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Commission of Inquiry or Political Witch-Hunting: A Rejoinder
By Abdulai Samura
Oct 20, 2008, 12:25
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Commissions of Inquiry are not necessarily a bad idea if the goal is genuine and devoid of personal vendetta or a veiled attempt at decapitating the opposition. Governments have use commissions of inquiry for variety of reasons and finding from such commissions have sometimes saved nations when applied. However, when a commission of inquiry becomes broad day light witch-hunting in an already divided country like Sierra Leone, we need to take a pause and examine the following: its necessity, relevance and it fiscal prudence. In light of that, this article addresses the warped logic and hopelessly disjointed comparisons made in the piece written in the October 17th edition of Standard Times Newspaper by Mr. Abdulai Bayraytay.

In his article, "Commission of Inquiry or Political Witch-Hunting", Mr. Bayraytay unconvincingly tried to justify the commission of inquiry set up by President Ernest Koroma to look into the activities of former SLPP ministers with the aim of finding out whether they misappropriated government funds. Mr. Bayraytay’s main argument for his justification of the commission of inquiry is that it will "…ascertain misuse of office and allegations of profane corruption during the tenure of his predecessor..."

In addition, Mr. Bayraytay erroneously invoked J. S. Momoh and the NPRC’s commissions of inquiry in a rather lame attempt to show precedence. He concludes: "…it is brazenly dishonest for sections of the opposition to perceive President Koroma’s setting up of a commission of inquiry as a witch-hunting endeavor…" The overzealous Mr. Bayraytay who like the proverbial Jelliba went ahead in his conclusion to suggest that the president must enforce the findings of the commission to its fullest.

One of the first questions President Koroma should ask himself is whether a commission of inquiry is necessary, especially to look into the allegations of corruption. Being that "Jellibaism" is not in the genes of the Limba I am, the answer should be an emphatic no! Here’s why? Setting up such a commission is a waste of much needed funds, duplicitous, irrelevant and a clear witch hunt which in my opinion is geared towards killing the opposition.

Some of us would have had no problems with a commission of inquiry of this sort if there were no mechanisms to investigate allegations of corruption. Sierra Leone has a mechanism to investigate allegations of corruption. The Anti-Corruption Commission was set up specifically to look into such allegations. So why unnecessarily spend tax payers’ money on a fishing expedition when the ACC can do the investigation and prosecution? The answer is self evident. The ACC has looked that all the allegations and the badly written Transition Report and they found no basis for such allegations. In short the Transition Report was bogus and had nothing on the past government officials. The only government official they found wanting is now on trial-Mr. Gabbidon.

After the rejection of the findings by the ACC, the APC tried to use parliament to reprimand past government officials. Unfortunately for the APC and fortunately for the people of Sierra Leone, the majority leader, Mr. Eddie Turay, a lawyer, turned it down for the same reasons the Anti-Graft Czar of ACC turned it down. Now this commission of inquiry is a third try. The President is bent on distracting the public from his failed one year in office so he sets up a kangaroo court disguised in the cloak of a commission of inquiry with very low standards. While we all applaud the so called zero tolerance for corruption we should frown upon frivolous grand standing that will be a waste of tax payers’ money.

Mr. Bayraytay illogically invoked commissions of inquiry by past governments. Even an unchallenging course as social work teaches the basics of comparison - never compare apples and oranges. It is sheer ignorance for Mr. Bayraytay to invoke past commissions during Momoh and NPRC regimes simply because the situation now is fundamentally different. During the above mentioned regimes’ reign, there was no Anti-Corruption commission in place and it therefore made sense for such commissions. Now that we have the ACC charged with the responsibility akin to that now delegated to the commission of inquiry, there is no sensible justification to waste tax payers’ money on a foreign judge to foster political grandstanding and witch-hunting. To answer your question Mr. Bayraytay, this is witch hunting pure and simple and it is as nauseating as it will further divide the country.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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