August 8, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Chief Executive of Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has stated that no amount of intimidation by Members of Parliament would prevent the organisation from moving ahead with their accountability campaign.
Abdul M. Fatoma’s statement came following reaction by some Members of Parliament to a CHRDI press release dated 26 July, 2016 which alleged that parliamentarians and parliamentary officials have failed to properly account for over Le120 billion spent on Parliament by government in the last five years.
“We are aware that in their feeble attempts to threaten our organisation for asking these questions, they have indicated their intent to use “Contempt of Parliament” as provided for in the Constitution, to intimidate and silence us. No amount of intimidation from corrupt individual(s) in and out of Parliament would prevent us from doing that,” he said.
He noted that as a reputable and respected Human Rights, Social Policy Advocacy International Organisation that only cares for the welfare of the poor people, who are being blatantly cheated by their representatives in Parliament, they consider such reaction as outrageous, wicked and absolutely uncalled for by MPs.
He urged Parliament to handle the issue responsibly through public disclosure and meaningful deliberations, not through intimidation and threat of Contempt of Parliament.
Mr. Fatoma assured of their determination and readiness to continue to reiterate their call to ensure the effective implementation of existing anti-corruption legislation(s) in respect of parliamentarians and other government officials.
“Our parliament has to be accountable to the Sierra Leonean public. Parliamentarians are servants of the people for whom they make laws. They are not exempt from the laws they pass and Parliamentarians are reminded that they are not above the law but subject equally to the law in similar manner as their constituents,” he maintained.
He added that civil society organisations and citizens should not feel threatened to ask Parliament to be accountable to voters for expressing their opinions on issues of transparency and accountability.
A release from Parliament on 2 August repudiated the claims by the firebrand rights activist, describing the claim as “disturbing” and urged citizens as to their obligations under section 13 of the 1991 Constitution. The section though states, among others that, it is the responsibility of citizens to “prevent the misappropriation and squandering of funds belonging to the Government, local authorities or public corporations…”
The release also urged Mr. Fatoma “to produce documentary evidence backing his claims”, while an amended version, published subsequently implored journalists to be mindful of how they report the story, in what media analysts have described as a thinly disguised threat.