The National Grand Coalition (NGC) on Sunday 14th January 2024 issued a release about alleged corruption practices in parliament involving the clerk Honorable Paran Tarawallie, accusing the speaker Dr. Abass Bundu of aiding and abetting corruption in parliament.
In the release it was stated that the NGC is shocked and deeply concerned by the apparent lack of action by Dr. Abass Bundu, the Speaker of Parliament, in response to the serious allegations of corruption and malpractice within the Sierra Leone Parliament, adding that the NGC accuses the Speaker of aiding and abetting corruption by failing to take decisive disciplinary action against Paran Tarawally, the Clerk of Parliament, charged with alleged corruption by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
It was also stated that the NGC finds it appalling that despite the serious allegations against the Clerk of Parliament, no concrete steps have been taken by the Parliament’s leadership to address the issue and such lack of action raises serious questions about the commitment of Parliament to uphold integrity, accountability, and transparency as a legislative organ of government.
The release referred to an issue in October 2020 where two members of parliament were suspended by the speaker for something out about corruption in parliament. “In October 2020, this same Parliament, under the leadership of the current Speaker, immediately suspended two parliamentary whistleblowers, Hon. Hindolo Moiwo Gevao and Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh, from Parliamentary Committee Proceedings following their interviews with the BBC and Radio Democracy. In those interviews, both members of Parliament raised concerns about corruption within the institution of Parliament. Instead of addressing these concerns, the leadership of Parliament referred to the allegations as unverified and sought to silence the voices of those speaking out against corruption”.
According to the release, NGC believes such actions and inactions indicate a systemic problem within the Sierra Leone Parliament as it’s troubling individuals who raise legitimate concerns about corruption and malpractice within Parliament are subjected to punitive measures while those accused of actual wrongdoing are seemingly shielded from accountability.
The NGC calls on Dr. Abass Bundu, as the Speaker of Parliament, to demonstrate decisive leadership and uphold the highest standards of integrity and accountability.
It calls for an immediate, transparent, and impartial investigation into the allegations against the Clerk of Parliament, and appropriate disciplinary actions, if warranted, should be taken.
“NGC believes that corruption should be treated as a criminal offense. Part of the problem in our enforcement effort is the need for adequate, fair, and consistent punitive measures proportional to the crime’s nature, extent, and monetary value”.
It urges the Anti-Corruption Commission of Sierra Leone to revise its approach by discontinuing the practice of treating acts of corruption in Sierra Leone as a civil offense rather than a criminal offense indicating that such practice allows individuals with unique connections and privileges to evade accountability for their crimes by simply paying fines without facing imprisonment, adding that believes that effective anti-corruption enforcement requires certain acts of corruption, whether active or passive, in both the private and public sectors to be classified as criminal offenses and the approach would ensure that individuals convicted of corruption, regardless of their wealth or connections, must serve a prison sentence commensurate with the severity of their crimes as failing to implement stringent punitive measures as deterrents only perpetuates further corruption.
The release concluded by urging the Parliament to create an environment that encourages whistleblowers to come forward with concerns about corruption and malpractice without fear of reprisal stating that a truly transparent and accountable Parliament is essential for advancing democracy and good governance in Sierra Leone.
It reaffirms NGC’s commitment to working towards a Sierra Leone where transparency, integrity, and accountability are upheld at all levels of government, including the Parliament.