding to concern propounded by Hon Bashiru Silikie, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Chernor Bah who serves as Chairman of the Public Account Committee said the report has to be debated but Parliament will have to decide the time for that. This he said, should be seen as a national issue and not something and cautioned over hasting reactions but strict procedure. Hon. Bah advised that the House can do it base on Parliamentary procedures.
On his part, the Deputy Minority leader, Hon. Ansu Kaikai said the Report is a special one that is presently in public domain.
He told his colleagues MPs they just have to debate the document or else the people will become more worried.
"We must make sure that we protect the image and integrity of parliament" he stated.
According to him, the issue surrounding the report is very hot.
"I don't care whether if the issue is hot" says Speaker of parliament, Hon. Sheku B. B. Dumbuya in response to the statement made by Deputy Minority leader. ''Even if it becomes hotter than fire we don't have to sacrifice procedures '' the Speaker said.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.