Sierra Leone-Accountability-Commission

Sierra Leone's much anticipated inquiry commission in first sitting

APA-Freetown (Sierra Leone)

The first day of hearing in the much anticipated Commissions of Inquiry in Sierra Leone commenced with an assurance of fairness and independence by one of the three presiding judges.

Justice Biobele Gworgewill of Commission No. 1 said all those who will be invited will get nothing but a fair and independent process. "Only justice will be done to all and, most importantly, no injustice
will be done to anyone," assured the Nigerian judge, adding: “I am here to serve without fear, favor or affection.”


The hearing was held amidst tight security in Freetown and elsewhere in the country. It followed concerns of a potential for unrests occasioned by the deadlock between the government and the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC).


Three Commissions, each being headed by judges from Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone, have been set up by President Julius Maada Bio to look into alleged corruption in the administration of former President Ernest Bai Koroma and some key members of his former government.


The Commissions were necessitated by the outcome of a presidential committee which took stock of the activities of the Koroma administration just days after Bio assumed office following his landmark elections in March 2018. But the APC has described the comission as political tool to witch-hunt it members. It has vowed not to honor invitations to the hearings unless its demands that include
establishing rules of evidence are met.


The Commissions are housed at the premises of the former UN-backed Special Court which tried war criminals in the country’s eleven year’s civil war. Three witnesses appeared before Justice Biobele on the first day. They included representatives from the Government Printing Press, the Auditor Generals’ office, and the Secretary to Cabinet. Secretaries for all three Commissions were also sworn-in.


Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Priscilla Schwartz, in a presentation gave an insight into the activities of the Commissions in the next few weeks. She said the state counsel of a team of eight
lawyers, which include herself and her deputy, will submit financial statement of the country as of when the new administration assumed office, as well as the names of persons of interest for the
Commission.

 She added that details of their alleged corrupt dealings and instances of abuse of office which undermined state institutions would also be presented. The AG also revealed that the state has provided office space for the opposing counsel to fast track the proceedings.

KC/abj/APA

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