Posted on March 4, 2021 by Pnafrica
Today’s thirty-eighth plenary sitting of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone (Third Session) had a nuance of staccato, a kind of play and pause nature.
Hon. Solomon Sengehpoh Thomas presided as acting Speaker for the third consecutive time in a row for obvious reasons ranging from the substantive Speaker being out of the country on international duty (Chief Envoy to Guinea) and upholding of the precepts of parliamentary best practice, wherein Mr. Speaker’s interest (daughter confirmed as High Commissioner to Kenya and confiscated properties to be revoked) was among the businesses of the House.
The Lower Gallery was attended by supporters of mostly the newest and newly sworn-in Member of Parliament (MP) representing Constituency 010, Kailahun District, Hon. Zainab Kama Brima. Her election and swearing-in add to the number of female MPs to eighteen which attracted slight Female Caucus pomp.
Solomon Jamiru, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation tabled, “Convention A/P.1/7/92 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.”
The House however reverted to Committee Room No.1, after Hon. Hassan Sesay, Opposition APC Whip trumpeted the issue of the health and other facilities of MPs, which are arguably poor as to be compared to other countries, although the country’s economic status is not that buoyant.
This meeting was held in closed doors and its outcome is unknown but one thing that is certain for sure is that this is not the first time the said matter of conditions of service for MPs is being raised in the Well.
The Leader of the main opposition APC party, Hon. C.R.M. Bah took an opportunity to request a minute of silence for the victims of the fatal road accident claiming the lives of some nine footballers in Bombali District, Northern Sierra Leone. The House nonetheless, observed a minute of silence for the affected persons wishing their souls eternal rest.
House Leader, Hon. Mathew S. Nyuma, announced the constitution of a Committee to investigate the case of water pollution reported by Hon. Alice. J. Kumabeh. Hon. Sarh Emerson Lamina was appointed Chairman of the said Committee deputized by Hon. Yusuf Mackery and other Members from across different political parties. Hon. Nyuma also announced the Committees to which the newly sworn-in MPs (Hon. K. Davies, Hon. H.J Fabba, and Hon. Z.K. Brima) are members. Each one of the three MPs is being apportioned to serve in three different parliamentary sessional
House Speaker, Hon. Thomas took time to urge Special Select Committee Chairmen (Ethics, Corruption perception, etc) to submit their reports by the next adjourned sitting of Parliament, adding that, ‘Keeping these reports is not in our favor.” The Speaker also instructed the House to provide the funding for the undertaking of the said activities of oversight to polluted water areas. He also promised to furnish facts to the House on the matter of alleged fraud for which
the Leader of Government testified as a third prosecuting witness in Court, whereas, Mr. Speaker, who is also a lawyer leads the prosecution.
On item No. 5 (Petition), the House was irresolute. Although not made very clear, this item, credible sources have it that the Leader of the C4C Party, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina was to read a petition praying: “That this Honorable House hereby Revokes and thereby declares as null
and void its earlier Resolution passed on 21st June 2007 empowering the Government of the late President Ahmed Tejan Kabba to compulsorily acquire two properties of Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu and his family located at Plot 14, 28 The Loop, Wilberforce Loop, Wilberforce, Freetown on the grounds that vital information had been withheld from Parliament relating to the fact that the said properties had been the subject of litigation before the highest Courts of Sierra Leone in
respect of which Judgement had been delivered by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on 17th March 2006 and 10th January 2007 respectively, and that by this Revocation the said Judgement of the Courts shall remain valid and shall prevail in perpetuity,” in tandem
with the provisions of S.O. 17.3.4. and 5. However, the timeliness of this revocation prayer has been questioned, but observers say the current Parliament is now on the verge of righting the wrongs of its predecessor at a time that is arguably more than expedient for the individual in question. At the end of the day, this matter was not dealt with and House Speaker, Hon Thomas said: “unfortunately we cannot proceed today with the petition; we will proceed with the petition next week on the next adjourned date.” Ears to the ground have it that the opposition had asked for more time to study the document before a decision can be taken on it.
There was also the reallocation of seats of Hon. K. Vandy occupying the seat of the late Hon. A. O. Kamara, while Hon. Sarty Banya takes the seat of Hon K. Vandy, and, the newest MP, Hon. Brima takes the seat of Hon. Banya.
On the plethora of Personal Explanations (SO 23), Hon. C.R.M. Bah gave notice of complaint that the SLRA is not working and, the issue of cargo tracking agreement, operating without a ratified agreement and no clear terms of conditions, promising to table a motion if the needful is not done on the subject matter.
Hon. Alice J. Kumabeh, said the polluted water she complained about is now far better than two-three weeks ago, but her intervention was ejected by Hon. Nyuma and House Speaker, both of whom urged her to wait until after the findings of the newly established ad-hoc
committee to investigate the issue. She also talked about the welfare and security of MPs but that also was overruled by Mr. Speaker, noting that they have discussed it.
Hon. A.A. Koroma, stood on Section 56.3 of the Sierra Leone 1991Constitution averting attention to current serving Ministers (Resident Ministers, Minister of Defense, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, etc) serving in dual capacities, arguing that Paolo Conteh, former Ebola Response Chief was relieved off duty before serving as Ebola Coordinator. Mr. Speaker ruled that it was
very much contentious, however, Hon. Nyuma called for a notice to be served to wit, arguing on the issue of profit, “ give us notice, it is a debating point.” Hon. Koroma however served a notice of motion that Ministers serving in dual capacities be relieved of their duties.
Hon. A.K. Kamara said the telecommunications network in Kambia is problematic and Orange mobile company has listened to their plea and is constructing towers for which he expressed gratitude and thanksgiving for more communication poles.
Hon. A. B.Fofana, complained to the Minister of Works overloads of road contracts and the road from Bo to Matotoka not being done well due to the sidelining of stakeholders. This point was countered by Hon. Bashiru Silikie, Chairman Works Committee, and Deputy Leader, whose point of motion was countered by the Speaker that his objection does not subsist and he should not defend contractors as the issue affects the MP’s constituency. A letter to the Works Committee is to delve in-depth into the matter.
Hon. Saa Charles said he has been writing questions to Ministers as demanded by the Speaker but they have not been answered, he questioned the reality of question time and accused the Speaker of failure to make sure that these questions are answered. Mr. Speaker however asked for a follow-up on the Clerk’s Office, not the Speaker. “Your questions are currently being processed, one of the Directors told me,” Mr. Speaker said, noting that by next week, action should be taken. The timing of the depositing of the questions was however downplayed by the Leader of Government Business on the grounds that a motion can not overlap into another session.
Hon. Mohamed Bangura, flagged the issue of the ONS press release on the ban of the use of political party Marshalls, calling on the Defense Committee to summon the ONS Director to explain the motive of the press release at, “ a time that the Police (SLP) cannot provide security for most people, at a time that the SLP withdrew Samura Kamara, Sam Sumana, and his (Hon. Bangura) very own security guards.” Hon. Afiju Kanja, Defense Committee Chairman said that the claim will be ascertained and the reason behind the decision. He however questioned if it was a motion being moved by the MP or not, promising, “ I will do so by summoning the ONS Director on the next adjourned date.”
Hon. Dr. M. Kallokoh repeated concerns over road accidents talking about nine deaths and twelve hospitalized members of his soccer team. “The issue needs stakeholder intervention, may their souls rest in peace.”
Coming up, a pre-leg on the bill Cybercrime Act 2021 on Wednesday, Pollution Committee meeting just after sitting, etc.
The sitting stands adjourned to Thursday 11th March 2021.
Story By: Melvin Tejan Mansaray