Majority Leader Aden Duale on Tuesday, June 16, introduced the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2020, which proposes more power to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in their efforts to investigate and prosecute corruption matters.
The bill, however, has stirred controversy when it comes to the interpretation of certain clauses and the handling of cases. A local publication on Thursday, June 18, reported that the President would be exempted from regulations which will be placed on state officials facing corruption charges.
Speaking to Newszetu, the majority leader clarified that the report was misleading as the bill did not protect any leader on corruption charges.
“The Bill does not contain any provision which targets or spares any person in the fight against corruption,” he told this writer.
“The Bill proposes to amend the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act to empower the EACC to apply to the Court for an order barring an appointed state officer from accessing their office if the officer is under investigation or has been charged with a corruption offence.
The majority leader observed that an order barring a state officer from his office was a drastic action with far-reaching consequences. In the interest of fairness and to prevent abuse of power, the Bill limits the grant of the order to a maximum period of 90 days.
The current section 62 (1) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act requires corruption cases to be concluded within two years from the date a public officer is charged and automatically suspended from office.
However, it does not provide what is to happen if the case is not concluded within two years.
“If the Act is left as it is, a public officer who has been suspended after being charged with a corruption offence will simply have to wait for two years to lapse and walk back to the office.
“The Bill proposes a safeguard by requiring such a public officer to apply for reinstatement at the end of the two (2) years if his or her case will not have been concluded. In the interests of fairness, the decision is left to the courts after considering what the EACC has to say on the matter,” he added.
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