September 29, 2017 By Jariatu S. Bangura
Deputy Minority Leader of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Hon. Ansumana Jaiah Kaikai, yesterday withdrew his initial motion for a debate on new nomination fees, a statutory instrument which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday 19 September.
Speaking in Parliament, the opposition lawmaker said: “I rise on standing Order 31 (1) to withdraw the motion that I so graciously moved in this House without any grudge because I believed that NEC up to this point has done its task on the issue and I want all of us to know that there is a Statutory Order on the same name that is not part of this statutory instrument No. 115 of 2017. Therefore, I withdraw.”
On the aforementioned date – 19 September – Hon. Frederick Sourie of the All Peoples Congress (APC) by notice intimated lawmakers to debate the statutory instrument. In response, Hon. Kaikai moved a motion for it to be debated because of the importance attached to the document.
In order for the Speaker to grant a motion to debate any issue in parliament, a lawmaker has to forward a letter to the clerk’s office for it to be placed on the order and debated. But Hon. Kaikai, who had initially moved the motion, failed to sign the said letter, which the clerk’s office produced for the speaker’s perusal.
However, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Chernoh M. Bah, argued that they were not in any way blaming the opposition member of parliament, but merely guided by the rules of the House.
“All we want is that let the MP go as per rule. He is now asking for the letter he sent to the clerk’s office, which bears no signature. If he was not the one that moved the motion, why then is he withdrawing it from the House?” Hon. Bah questioned.
On his part, Hon. Rado Yokie stated that there was need to check the Hansard for precedent, referencing a similar move by Hon. Paran Tarawally on the increment of passport price, which the said lawmaker subsequently withdrew.
“So, it is necessary that the deputy minority Leader do likewise,” he said.
Hon. Solomon Segepor Thomas argued that when rules or laws are made they are likely to be tested, and that when the mover of a motion has decided to withdraw it, such could pose very serious problem, thus urging the speaker to address the said issue, pursuant to Standing Order 31.
Meanwhile, Hon. Kaikai maintained that if it was desirous to debate the motion, the Speaker should guide members to continue the business of the House.
Speaker of the House, Hon. SBB Dumbuya, however, stated that they were guided and governed by rules and as lawmakers, they should follow those rules even in the said circumstance.
“On the issue of Hon. Paran, there was no contravention or dissenting voices, unlike this one which is a different case. If the motion was not Hon. Ansu Kaikai’s, which is in the Order Paper as the proposer of the motion, then what is the motion? I am therefore suspending the debate on this matter,” he concluded.
The current boss of the National Electoral Commission, Nfah Allie Conteh, has proposed new nomination fees for candidates vying for various positions in next year’s multitier elections, including for president, lawmaker, mayor/chairmen of local councils and counselors.
If approved by parliament, the new fees would represent a significant reduction vis-à-vis those imposed by his predecessor in the 2012 elections.