Dr. Francis I. Dumbuya
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 May 2013
The Timbergate trial has collapsed. The Anti-Corruption Commissioner has failed to successfully prosecute, despite high hopes and expectations of many in Sierra Leone.
“Seriously? APC gets vindicated…? You’re kidding me?”
This title for an article in any newspaper, describing the verdict in the conspiracy and influence peddling case against Momoh Conteh is at minimum, misleading, and a mischaracterization of the facts of the case.
The facts are that the government, represented by the prosecution woefully failed to argue and present credible evidence that warranted a conviction.
Reading from the transcript of the matter, even a novice in law would see how badly prepared the prosecution and its star witness – Sorious were.
Simply put, the ACC, through the prosecution, has done the nation a disservice by failing to secure a conviction in a case as important as this.
And, a little lesson for the hyperbole created by the headline in the Awareness Times Newspaper: when the prosecution fails, it means the leadership of the ACC fails, and consequently, the government fails the nation as well.
The point here is, when the ACC fails to successfully indict and convict individuals of corrupt behaviors, the citizens of Sierra Leone pay a steep price.
We should all remember it is not enough to indict. The ACC needs competent attorneys to secure convictions. That’s the primary purpose of this commission.
When the leadership of the ACC fails to take measures that yield results, the president’s agenda to root out corruption in Sierra Leone will at best be perceived as an, “all smoke and no fire” policy, and the consequences for such perception by the international community could be devastating for a president who has a strong desire to leave office with a legacy of exceptional delivery for the people of Sierra Leone. (Photo: ACC Chief – Joseph Kamara).
What can President Ernest Koroma do to remedy this situation, and to resurrect his slightly tainted image?
Reconstitute the Anti-Corruption Commission.
This case offers the president and the legislature an opportunity to take a fresh and closer look at the leadership of this Commission. (Photo: ACC Chief handing over cheque to the president).
The nation needs a commissioner who can produce results.
The Commission needs to recruit the best and brightest attorneys in the country.
Cronyism should not play a role in securing competent lawyers for such a high profile and sensitive agency.
Put in more direct terms, the president cannot let the phony disappointment of a commissioner who has failed to do his job deter him.
The truth is rather than to question the integrity of the justice system, we as a nation need to do some serious introspection, and the president needs to ask himself the question:
“Is the nation getting its money’s worth from the highest paid public servant in Sierra Leone?”
Perhaps, it’s time to relieve the commissioner of his duties, demote him, or reduce his salary and hire competent attorneys that would help the government stamp out corruption in the country. (Photo: ACC Chief)
Finally, as Sierra Leoneans, we should all be thankful that this time, we had a judge who rendered a verdict based on the evidence presented in front of him, instead of drawing erroneous conclusions based on public opinion.
In essence, this time, we can truly say that the rule of law prevailed, irrespective of what we think the outcome should have been; and we should all be thankful to the Honorable Justice Abdulai Charm for staying true to the oath of his office and of his profession.
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