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PLEASE ALLOW PARLIAMENT A RESPITE!
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has noticed forty officials from both the public and private sectors to report to the Commission with immediate effect in connection to matters related to the management of Ebola funds and other matters connected thereto. The notice comes following the tabling of the Accountant General’s Report in Parliament last Thursday. The report exposed several alleged irregularities in the management of Ebola funds for the period of May to October, 2014. The forty officials whose names were mentioned in the ACC’s public notice were advised to report to the office of the Commission at 3 Gloucester Street, Freetown, or to any of the Commission’s regional offices in Bo, Kenema, Makeni and Koidu. They were also requested to take along documents in respect of the management of Ebola funds.
The ACC as a statutory body has the constitutional mandate to invite the forty officials given the alleged irregularities in the Accountant General’s Report which are not unconnected with alleged corrupt practices. But it is rather confusing that forty officials have already been asked to report to the Commission with regards the management of Ebola funds at a time when the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) has just started investigating every query that was raised in the report.
I believe that the ACC’s public notice requesting the forty officials to report to the Commission with immediate effect is rather premature when you consider the fact that the Accountant General’s Report falls within the provisions of the 1991 Constitution and the Standing Order of Parliament as rightly observed by the Majority Leader and Head of Government Business in Parliament. Despite the general public is emotionally charged since the Auditor General’s Report went public followed by the ACC’s invitation of the forty officials, the report itself is a mere query which has to be thoroughly investigated by Parliament before its findings and recommendations would be forwarded to the Law Officers’ Department for immediate action. So why can’t the ACC allow Parliament to do its work and wait for the report of the Public Accounts Committee’s report before it could act on it?
The ACC has already boxed itself in the corner by wrongly including the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brima Kargbo’s name among those it invited with regards the Accountant General’s Report on the management of Ebola funds though the Commission has tendered an unreserved apology to him. The First International Bank (FIBank) and Flaming Evangelical Bible Ministries have also come out clean on allegations in the Auditor General’s Report that the two institutions and many others had their cheques to support the fight against the outbreak of the Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) turned down by the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank Limited. Look at the embarrassment the ACC’s invitation and the report have caused to the Chief Medical Officer and those noble institutions which is very unfair.
Just as the Office of the President and the House of Parliament have advised the general public to exercise patience until the report is thoroughly scrutinized, Sierra Leoneans should hearken to the advice lest they prejudice the report. Similarly, I believe the ACC also should wait for the findings and recommendations (report) of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee before it should act. The intention to invite the forty officials with regards the management of Ebola funds may be genuine, but jumping the gun cannot be excusable. The Commission should therefore allow Parliament a respite to do its work before it should act, when the report would have been disposed of for public consideration.