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“OUR DEMOCRACY IS UNDER ATTACK”

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BYPA-DIKALI

All Peoples Congress, in a release signed by its National Secretary General, Ambassador Dr. Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, has joined other well-meaning Sierra Leoneans at both home and abroad, local and international organisations, to condemn what the party described as “unconstitutional suspension of the country’s Auditor General and her deputy.

The release states, in the affirmation, that the country’s hard-won democracy, is under attack.

The release notes that, the APC is baffled by the insistence of the government to go ahead with the flawed procedure by which His Excellency, the President, had suspended Mrs. Lara Taylor- Pearce, the Auditor General and Mr. Tamba Momoh, the Deputy Auditor General. The APC, according to the release, is baffled “this suspension conveniently comes two weeks before the Audit Report is to be laid in Parliament”. The Party is wary about the setting up of a Tribunal by the Attorney General to investigate them for alleged ‘‘professional misconduct’’.

“The APC brings to the attention of all Sierra Leoneans and the International Community that this unprecedented action to suspend the Auditor General and one of her deputies and then establish a Tribunal, after the fact, to find reasons to justify the action of our Executive is unconstitutional and undermines our nascent democracy that our people so zealously guard and nurture,’’ the release states, adding “as a Party representing the interest of the people, ‘‘we condemn and challenge this action with a view to safeguarding our Constitution and the Independence of State Institutions.’’ The APC cited portions of  the Constitution and take note of the various safeguards placed on the Office of the Auditor General, with a view to protecting its independence and mandate so as to ensure accountability in the financial management of the country’s resources, as encapsulated in Section 119(6) of the Constitution, which  states in relevant part that “in the exercise of his function under this Constitution or any other law, the Auditor General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.”

Additionally, pursuant to section 119(9) the Auditor General’s tenure in office has the same protection as that of a High Court Judge, the release further notes. The release adds: “Section 137 (4) of the same Constitution sets forth in detail the process to suspend or remove a judge which is applicable to the Auditor General and states in relevant part that ” subject to the provisions of this section, a judge of the Superior Court of Judicature may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or for statement misconduct and shall not be so removed save in accordance with the provisions of this section. “

The APC believes, since the due process was not followed, the suspension or removal of the Auditor General should be rescinded. The APC has also notes the attempt by the Attorney General of Sierra Leone with his November 8th 2021 letter, to legitimize a flawed and unconstitutional process. The APC respectfully maintained, the Attorney General is a mere busybody in this process since the Constitution does not give him any role to play in the suspension or removal of the Auditor General.

“We urge the Attorney General to stay out of the process and urge the Judicial and Legal Service Commission to strictly abide by the mandates of the Sierra Leone Constitution,’’ the release urges, noting “We also urge the Judiciary to act as one of the arms of government as the Constitution anticipates and rejects efforts of the government to bypass the mandates set forth in our laws.’’

The APC also believes the Government is testing the waters to see just how much more illegalities they can inflict and get away with.

“Our governance structures are being eroded, our rights are being chipped away and our electoral integrity is on the line as is evident from the EU Reports a fortnight ago; this blatant unconstitutional action further illustrates and compounds the problems we face and points to a crisis that is at the heart of our survival as a country and as a people. The APC also suggested the blatant unconstitutional action affects the economic stability of the country and that, it further erodes investor confidence, which in turn impacts our economic activities and ability to create jobs – the real Bread and Butter issues facing the people at the moment.

“This line of action has no place in our modern democracy, and we therefore call on the President and on Parliament to whom the Auditor General is to present the 2020 Audit Report to ensure that due process, as laid down in the Constitution is adhered to and that our Auditor General and her Deputy are reinstated,’’ the release calls. “We urge Parliament to insist that the Audit Report 2020 prepared by our respected Auditor General and her team be released forthwith and without being tampered with,’’ the release concludes.

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