Hon. Chernoh R.M Bah, Leader of the APC in Parliament, on behalf of his colleagues held a press conference in committee room 1 in Parliament on 9th December 2021 to inform the press and the general public that their position on the Mid Term Census is “No Census”. He stated that their position before 19th April 2021, post 19th April and even as of today is no to illegal mid-term census.
“We are standing with our party to reject the census because the government failed to follow due process, illegality plus legality is still illegal”. Hon. Chernor Bah pin pointed two reasons why they as opposition MPs including NGC MPs and C4C MPs collectively informed the public in the chamber of Parliament about their position on the mid-term Census. He said that the census that is supposed to start on 10th December 2021 is not a legal census based on the procedures they followed and that they as opposition MPs don’t believed that a mid-term Census is necessary in Sierra Leone at this point in time. More so, they were not told of any country in the sub-region that has held a mid-term Census and definitely not in Sierra Leone.
He said elections will be in 2023, a year and few months from now. He added that there are certain things in the 2015 Census that need to be discussed but they are considering about the legitimacy surrounding the April 2021 statutory instruments laid in the House of Parliament and their position remained the same. “It was only after we granted interview to the AYV media and talked to the public, that was the time the government brought in the House of Parliament a Statutory instrument,” he said, pointing out that shows that they accepted what they were doing was wrong. He said, “we still challenged the procedures used to bring the instruments in Parliament is still not correct.” He said that the Standing Orders are very clear on when the President should call Parliament and that they have explained it before and that their position is very clear. Hon. Chernoh said that the Speaker should consult the two leaders in parliament, that is the majority and minority, and the clerk, then they would agree but that did not take place.
“What compounded the problem and makes it worse is that, all the things the government did before 19th April when we detected that they were doing something wrong, twenty one days after they claimed that the statutory instrument has taken effect, they didn’t go back to start all over, the government just continue with the census activities before 19th April, it is like they are taking illegality plus legality and claimed that it is legal. Illegality plus legality is definitely illegality” he highlighted. Ironically, he stated that Statistics Sierra Leone came to the House of Parliament for the first time on the eve of the so called mid-term census since they started the census process.
However, Hon. Bah said that there was no communication on how to engage Parliament, so that they will be able to ask SSL the relevant questions, therefore they only engaged MPs that are not opposed to the census. He said that he believed the entire membership of the APC, NGC and most of C4C were not part of the SSL engagement in parliament.
He reiterated that their position on the census remained the same. The mid-term census stipulated for 10th December 2021 is not legal and that they stand by the position of their political party. He concluded by calling on the press to reiterate what has been their position since the government started the census process. “Today we have manifested our position in the chamber and yes, we say no to the Mid Term Census and that through this medium, we have informed you that Statistics Sierra Leone today, for the first time attempted to engage Members of Parliament and that we don’t know how it happened because the engagement of MPs is a process more so on the eve of the so-called mid-term census,” the leader of the opposition stressed.