By Joseph Johnson
The Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu has ruled that a proper and explicit reference to the constitution in the Publication of the gazette be made, and that on 12th June which is the adjourned date, the constitutional amendments and the Public Elections Bill 2022 be enacted or rejected even if it take the house to sit day and night.
Speaker Bundu made this ruling after a serious exchange between the ruling and opposition members of parliament on issues of following a proper procedure in debating and enacting amendments to the constitution. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice last week laid the Public Election Bill before parliament and started debate on it after it was introduced but the main opposition did not take part in the debate asking that they are given more time to study the bill. The house was to continue debate on the bill yesterday 5th July 2022 but that did not happen after several obstructions.
The sitting was first stood down for an hour after the opposition insisted that the visitors in the upper and lower gallery leave the house. “We are not safe in the house and we must be allowed to carry out our job in a conducive atmosphere not these types of visitors,” Hon. Bah said. He continued that the said visitor used motherly invectives on them earlier when the sitting was about to start which he noted that such is happening for the first time. Even after the speaker of parliament, Hon. Abass Bundu assured that the strangers be allowed to witness the sitting and not be heard or else they will be asked out, Hon. Chernor Bah still insisted that they leave. Even the appeal of the Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Nyuma was not enough to change the leader opposition’s mind. The second argument happened after the Attorney and Minister of Justice Mohamed Lamin Tarawallie laid the constitutional instruments but the leader of opposition pointed out that the said bill was not properly gazetted especially on the second publication. The leader of government business Hon. Nyuma tried to plead for a suspension of the constitutional amendment instruments for the debate of the Public Elections Bill to continue, “yes we agree that there are technicalities but let us suspend the instruments and continue with the debate on the Public Elections Bill of 2022, we know we cannot achieve the 2/3 majority but let Sierra Leoneans know why we want to amend the elections laws to ensure transparent and fair elections,” Nyuma said. But the leader of opposition insisted that the right thing should be done in terms of procedure citing the conditional provisions in subsection seven of section 108 of the 1991 constitution that discourages or disallows an amendment to the constitution through an act of parliament unless it is done in express terms. The speaker also supported the point of Hon. Bah citing that it is in fact a treasonable offense. The whole argument took another momentum after Hon. Hindolo Gevoa pointed out that there no provisions in the public elections bill that is connected to the constitution and pleaded that the debate goes on assuring that it will not affect the procedure, but Hon. Bah and Hon. Foday Mario Kamara deputy leader of NGC said proper procedure of the instrument should be followed before the debate of the Public Elections Bill of 2022. This the led to the speakers ruling that; “The Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Chernor has ruled that a proper and explicit reference to the constitution in the Publication of the gazette be made, and that on 12th June which is the adjourned date, the constitutional amendments and the Public Elections Bill 2022 be enacted or rejected even if it takes the house to sit day and night.”