Anti-Corruption Commission presents 2019 report to president Julius Maada Bio

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 August 2020:

Yesterday Friday, the Deputy Commissioner of the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) – Augustine Foday Ngobie, presented the commission’s 2019 Annual Report to President Dr Julius Maada Bio.

Augustine Foday Ngobie said that the report is in fulfilment of the provision of Section 19(1) of the ACC Act of 2008 as amended, noting that the report comprehensively chronicles the overall activities of the Commission and captures achievements of all departments for the year under review.

He said that 2019 could be safely described as a year of remarkable success for the Commission, taking into consideration the achievements and success stories both locally and internationally. He also said that they have strengthened the powers of the Commission through the amendment of the laws which have made corruption a high risk but low return venture.

“Your Excellency, the Commission remains very grateful to you for the determined and inspiring leadership demonstrated towards the fight against corruption and the general work of the Commission. I also extend our thanks to the Ministry of Finance for its support in the payment of salaries, provision of recurrent expenditure and development,” he said.

President Bio commended the leadership and staff of the Commission for the report and for their unwavering commitment to the fight against corruption over the last year.

“Since I assumed office, I have prioritised fighting corruption because it is a threat to our development as a nation. A corrupt country is adverse for economic and social development, foreign direct investment, effective service delivery, fair play and equal opportunity, equal access to justice and the rule of law.

“Today, the presentation of this report gives us an opportunity to reaffirm my Government’s commitment to fighting this war on corruption. As I say often, this is a war we must fight and it is a war we must win,” he said.

“First, in 2019, I signed into law the Anti-Corruption Amendment Act of 2019 in fulfilment of both a manifesto and public commitment I made; second, the Special Anti-Corruption Division was established in the High Court with five dedicated Judges to exclusively sit on ACC cases.

“Third, the Honourable Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, on behalf of my Government, launched my Government’s strategic blueprint that includes the public and private sectors in fighting corruption.

“Fourth, our international reputation has been enhanced because our international rating on controlling corruption and corruption perception indices are all very favourable.

“Fifth, Sierra Leone scored 79% in the Millennium Challenge Corporation control of corruption indicator. This was an improvement on the 71% score in 2018 during our very first year in office.

“Clearly, this was a significant improvement on the failing score of 49% scored by our predecessors.

“Sixth, surveys carried out by independent civil society organisations and funded by foreign governments, indicate significant improvements in fighting corruption,” the president concluded.

You can read the president’s speech in full here:

Let me start by commending the leadership and staff of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for the Report and your unwavering commitment to the fight against corruption over the last year.

Since I assumed office, I have prioritised fighting corruption because it is a threat to our development as a nation. A corrupt country is adverse for economic and social development, foreign direct investment, effective service delivery, fairplay and equal opportunity, equal access to justice and the rule of law. Today, the presentation of this Report gives us an opportunity to reaffirm my Government’s commitment to fighting this war on corruption. As, I say often, THIS IS A WAR WE MUST FIGHT AND IT IS A WAR WE MUST WIN.

The year 2019, which the Report focuses, was both historic and significant in the fight against corruption for many reasons.

First, in 2019, I signed into law the Anti-Corruption Amendment Act of 2019 in fulfilment of both a manifesto and public commitment I made during the State Opening of Parliament in 2018 to resolutely stamp out corruption and make it unfashionable in public life. The amended Act further strengthened the powers of the Commission, and addressed challenges that had undermined the success of the ACC.

Second, in 2019, the Special Anti-Corruption Division was established in the High Court with five (5) dedicated Judges to exclusively sit on ACC cases. Corruption cases no longer languish in court. Case management and trial processes for corruption cases are now more predictable, fairer, and faster.

Third, in 2019, the Honourable Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, on behalf of my Government, launched my Government’s strategic blueprint that includes the public and private sectors in fighting corruption. The National Anti-Corruption Strategy (2019-2023) or NACS is unique because it adopts a holistic, three-pronged approach to fighting corruption: Education, Corruption Prevention, and Enforcement.

Also, the strategy foregrounds the effective functioning of the Integrity Management Committees (IMCs) established in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.

Fourth, in 2019, our international reputation has been enhanced because our international rating on controlling corruption and corruption perception indices are all very favourable. Transparency International’s Corruption Afro-Barometer Report released in 2019, ranked Sierra Leone third, among 35 countries in Africa, for Government’s effectiveness in the fight against corruption. 66% of Sierra Leoneans believe that the Government is doing well in the fight against.

Remember that in 2015, only 19% of Sierra Leoneans held the view that their Government was doing well to fight corruption. Sierra Leone jumped up ten places in the 2019 Transparency Global Corruption Perception Index. We have jumped from 129 in 2018 to 119 in 2019. For the first time, we scored above the Sub-Saharan average of 32.

Fifth, in 2019, Sierra Leone scored 79% in the Millennium Challenge Corporation control of corruption indicator. This was an improvement on the 71% score in 2018 during our very first year in office.

Clearly, this was a significant improvement on the failing score of 49% scored by our predecessors.

Sixth, surveys carried out by independent civil society organisations and funded by foreign governments, indicate significant improvements in fighting corruption. The Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law’s National Corruption Perception Survey Report titled “Actions, Hopes and Impediments in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone,” states that 92% of respondents believe that the Anti-Corruption Commission is creating the greatest impact in the fight against corruption.

