The communications officer at the Local Government Commission, Mam Sait Ceesay, has described those questioning the legality of the presidential commission of inquiry set up to investigate the conduct of local government councils, between May 2018 to January 2023, as “grossly misinformed of the law”.
The veteran journalist said the commission of inquiry “was not a constitutional instrument that required it to be laid before the National Assembly prior to its establishment but rather was an executive instrument that did not require laying before parliament”.
“So the proponents of the argument that the instrument for setting up of the commission should have been laid before parliament are grossly misinformed on the law and grossly misinformed on the facts because the law did not support that view,” he stated.
Speaking to The Standard, Ceesay said: “The executive instrument for the commission of inquiry was dated 10th February, 2023, and issued by the command of the president of the republic under his signature. Perhaps those who are making that argument are not privy to that fact and we need to help them to be privy to that fact so that they do not misinform the public,” he stated.
Refuting the argument that the president did not follow the right procedure in setting up the commission, Mr Ceesay cited a high court’s refusal to entertain a motion of “restraining order” against the commissioners from sitting.
He stated that the Section 201 (2) of the Constitution was quite clear that “Where a Commission of Inquiry consists of more than two members, at least one Commissioner shall be a person who has special qualifications or knowledge in the field of the matter under investigation.”
He said the proponents of the flawed argument should make enquiries to ascertain whether the various commissions of inquiry established in the past were legal or not.
He added that the commission has a functioning secretariat and assigned officers to the commission to serve summons on witnesses.
On whether the commission is a witch-hunt, Mr Ceesay replied: “The commission is independent and has begun to gather and verify information, create an historical record of events, and provide a basis for further investigations. The commission will also recommend measures to redress misconduct, provide a full and impartial investigation, and hold perpetrators to account”.
He said instead of being criticised, the commission “deserves to be fully supported, and given the cooperation it requires” from the government, and to be adequately resourced.
“For us, the important thing is to have an independent commission that can do a decent job for everybody to see the antecedents, the facts and the sanctions it would come up with. Transparent process is what will help us as a country,” he added.