As Commission 67 Wraps-Up… Justice Annan Atugbah Bids Farewell

Commission 67 headed by Ghanaian Judge Justice Annan Atugbah has yesterday officially wrapped-up proceedings in Freetown.
In his official closing remarks he thanked both the defence and state counsels and the media for making his work very successful.
Justice Annan Atugbah was one among the three judges of the Judge-led Commissions of Enquiry instituted by the Government of President Bio to look into the activities of the Government of former President Ernest Bai Koroma spanning between November 2007 to April 2018.
The Commissions of Enquiry has investigated all persons who were President, Vice President, Ministers ,Deputies, Ambassadors and all other public officials that served in the Ernest Bai Koroma led government.
The initial idea to establish the Commissions of Enquiry emanated from the Governance Transition Team Report of July, 2018 was opposed to by the main opposition All Peoples Congress who say there members were principally targeted by the new regime.
APC Members of Parliament had stoutly defended the three constitutional instruments that were going to establish the three Commissions in Parliament.
In a do or die battle they have argued that the three constitutional instruments be expunged because they lacked the High Court Rules of Evidence.
The Commissions of Enquiry eventually started on the 29th January, 2019 amidst very high tensions.
President Bio officially administered the oath of office to three of the Sole Commissioners for the Commission namely: Sierra Leone born Justice Thompson, Nigerian Justice Biobele Georgewill and Ghanaian Justice Annan Atugubah to take over the Commissions of Enquiry for an initial period of six months.
The straw that break the camel’s back was the warning shot fired at the start of the maiden hearings by Nigerian born Justice Biobele who was to later investigate all the sensitive Ministries and Former President Koroma.
Justice Biobele who later became the icon of the Commissions of Enquiry with the most jam packed hall amongst the three had clearly stated in front of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice that contrary to the position peddled by many he would not coerce ‘Persons of Interest’ to appear before him.
He had further maintained that everywhere around the world where he had presided over such commissions he has never forced anybody to appear before him.
Most if not all the three judges had make public pronouncements that they would prevail over a very fair and impartial hearing.
The Persons of Interest and the APC who had earlier on refused to corporate with the Commissions saw the reasons and sent legal representations to the Commissions.
The Commissions to many Sierra Leoneans served as a sound platform for accountability and transparency in the management of state resources.They were reassuring that no longer again would state officials think that political offices are to make money or enrich themselves.
The three Judges/Commissioners are expected to provide reports around the various issues investigated.It is also expected that the report should be able to proffer very strong measures around key governance policy issues and reforms .
Oladipo Robin Mason, Morie Lenghor Rtd AIG, Robert Kowah and many others represented the State and presented evidence and witnesses around a number of dealings officials of the Koroma Government were implicated in.
On the side of the Persons of Interest notable lawyers like former Atorney General and Minister of Justice, Joseph Fitzerald Kamara, Ade Macauley, Rashid Dumbuya, Sorie Africanus Sesay and many others represented various Persons of Interest.
The Report of the Commissions of Enquiry is expected in less than three months.
The Government of Sierra Leone will translate the report into a Government White Paper.The White Paper will either accept the recommendations of the Commission or not.
Persons of Interest have the option to also challenge the Government White Paper in the Appeals Court.
This is the first time Sierra Leone has had Commissions of Enquiry.The final Government White Papers have called for the seizure of properties.
Most of these properties were returned back to their owners when their regime returns to power.
Most Civil Society Activist have preferred the country to have a through overhauling of our state structures with a view to get them to increasingly accountable and follow processes rather than instituting Commissions of Enquiry whenever the baton changes hands.

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