On the 22nd of October 2018, the Parliament of Sierra Leone debated the proposal of setting up Commissions of Inquiry to investigate corruption of the previous All People’s Congress (APC) government which had been in power from 2007 to 2018 under the former President Ernest Bai Koroma.
The fight against corruption in Sierra Leone led by President Julius Maada Bio has resulted in the launch of three Commissions of Inquiry on the 29th of January 2019, with the swearing-in of three judges. The three judges, Justice William Annan Atuguba from Ghana, Justice Biobele Georgewill from Nigeria, a judge in the Court of Appeal in Nigeria and Justice Bankole Thompson, a former High Court judge in Sierra Leone have been given six months to work.
The Commissions of Inquiry were tasked with looking at three key issues, governance processes, assets, and the outcomes of the forensic audits, disparities between income or means and assets and inefficiencies and deficits in governance especially where people deliberately misused public offices or took advantage of state institutions.
President Bio said of the judges, “The judges have no stake in the politics of our country and they will sit as independent commissioners without bias or prejudice. It is not a political witch-hunt. Nobody is going to be asked whether he or she belongs to a political party or hails from a particular region. It is a simple process. The Commissioners will ask people questions, investigate what they are told and the evidence put before them, and thereafter present a report of their findings. As a government, we will act on those findings because it is in the national interest and it is for the public good. We will act on the findings to show Sierra Leoneans, including serving government officials that this must be the last Commission of Inquiry in our history.”
In October 2018, President Bio’s decision to cancel the $318 million airport project signed with the Chinese led to huge praises from Africans all over the continent. President Bio’s three mandates are war on indiscipline, war on corruption and war on poverty. President Bio’s seriousness in fighting corruption has led to talks of him targeting only a specific group of people from a particular party. He said, “Successive government audit reports reminded government between 2007 and 2018 of gross inefficiencies and deficiencies in governance and public accountability, leakages, and downright squandering of state revenue and resources. The responses were more lip service to fighting corruption, sham trials, and backdoor acquittals and reinstatements of public officials. . . Therefore, let me make this solemn promise to the nation that anyone found wanton of corruption in my administration will be promptly removed from public office and subjected to the full force of the law.”
During the launch of the Commissions of Inquiry President Bio said, “Corruption remains the single most critical deterrent to the development of Sierra Leone. It impedes human capital development which is the most critical driver of development in every country. When monies meant for educating our children and youth population are stolen by just few people, that is a threat to our national development. When monies meant for providing basic social services for every citizen are stolen by just few people to build mansions and buy luxury cars that is a threat to our national development.”