The survey further reports that three years ago, 57% of Sierra Leoneans believed there were sacred cows. That number has decreased to 47.7% over the last one year indicating greater confidence in investigation, prosecution, and trial rates.

I am pleased to note that in 2019, the Anti-Corruption Commission expanded its operations and opened its North-West Regional office in Port Loko. As I have indicated, decentralising the control of corruption broadens the overall integrity framework because it gets more local stakeholders and actors directly engaged in combatting corruption in their local precincts.

I also note the progress made in constructing the headquarters of the Anti-Corruption Commission. Government will continue providing all necessary support to ensure its timely completion.

Ladies and gentlemen, whilst these developments highlighted above show that we are clearly on the right path, winning the war against corruption requires sustained commitment and increased public confidence.

There will always be concerns, opinions, and challenges about the cases you investigate, the cases you prosecute, the cases you win, and the cases you lose in court. But do not be distracted. As a Government, we are determined and committed to a sustained and elevated fight against corruption in this country.

Let me conclude by appealing directly to citizens that the fight against corruption is not just the responsibility of the Government or the Anti-Corruption Commission. Given the cost of corruption for our national development, for service delivery, and for economic and other opportunities, it is the duty of every citizen to say something and do something about ending corruption. It is a veritable existential threat to our nation, and we must all see corruption as a common enemy that we must collectively fight.

TOGETHER, WE MUST FIGHT CORRUPTION AND TOGETHER WE WILL WIN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION.

On that note, I am pleased to receive the 2019 Annual Report from the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commissioner and hope to receive the next Report with even more accomplishments. I thank you

3 Comments

  1. “Together, we must fight corruption and together we will win the fight against corruption.” Of course, each and every one in the country would be happy to be part of the fight to eradicate this malignant disease in the social fabric of society called corruption. As the President clearly stated, this cancer of corruption is a hindrance to “economic and social development, foreign direct investment, effective service delivery, fairplay and equal opportunity, equal access to justice and the rule of law”. Fantastic sermon by the President that tempts even the unbelievers to be prepared to convert to the President’s crusade.

    Nonetheless, Mr President can you enlighten the nation on the disappearance of US$18 million from government coffers during your brief stint as head of the infamous NPRC junta in 1996? There are also rumours flying around that you and your family are in ownership of an up and running 5-star hotel in The Gambia. The nation can still recall your unfortunate spell of over 20 years without reputable employment. Can you account for the value of this hotel, and how you managed to accomplish such an exorbitant project within 2 years of becoming President? In other words, did you embezzle the money from the country? What about the non-budgetary expenditure of over US$1 million siphoned from the Single Treasury Account for the disbursement of the First Lady’s two-day launching of the ‘Hands Off Our Girls Campaign’ and the operational and overhead costs of her office? Was this not corruption by the President and/or First Lady at the highest degree?

    The notion of ‘no sacred cows’ is one of the in-built principles in the framework of the fight against corruption. However, looking from another angle, this notion is clouded in the disappearance of the mystery US$1.5 million in the private account of the Chief Minister, David Francis, at Ecobank. This case was trivialized by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and appears to be swept under the carpet. Moreover, the Chief Minister has been complicit in various illicit activities including the missing 50,000 bags of rice donated by the People’s Republic of China for the school feeding programme.

  2. Where was Ben Kaifala when the ACC report was being presented to President Bio by his deputy – Ngobie? Has he been ostracised, or is he going through some pangs of conscience, given his selective use of his power?

    ACC stands deeply distrusted and comprised. The objectivity and professionalism which should be its pillars, stand shaken to their foundation. Just the other day the chief minister was caught on video condoning corruption, when he said that if an official used ninety nine percent of a sum of money on a project and pocketed the remaining one percent, that should be understood. Perhaps the $1.5 million associated with him a few months ago was the one percent he embezzled from a huge sum of money aimed at the development of the country. ACC has become a joke too funny for laughter. We are not going anywhere.

  3. The Anti corruption commission, should not take their foot off the pedal. In fighting this cancer we call corruption, this report should not be seen as a congratulatory gesture to say job well done, but serve as a timely remunder that we still have a long way to go before we reach the mountain top. Right now, we are at the bottom of the mountain of corruption, and still trying to map out a fomular how to tackle it. This mountain of corruption that is higher than Mount kilmanjaro or Mount Everest that have cast a long shadow of underdevelopment in our country has caused us all sort of problems including the RUF wars and above else created a rich clique of supper rich corrupt politicians versus the majority struggling masses that go to bed every day not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

    So as a nation, we need to work hard to eliminate corruption at all cost, So for some of us that lost family members during the RUF wars will be assured they didn’t die in vain.Anyone caught stealing from the state, should be named, and shame and be declared public enemy number one. This report should be seen as the beginning not the end in the fight against this scourge that has held back our country’s development for so long. Corruption is a cancer that needs to be cut off from the fabric of our society.

    It should not be left to the government alone to fight it. They can point the way, but we the people of Sierra Leone should lead the way. Corruption should be fought at all levels of society. It is the duty of every Sierra Leonean to fight it, where ever it rears its ugly head. From the traffic cop that ask for small tbing from the okeke man, to the honourable minister that divert funds meant for his ministry to his private bank account. This fight is a fight that demands the active participation of every citizen of Sierra Leone.

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