Madi Ceesay, National Assembly Member for Serrekunda West has said the anti-corruption bill haslost its substance following the wiping out of vital clauses from it.
“The anti-corruption bill had suffered another setback because, after the completion of the committee of the whole House, where it was supposed to proceed to the third reading, few observations were made. Section 37 was deleted and that talks about illicit enrichment. This is a very important clause of the bill because this is a clause that would protect or guard against the government and public servants, pocketing state money,” Ceesay told The Voice.
Meanwhile, the House has removed sections 37 and 75 from the bill.
According to Sec 37, a person who has been a public officer, is in possession of unexplained wealth, through himself or herself or another person-
a) Maintains a standard of living above that which is commensurate with his or her presence or past official emoluments or
b) Is in control of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his or her present or past official emoluments, unless he or she gives a satisfactory explanation as to how he or she was able to maintain such standard of living or how such pecuniary resources of property came under his or her control, Commits and offense.
“This is a very important clause and it was deleted from the bill, making it toothless,” Mr. Ceesay lamented.
He stated that another important section that was deleted from the bill was Sec 75 titled Evidence of Custom or Convection Inadmissible.
Ceesay said this clause stated that in any proceedings under this Act, evidence shall not be admissible to see that any undue advantage mentioned in this Act is customary in any profession, trade, vocation, or calling or on a social occasion.
“These are the main two important clauses that have been deleted from the anti-corruption bill. If the bill passes without these two clauses, well I am not saying it will not be effective but these are very important clauses of the bill,” he stated.
Ceesay pointed out that the engine of the bill is the establishment of the anti-corruption commission.
“Even without those sections, when the bill becomes an Act, there would be an anti-corruption commission and that commission should be able to take care of a lot,” he pointed out.
The SK West NAM said he’s not upbeat about the restoration of the clauses in the bill.
“I am not optimistic of the re-including of these two clauses as they were removed from the consideration stage. Even if the clauses come back, they might not be included in the bill because the number of people that voted them out was higher,” legislator Ceesay stated