From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Why the Attorney-General Should Resign
By Awareness Times Editorial Board
Oct 11, 2011, 17:11

Section 64 of the Sierra Leone Constitution makes the Attorney General & Justice Minister, Hon. Franklyn B. Kargbo, to be the Primary Legal Adviser to the Government and to President Koroma. Universally, legal blunders by any entity are the fault of the legal adviser. Most honourable men resign when their inaction and lack of legal prowess cause embarrassment to their principals.


Now, Section 149 of the Sierra Leone Constitution is quite clear on what happens when the President receives the Report of a Commission of Enquiry like the Shears-Moses Report. According to Section 149, the President should have caused to be published the Shears-Moses Commission Report and any White Paper thereon within six months of it being submitted to the President.


Interestingly, the Constitution gives awesome powers to the President in these matters to ride roughshod over findings and recommendations of Commissions and discard them into the dustbins of History albeit within an allowed fixed period of time. For example, if the President does not agree with any of the Shears-Moses Findings and Recommendations, he is fully empowered by the Constitution to just ignore them and say his Government rejects them in the accompanying White Paper.


This powerful situation is made even more powerful for the President with Section 149(3) which give the President the powers to not only just ignore recommendation of Shears-Moses Report but to refuse to publish the Report if he so desires. The only requirement for such ignoring of recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry is that the President must tell the Citizens why he thinks he should ignore the Report, within 6 months of the Report being handed over.


As can be seen from the above, there really is no excuse for the President to have not acted within the constitutional 6 months period. The Constitution gives the President awesome powers  and flexibility in treating Commission Reports. The only caveat is that the powers must be exercised and be seen to be exercised within 6 months of the submission of the Report.


Thus, if President Koroma had a good legal adviser, he would have pointed out these points to President Koroma, explaining to him all his enormous powers & flexibility and elaborating on the timely manner in which the President can just discard such Reports; thus saving a lot of this needless current embarrassment for the President.


With all this laxity given by the Constitution to President Koroma to act within 6 months, the lack of action on the Shears-Moses Report is a big indictment on the constitutional prowess of the Presidents legal adviser, Attorney-General Frank Kargbo.


Frank Kargbos glaring lack of constitutional prowess has needlessly subjected the President to local and international embarrassment and if Kargbo has much integrity, he should immediately tender in his resignation as Attorney-General over his failure to properly advise the President to act according to Section 149 of the Sierra Leone Constitution. Hon. Frank Kargbo should resign if he is honourable.


Section 149 of Sierra Leone Constitution follows:



SECTION 149 - Publication of report of Commission of Inquiry and right of appeal.

149. (1) The Commission of Inquiry shall

a. make a full, faithful and an impartial inquiry into any matter specified in the commission of appointment;

b. report in writing the result of the inquiry; and

c. furnish in the report the reasons leading to the conclusions arrived at or reported.

149. (2) The President shall, subject to the provisions of subsection (4), cause to be published the report of a Commission of Inquiry together with the White Paper thereon within six months of the date of the submission of the report by the Commission.

149. (3) Where the report of a Commission of Inquiry is not to be published, the President shall issue a statement to that effect, giving reasons why the report is not to be published.

149. (4) Where a Commission of Inquiry makes an adverse finding against any person, which may result in a penalty, forfeiture or loss of status, the report of the Commission of Inquiry shall, for the purposes of this Constitution, be deemed to be a judgement of the High Court of Justice and accordingly an appeal shall lie as of right from the Commission to the Court of Appeal.

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