Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 January 2019:
Since his election in March 2018 as president of Sierra Leone, critics of president Julius Maada Bio, especially the opposition APC, have accused the president of tribalism and selective justice, in his pursuit of public officials alleged to have misappropriated public funds or abused their office for personal gain.
But today, an official at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that the former housing and lands minister – Dr. Dennis Sandy, who is now serving in the same capacity as Housing Minister, is being investigated for corruption and abuse of office.
It is understood that Sandy is keeping his job for now, subject to the outcome of corruption investigations into fraudulent private land deals.
What makes this action by the ACC significant is that, Dr Dennis Sandy is not only a senior minister in the current government, but comes from the Southern political heartland of the ruling SLPP party, and of the same tribal origin as president Bio..
That he is a Mende by tribe facing ACC investigation, may come as a surprise to many of president Bio’s critics who say that public officials belonging to the same tribe as the president are sacred cows in the government. But today, both the president and the head of the Anti-Corruption Commission have proven their critics wrong, it seems.
According to a source at the ACC speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, the allegations which have been made by several private individuals are in regard to the possible abuse of office, contrary to section 42 (1) of the ACC Act 2008.
Just few days ago, there were media reports accusing the ACC of “providing undue protection for Dr. Dennis Sandy”, whom they say “should have long been indicted by the ACC for corruption”.
An unnamed source at the ACC is believed to have told local media that: “Dr. Dennis Sandy has about three corruption cases to answer to the ACC, but the only problem we are facing is the interference of Commissioner Kaifala who always instructs us to shelve the matter for now. All of us at the Commission are now confused as to the hidden reason(s) for the undeserved protection of the Lands Minister by somebody who wants all to believe he is serious about impartially fighting corruption without fair or favour,” an accusation strongly denied by the ACC boss, when contacted for comments by the Sierra Leone Telegraph last week.
“We will go wherever the evidence of corruption leads without fear or favour,” the ACC boss said.
And with today’s action against Dr Sandy, there is plenty of hope that justice and the fight against corruption will go beyond tribal, political and regional affiliations.
One of the allegations made against Dr Sandy is that, “Dr. Sandy is on record to have sold over 30 acres of community land at Mogegba, Mothaim, Gloucester, etc. in addition to issuing National Revenue Authority (NRA) receipts way below the actual amounts paid to members of the public, who apply for Freehold on various State Lands around Freetown”.
Sources at the ACC said that they are investigating every allegation made against minister Sandy (Photo), and that if found wanting, Sandy will face justice accordingly.
“The president is keen to ensure that the credibility, reputation and image of his government are not stained or brought into disrepute, by the wrongful or criminal action of any public official serving within his government,” a senior government official at State House told the Sierra Leone Telegraph today.
With weeks remaining before the start of a commission of inquiry into alleged corruption by ministers in the former APC government of which Sandy was also minister of housing and lands, it remains to be seen whether today’s action against Sandy – a southerner of Mende origin – now in the Bio – led SLPP government, would go a long way to building confidence in the opposition APC, who are questioning president Bio’s sincerity in fighting corruption.