National Assembly Members are finding it difficult to proceed with the 2019 Anti-Corruption Bill even though the bill has been tabled twice at the Assembly for detailed consideration and scrutiny.
After its first presentation on 20 March 2023, the bill was again tabled on 27 March 2023 for members to engage in the second reading on the consideration stage of the bill. But this time around proper copies of the bill were not circulated among members for consideration and scrutiny.
This resulted in a heated debate from members, as to which clauses in the Bill should be amended and those they thought should stand as they are, with guidance from the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Honorable Dawda A. Jallow.
Subsequently, after members debated back and forth on the amendments of some clauses without agreeing on a concrete term, the Speaker suspended the consideration stage for the second time, without giving a clear date for continuation of the process.
Speaking in an interview with The Point, the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Kiang West, Hon. Lamin Ceesay, said he would not partake in the passing of the Anti-Corruption Bill if its purpose is defeated by changing some valuable clauses which might jeopardize its purpose.
“What I am seeing is that they are trying to butcher this document into pieces and that will defeat its purpose, and if that continues, I can say it anywhere that I will not vote for this Bill because the purpose of the Bill is going to be defeated,” he stated.
Hon. Ceesay added that another controversial issue during the consideration stage was the clause that talks about the appointment of the commission members, which he believes should be amended.
“There is a clause that indicated that in appointment of the commission members, it must come to the parliament for approval, but for their removal, they are not coming here for approval. We are appointed by our people and if they are sacking them without our approval or notice, that is not right. If they are going to be removed from office, it must come to the parliament for approval,” he underlined.
He further emphasised: “I am not seeing the government’s willingness to fight corruption in this country.”
Hon. Lamin Ceesay also underlined the reasons why the Bill couldn’t still make its way out of the consideration stage.
“When it comes to the appointment of the commission members, the Bill did not give any power to the Executive for the appointment. We have realised that the members of Parliament are bringing amendments to give powers to the executive, which is going to defeat the purpose of the Bill,” he said.
Amid these controversies surrounding the Bill, debates on it are expected to continue in the second ordinary session of the National Assembly for the year 2023.