Section 64 (3) of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone was yesterday amended by Parliament to enable the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) prosecute cases on their own.
Section 64 (3) states that – All offences prosecuted in the name of the Republic of Sierra Leone shall be at the suit of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice or some other person authorized by him in accordance with any law governing the same.
This amended Act of the constitution will enable the Anti-Corruption Bill 2008 that is yet to be tabled in parliament to allow the ACC to prosecute corruption cases.
Introducing the Bill in parliament, the constitution of Sierra Leone amendment Act 2008, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abdul Serry Kamal said the amendment was to grant the ACC the power to prosecute offences involving corruption.
He explained that from the memorandum and object of the Bill, it was to remove the exclusive powers of the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecution in prosecuting criminal offences stating that the present amendment sought to limit both the powers of the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecution from prosecuting corrupt cases.
This amendment Bill the minister said gives the ACC commissioner the exclusive rights to prosecute offences under the Anti-Corruption Act adding that since the enactment of the ACC Bill in 2008 its commissioner had been complaining that he had not been able to discharge functions because of the restrictions of the Act for which he needed to have the concurrence of the Attorney General.
“What this amendment now does is to confer on the ACC the sole right to prosecute all offences under the Anti-Corruption Act – it is necessary to amend the constitution because those powers which were conferred on the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecution exclusively were enshrined in the constitution. We now share some of our prosecutorial powers with the ACC” he stated.
Reacting to the Bill, Hon Chief Kurr Kanagbaro intimated that when constitutions start to be amended people start thinking differently and acting differently.
He however supported the Bill hoping that the Bill will be effective and efficient.
Hon Cecil Osho Williams of APC stated that most of the people who have been corrupt are still around and living large.
He stated that he had defended cases and have witnessed where the prosecution lost because of non-compliance by the Attorney General.
The SLPP minority leader Hon Momoh Pujeh referred to the bill as harmless citing the powers to be given to the ACC.
Hon Edward Turay of APC, the leader of the House and Government Business called for the necessity of strengthening the ACC law.
By Ishmael Bayoh