Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 March 2022:
The fight against corruption in Sierra Leone will not end anytime soon. Criminals and those seeking to bribe their way to achieve their goal are becoming ever more creative and brazen, despite the introduction of tougher penalties by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
The government of Sierra Leone is losing hundreds of millions of dollars every year through corruption, which critics say is as rampant at the top of government as it is at the bottom rung of society.
Sierra Leone is one of the poorest nations in the world, despite the abundance of vast mineral wealth, fertile agricultural land and the huge potential of the Atlantic Ocean.
Thousands of children die every year because of poverty and poor healthcare, with one of the worst adult mortality rates on the continent.
There is no doubt, corruption must be curbed and good governance improved, if the government is to increase its revenue and rely less on foreign aid and borrowing which now stands at over $3 Billion and counting. So, what is the ACC going to do to step up its fight against corruption?
Last week, the ACC announced that it is re-introducing the payment of cash rewards for informants and whistle-blowers. Will this make any difference, or is this just another sticky plaster on a sore that refuses to heal?
This is what the ACC said in its public notice:
“The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to inform the general public that, in a bid to sustain, consolidate and improve on the remarkable gains the country has made thus far in the fight against corruption, the Commission is re-introducing a reward and incentives scheme for informants, whistle-blowers and citizens who support the ACC in its fight against corruption.
“In that vein, any member of the public who provides cogent and useful information to the Commission that leads to the successful prosecution and conviction of, and/or recovery of funds or property from a corrupt person (including public officers) will be rewarded 10 percent of the total amount or value of the 10 percent withheld by the Commission for its operations as per law.
“For instance, where the information provided by an informant or whistle-blower leads to the recovery of One Billion Leones (Le 1,000,000,000), the ACC will, as stipulated in Section 139 of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2008 as amended in 2019, withhold One Hundred Million Leones (Le 100,000,000) of the said sum, which constitutes 10 percent of the proceeds.
“Thereafter, the Commission will pay the sum of Ten Million Leones (Le 10,000,000) in full to the informant or whistle-blower, which would amount to 10 percent of the proceeds withheld as in the aforesaid example.
“Furthermore, the ACC assures all informants of their full protection as provided for in Sections 81 and 82 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019 and the Witness and Whistle-blower Protection Policy of the Commission including anonymity, identity masking, security, relocation, transfer, etc.”
By putting this offers out there, sounds to me more like the ACC is trying to regain the narrative after their botched attempts to persecute the leader of the opposition on corruption changes in our courts. Sometimes,
being wedded to cynicism and treating any announcements made by public bodies, with a dose of scepticism, is not only the right to do, if you are seeking answers to a particular problem, in our case, corruption in our public sectors in Sierra Leone, but to question the motive as to why after many years of fighting corruption in Sierra Leone, with no social and economic impact on both the corrupt and the corrupted,and society in general, it has suddenly dawn on Ben Kalifah, maybe his tried and tested tactics of fighting corruption have failed.Or better still it is time the ACC call it a day. As far as Iam concerned the ACC is in a desperate state of organisational restructuring, from the canopy of the top echelon of the ACC and the way it conducts its investigation to the bottom tire no doubt with a dedicated staff , so we can rebuild a more rebust ACC, that can independently investigate and punish corrupt public figures without fear or favour. There should be a legal protection to protect whistle blowers. The most effective ways of fighting corruption is from peoples working from inside this public bodies that are ready to stick their necks out for the good of our country with the knowledge they are fully protected by the laws of Sierra Leone, otherwise this scheme will not work. The other way of whistle blowing is simple. When an MP that was once poor like a church mouse, suddenly starts to build villas in our towns and villages, you got to ask questions, about his sudden unexplain wealth. So there you go Mr Ben Kalifah is not hard to uncover corruption, just look around you.
This must be the biggest HOAX of the century by ACC. Upon first inspection, you might think this is an April fool’s prank, however, we are still in March. The Africanist press, one of a kind whistleblower in our nation’s history, has been blowing the trumpet for the past 3 years, providing details of corruptions, backed with proven transactional evidence for ACC to pursue, nothing absolutely is being done by this pretentious ACC unit. Ben Kelfala has managed to transform this current ACC unit into an attack dog, purely meant for opposition figures and nonpolitically connected. What a sham!