April 4, 2017 By Jariatu S. Bangura
Hon. Chernoh R.M Bah…Says no more time agenda would be tolerated
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Chernoh R.M Bah, who yesterday chaired deliberation on the controversy surrounding the boundary delimitation report, which was laid in parliament last month, noted that they would neither allow the executive to muzzle them nor would they tolerate any unconstitutionality or more time agenda for any institution of government.
He emphasized that Parliament was a respecter of the constitution, therefore would not tolerate any unconstitutionality to disrupt the electoral process being undertaken by the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
“It is clear that the Executive has violated the constitutional process but that does not mean we should allow others to bastardize or abuse it. We agree with you but as the lawyers usually say ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse,” he said.
While the NEC Chairperson, N’fa Alie Conteh, stated that the commission was doing a dual registration, which, according to him, has posed serious challenge to them, the deputy speaker noted that: “We pity you, as you have stated the challenges you are facing but we too as a parliament are going through the same challenges, as the public is now pointing fingers at us, telling us that we should put the constitution aside and do something else.”
He noted that: “This is the first time the constitution is being tested before parliament. If the instruments have not been laid on the table, then we would have had a case before us but now that it is before us, we will have to decide carefully.”
In the jam packed committee room No.1, Members of Parliament, National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice yesterday remained indecisive over the current boundary delimitation instrument, which lawmakers have said would have been approved before the commencement of the voter registration process.
Last Thursday, lawmakers stated in the well of parliament, that the current voter registration, being undertaken by the National Electoral Commission, was illegal on the grounds that the boundary delimitation instrument, which was laid before the House on 16 March, 2017, supposed to have been approved by parliament before the electoral body should commence voter registration.
Chairman of NEC, N’fa Alie Conteh, said it was true that they have not done as dictated by the law but that the commission was a law abiding institution, thus imploring parliament and the general public to stop pointing fingers at them and move ahead.
He noted that the electoral calendar was too tight and could not be compared to the previous ones.
“We have conducted the boundary delimitation process since 2016 and could remember vividly that we submitted our reports to the office of the Attorney General in November 2016. It is true that we are independent but we work with other ministries to attain the same objectives and goals. This is not the time to apportion blame on each other but the issue is left with the office of the Attorney General. We did not have intention to flout constitution,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Justice, John Arrow Bockarie, said there was need to commend others for what they have done, but noted that “the instruments in question have been laid on the table of parliament and we are only waiting for the authorisation of parliament to call upon us for discussion. We are still waiting for them as far as we are concerned.”
Meanwhile, the office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice only laid the said instrument in parliament on March 16, 2017.