Parliament yesterday passed the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 which seeks to bring to speed and international standards the legal instrument to fight graft.
It follows a series of stop-starts over a bill that has proved as contentious as it has been deemed needed.
Civil society organisations had shown considerable interest over the bill. When it was first discussed at the legislative committee stage on July 17 civil society groups told MPs that there was the need for it to be passed.
Some amendments were made to the bill but which cannot be reported at this stage. The bill in its original form seeks to give badly-needed powers to the commission, including having prosecutorial powers, new corruption offences and the declaration of assets by public officials.
The passing of the new bill follows the approval last week by parliament of an amendment to the country’s constitution ceding the power to prosecute from the Attorney General to the ACC.
Reporting back to Parliament yesterday, the legislative committee chairman Chernoh Maju Bah said they had met on 30 July to discuss the bill further where they examined its objectives, legalities and other technical issues.He said the issue of gifts was critically discussed more so by Paramount Chiefs who asked to be excluded in that area because to them, gift was a norm in their societies. The bill states that gifts up to Le 500,000 are acceptable but above that they should be made public.
By Ishmael Bayoh