• May 22, 2020

ACC Tame Sacred Cows?

ACC Tame Sacred Cows?
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In what should have been a process that protects no sacred cows now has more interests covering up certain matters in the anti-graft battle, being under taken by the Anti-Corruption Commission under the leaderships of President Dr. Julius Maada Bio and the highest paid public officer, ACC Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala.

The president Dr. Bio has always states his zero tolerant stances on corruption which initially seems to be effectively casting charms on high profile grafts in public and private sectors, with the expectations it will be fully cascaded downwards.

Commissioner Ben Kaifala is backed by the strongest political will from his boss president Bio to fight corruption like his competent predecessors; Abdul Tejan-Cole, Ady Macauley, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara who were all equally supported by former president Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who in their efforts tried to defeat corruption in its entirety.

That President Bio’s uncompromising position on corruption is to make Sierra Leone a corrupt free country by way of mitigating graft by all means possible is still far fetch, as if corrupt practices offenders are not aware about massive preventions measures and public education campaigns being regularly carried out by the ACC.

Ben Kaifala, the young man charged with the task is expected to spear no soul of Adam in fight against corruption, considering the negative impacts of corruption on the country over the years coupled with the very fine footing he started on especially in roping the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) former government workers, members and supporters for alleged corrupt offences mostly relating to claim of misappropriations of public funds.

That initially was considers as a good fight by most ruling Sierra Leone people’s Party members, supporters, cabinet ministers and other public officers, who hold the views that the fight should not in any way be selective.

And in that direction the ACC recovered some large amount of cash from past government officers that were paid into government coffers, and only God knows what is going on with the campaign taking into cognizance level of political will the commission is receiving from State House. That is why cynics are eager to know exactly what ACC Commissioner Ben Kaifala and his team are doing and are up to, apart from chasing political opponents for alleged “stealing of state funds,” while high profile ruling SLPP members and supporters are left unchecked. Is that part of the mode of operation no sacred cows drive? If it is certainly so, then we are all falling of the grace of our Lord.

The whole anti-corruption crusade appears to have turned out to be a mere compromising affairs at the ACC, even where the laws make it unconditionally clear that nobody should be speared in the process of defeating the common enemy against national development – corruption, yet the ACC continues to engaged in selective anti-corruption drive, where in certain corrupt practices offenders are highly favoured and protected against the laws for what is best known to the ACC team, especially investigators and prosecutors.

ACC investigators, prosecutors and the entire team should bear in mind that the law is the law and there is never are bad laws in any society, so whosoever happens to violates the laws contrary to the ACC Act should face the full penalties of the laws, without fear or favoure, then we can restore confidence in operation no government’s sacred cows or zero tolerant position on corruption.

Compromise and selective anti-corruption battle have actually come to the fore of the entire national campaign, to a peak that even junior staff of the anti-graft agency now vow not to be left out of frantic efforts at the commission to make quick money, dashes to grab their parcels like Johnette Kanu, ACC District Monitor, Bombali northern region did.

That tells us all that something is actually happening right from the top there to the bottom and it is rapidly becoming a norm in the country. So, blame not the junior ACC district monitoring officer in Bombali for going against the code of ethics of her job for want of personal gains. She must have experienced similar games being perpetuated within. This is certainly not the first time such a practice is being done and that she is not the only person or staff of the ACC that has been engaging in such as so many other ACC officers are as well bent on soundlessly compromising corruption cases for personal interests at the detriment of the nation.

Jognette Kanu might have run out of luck in the course of personalizing the Social Safety Net funds meant for vulnerable people in Bombali district, a thing that may have been done regularly by her predecessors. So we give huge thumbs up to the Africa Young Voices’ reporter that covered the event, for exposing such professional misconducts by workers of National Commission for Social Action and the ACC.

But why in the first place such an idea of withholding moneys meant for destitute had come to the minds of the defaulters, if at all ACC and NcASA people had not been in this before. The incident speaks volume that they are really not new in this game of extorting funds meant for the less opportune and fraudulently convert them into their personals.

For that, we heard and read in the media that strong initial reactions were taken against defaulters from both institutions. They were reportedly dealt with although that is not enough much as the fight against corruption and the compromising anti-graft battle are concerned as legitimate national issues. Tougher actions needed Commissioner Ben Kaifala so wake up and face the fight.

In recent months so many other corruption related matters and allegations have been swept under the carpets by the government and the ACC, all in the unholy name of saving big names from facing the full penalties of the law for their involvements in corrupt practices as well as the preventing the reputation of the ruling SLPP from being dragged into the mud for corruption.

Cases in point range from those of a matter allegedly involved the State House Chief Minister; Prof. David John Francis over the sum of $100,000.00, which a journalist Salliue Tejan Jalloh of the Times SL newspaper was trying to investigate but was arrested and detained in cell by Police at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department only for sending an SMS message to the high profile politician, asking him for his side of the story. That matter the ACC said it had investigated and proved Chief Minister Prof. Francis innocent, whiles the journalist was questioned severally by the ACC.

Another instance has to do with the said school feeding rice saga for which top level officers including former Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Alpha Osman Timbo, his Deputy, Emily Gogra and others at the said ministry were sacked, leaving several others who were also involved in the distributions of the rice now walking freedom streets. In fact, a large quantity of bags of rice were discovered at the resident of Minister of State North West, Isata Abdulai Kamara but she was never question and the ACC couldn’t make public the quantum of bags of rice that were found at regional minister’s home in Port Loko.

Other top government officers at State House who were as well reported to have transported huge quantum of the said school feeding rice to their home district Kenema to feed their siblings and relatives’ homes are still working very closed to the presidency with impunity. The whole matter has now left with periodical court appearances by the former ministers and his deputy. And don’t ask where were ACC’s compromising and selective justice scorpion squad was when those untouchable sacred cows carted away with the massive loots at the detriment of the flagship project free education.

Moreover quite recently, three officer of the Maritime Administration Kemokai, the Director of Procurement, Raymond Bamin Coker and Quality Manager, Hartwel Williams were arrested and detained by the ACC for alleged corruption offences but Coker and Williams were later released from Police cells whiles Kemokai the recipient of self contract award, is still trying to get his neck out of ACC’s net.

Coker and Williams who were expected to have stepped aside as by law to help the commission with their investigations into the matter, are still actively working with the SLMA as if they did nothing wrong. What a compromising stance and selective justice in the fight against corruption? Are Coker and Williams the new sacred cows in the government?

We shall continue to ask these legitimate questions for which we demand appropriate answers from the ACC Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala, under whose leadership all of these conciliations are taking place at the ACC. That is unfair in the face of the laws of the ACC considering that the law govern all and sundry without fear or favour, hence the anti-corruption should not in any way be selective nor compromising as it is being presently experienced.

Besides, the ACC by every indications should rise to the occasion and surge high level of trust, public confidence and confront corruption in the present administration through stringent probity processes into flawed awards of government contracts to incompetent ruling party members-contractors, relatives of ministers and other holders of high place public offices if we are to lend credence to the whole anti-graft campaign.

So if at all the government of President Dr. Julius Maada Bio means business to rid the entire governance and public service systems of with corruption, then that patters of conflict of interests, compromises and selective justice in the fight against corruption must be things of the past now than later.

And to that end, we shall continue to religiously follow up the processes, while anxiously waiting for the right answers from Gloucester Street as to whether the ACC is now taming sacred cows, compromising corrupt practices offenders or is Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala really committed towards the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone?

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