Committee approves to dismiss ACC members

The Parliament's Independent Institutions Committee has voted to dismiss the members of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). The decision was made at a committee meeting held Sunday.

The committee first initiated the members' dismissal on December 9 based on the findings of a performance audit conducted by the Auditor General's Office. The commission members were granted a chance to respond to the allegations against them on December 16, and the members have since submitted their written responses to the committee.

The committee convened on Sunday afternoon to deliberate on the matter. During the meeting, the committee agreed that all ACC members must be dismissed. Therefore, the matter will be forwarded to the parliament floor for final approval.

Speaking at the committee meeting, Inguraidhoo MP Hassan Ahmed said the responses received from the ACC members were the same responses the committee previously received and said adequate time had been granted to them. While they have been summoned to the committee on numerous occasions, he said they were also given the chance to rectify issues. However, no positive changes had been recorded, he added.

The MP said the audit report shows no discussions take place between ACC members and the investigation officers regarding backlogged cases, adding that the members have not been able to formulate an SOP to date. Therefore, these are grounds to seek their dismissal, he said.

Hassan's sentiments were seconded by Bilehdhoo MP Ahmed Haleem, who agreed that the members had been given adequate time. He noted that when the members were appointed to the commission, they were specifically asked to prioritize investigating the MMPRC graft. He added that ACC should have used its legal powers to summon members to expedite the case.

Five committee members - Hassan, Haleem, Velidhoo MP Mohamed Shafeeq, Baarah MP Ahmed Abdulla, and Gan MP Mohamed Visam- voted in favor of Hassan's proposition to dismiss the current ACC members. The two members that voted against the recommendation were Villingili MP Ahmed Usham and Isdhoo MP Ali Hameed.

Member Hameed said the ACC members' responses were received by the committee that afternoon and that the letters were over 22 pages long. While several legal points were made in the responses, he said more time is necessary to review the document properly. He asked for three additional days to further review the case. However, as the first vote on the agenda was on MP Hassan's proposition, which got approved, Hameed's proposition was not put to the vote.

Five members were on ACC when the parliament first initiated their dismissal. They were Ali Ashraf, Ibrahim Shakeel, Mariyam Shiuna, Fathmath Anoola, and Aishath Abdulla. Both Ali Ashraf and Ibrahim Shakeel resigned from the commission ahead of the committee vote.

As per the performance audit, the commission had a large backlog, and several concluded cases were not forwarded for charging promptly. While 61 percent of cases that did not involve corruption were completed, only one percent was forwarded for charging. Although cases involving corruption were severely backlogged, the report said that ACC had successfully recovered only MVR 11,000 for the state.