Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 September 2016
After an investigation into serious allegations of corruption at the ministry of agriculture in Sierra Leone, the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has once again proved that it has teeth and can bite.
Although critics are accusing the commission of hacking at the heels of those at the bottom of the food chain in the government, the fairly new Anti-Corruption Czar – Mr. Ady Macauley says that he is fighting corruption at all levels of government and is determined to win.
In a statement issued today by the anti-graft agency, six people – including two journalists and a commercial motor vehicle driver, have been charged to court for offences, pursuant to the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, ranging from misappropriation of public property to impersonation of an ACC officer.
Mark Ivan Babatunde Dixon and Mohamed Alimamy Mansaray – both working for the ministry of agriculture, have been charged respectively with one count of misappropriation of public property contrary to section 36(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008.
It is alleged that Mark Ivan Babatunde Dixon misappropriated 980 bags of urea fertiliser and 17 bags of NPK 15-15-15 fertiliser, Mohamed Alimamy Mansaray is believed to have misappropriated 804 bags of urea fertiliser.
The fertilisers had been bought by the ministry of agriculture for distribution to local farmers to improve food production in the country.
In addition, Mark Ivan Babatunde Dixon has also been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, contrary to section 128(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008.
Two journalists from Bo district – Samuel Lahai and Julian Carey have jointly been charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit offence – conspiring to impersonate an ACC officer by holding out to staff at the Bo district education committee primary school that Samuel Lahai was an officer of the ACC.
Samuel is also indicted on one count of impersonating an ACC officer contrary to section 76 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008.
Kaifala Mansaray – a commercial motor vehicle driver was also charged with one count of offering an advantage to a police officer attached to the Ross Road police station in Freetown, as an inducement for not holding him in custody, contrary to section 28(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008.
John Nabie who is the town chief of Bumpe town in the Bo district, has also been charged with two counts of soliciting an advantage and two counts of accepting an advantage, contrary to section 35(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008.
Nabie is also accused of demanding and collecting monies for the beneficiaries of the world bank sponsored social safety net programme, which is aimed at helping to alleviate extreme poverty in communities.
The accused will appear in court at a date to be determined, and in the meantime have been granted bail.
Certainly, corruption had for long been institutionalized in the governments of Sierra Leone. The current government officials and some civil servants are no exception; it is unabated and even worse in practice. The ACC has to prove itself to the Sierra Leone people it is effectively willing to fight corruption at all levels and no gimmicks about it.
If the new ACC boss is to show credibility to the people that he means real business in his duty dispensation, he should put in practice the full force of the Anti-corruption Act of 2008, not spearing any sacred cow – right from the top offices to the least civil servant in government departments. This is the crux of the matter to convince the people.
An attempt to use corruption for vote-catching can be adversely conter-productive; Sierra Leoneans have become too demanding to be appeased with intentional gimmicks. We want to see a good job done on the ground. So as to discourage those politicians on the waiting who dream of their hay day when the opportunity comes by, to perpetuate same acts.
However, the effort of Mr. Ady Macauley, the new ACC boss is a good starting point.
Until the average Sierra Leonean begins to see top ranking officials such as ministers brought to account for corruption, the country will never have faith in the ACC.
As concerned citizens we are never going to be fooled by all these gimmicks. I’m particularly not impressed with scapegoating the lower rank and files in this newly found witch hunt. The government is merely trying to make a point and appear to be doing something about corruption.
Elections are drawing closer and this is just the prelude to the 99 tactics usually deployed by the ruling party. What happened to the EBOLA funds? What happened to all funds given to our government by donor countries?
Where is the investigation regarding the purchase of buses by Logus? These and may other questions needs answering. The people of our country are entitled to know. That is our civic right and if denied then I say corruption is institutionalised.