Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 October 2020:
Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Elite Scorpion Squad today arrested three officials of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Agency’s (EDSA) billing section at Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown.
According to the ACC statement, they are believed to have facilitated the embezzlement of over One Billion Leones of public revenue over a period of just six months, believed to have been paid by large companies and enterprises for electricity consumption.
The corrupt scheme the ACC said, was carried out by the officials who, having sent bills to various customers, would then collect the payments themselves and work with bank staff to facilitate the diversion and deposit of the cheques into personal accounts.
It is yet unclear how the EDSA financial accounting systems failed to detect this loophole, considering the sum of money involved; but this will also be further investigated the ACC said.
The Elite Scorpion Squad of the ACC arrested and took the three officials to the ACC head office where they are currently assisting with investigations in what is believed to be a racket that has enriched lower and top management staff of the EDSA at the expense of the institution. More arrests will be made in the coming days, the ACC said.
In another development, ACC’s Deputy Director of Public Education and Outreach – Patrick Sandy last Thursday, told reporters in Freetown that the ACC will investigate former President Ernest Bai Koroma and all persons of interest named in the Commissions of Inquiry reports, and will not compromise.
He said that if Sierra Leone passes the Transparency International Scorecard, it stands to win $400 million from the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) for economic and social development programs.
Speaking at the weekly press conference organized by the Ministry of Information and Communications, Sandy said that Cluster 4 of the government’s National Development Plan mentions corruption and illegal financial flows as threats to the country that must be eliminated by the ACC.
The ACC, Sandy told reporters signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Financial Intelligence Unit and other institutions to help combat corruption, on 8th April 2019.
He also reminded reporters of the improvements he said the government has achieved in fighting corruption, which are reflected in the Transparency International Index, the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) control of corruption scorecard, and other corruption perception surveys conducted by the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) and the Institute of Governance Reform.
Sandy also said that the ACC has prioritized its Assets Declaration work and increased penalties for public officials who violate the law. The government he said has established a Special Court with five dedicated judges; recovered Le22 billion from corrupt officials, 2 vehicles, a two-storey building in Koidu City, Kono District; and is planning on its next step to interview Ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma and other persons of interest named in the Commissions of Inquiry reports.
Unless heads roll, theft, graft, plunder of state property and daylight looting – all put together (in a nutshell” with the tag “CORRUPTION” is bound to triumph in this nation forevermore. Lonta.
The unprecedented move that was made by the Minister of Energy Alhaji Kanja Sesay by signing a MOU with our young and energetic ACC Commissioner is now yielding fruits. Corruption in the electricity sector is a systemic problem based on the fact that some of our citizens including big businesses hate to pay basic light bills that our government relies on in order to make electricity sustainable and reliable.
Making the ACC commissioner the major culprit in this affair is just INSANE. I hope and pray that the ACC will continue to make our nation the most credible in fighting corruption in our region and hopefully we will qualify for the $400 million from the USA MCC funding which will definitely transform the lives of our citizens.
With each nation’s portion of its citizens generally tend to suffer from memory loss as time progresses in political circles, politicians all across the globe have always managed to weaponize this flaw of human nature—FOOLING gullible citizens over and over again into believing in something that in actually only designed to captivate emotions, rather than practical beneficial results. Our nation’s politics is dominated by 2 major political parties, with each of these 2 parties taking equal time slots to govern our nation over the past 2 decades. Since independence, corruption, the road block to achieve our aspiring economic development, has and have always been rife each time one these parties take over governance.
As a millennial, I have observed both parties in governance with SLPP under the leadership of late president Kabbah, with APC, EBK being at the helm. The fact remains both leaders made ideological strides to stamp out corruption, however, the stealing and looting remains unabated under their watch. In president Kabbah’s first tenure, he enacted the ACC, while EBK strengthening the ACC act, supposedly making it independent. Despite president Kabbah efforts, corruption became so infested during his second term, he literally gave up fighting with SLPP officials having a field day looting our meager resources.
Likewise EBK, he started doing extremely well just as what many gullible citizens think Bio is doing now. Under Abdul Tejan Cole’s tenure as ACC czar, a host of high ranking APC officials were charged to court and persecuted, albeit the disappointing punishments. Towards the middle of his second term, corruption was open for all, with APC officials competing each other in stealing our nation’s funds. Today, with Bio at the helm, we have heard the rhetoric and no nonsense stance towards corruption. Here in Freetown, almost anyone can name a few government officials whom they believe are highly corrupt due to their overnight wealth accumulation, yet the ACC’s only interest is catching flies and opposition figures.
It’s very sad to see the embattled ACC leader fighting for his survival and his name, after that disastrous and catastrophic failure interview miscalculation, with the APC Leader. Now, it’s race against time, to put the reputation of the ACC back on track. No way sir. It’s too late. You can see the disappointment in his face. Does that mean, “things fall apart”? From one corruption investigation to another. One scandal to another. Boring!
Since the ACC leader started his selective justice assignment, everything concerning corruption turned in the reverse direction with no solutions. Frankly speaking, the ACC is losing its fight against corruption under the present ACC leadership. What a shame. How many government officials are going to be arrested, detained or imprisoned because of the slow pace of the ACC to act. A smart ACC department should be able to disrupt these incidents before they hatch. This ACC leader, promised on radio, during an interview with the wise and skilful Triple A, to disrupt corruption before it even starts. It was all bluff talk.
You don’t administer a department like the ACC, where corruption is rocket for you and easy as drinking a mug of “Palm Wine” for me. If the people get that message, then corruption will hunt you. Did they hear that? I hope they do, talking to myself. The best way out for this ACC leader is to resign to save his name and the ACC. God guide and protect the victims of selective justice.
Olu Davies, thank you for highlighting some more of the cases of corruption which were swept under the carpet during the Koroma years; I have been mentioning some of them too, including those of Afsatu Kabba and Kemoh Seasay. The ill-fated appointments of the Irish man, Fitzgerald Kamara and Ady Macauley at different times to head ACC were merely meant to serve the sudden fancies of Earnest Koroma, a man that I supported in the beginning because I deluded myself into thinking that he was our saviour, and that by the time he was through with corrupt officials they would wish that they were not born.
The current ACC are not perfect, they have many embarrassing questions to answer, but compared to what we had under Earnest they fall just short of a hurricane that’s shaking up every where. Even the chief minister knows that he is in constant suspicion. Herein lies the point that I have been trying to drive home and which some people have not understood or refuse to understand: President Bio and ACC are now after the former APC regime. The thought that APC would one day be in leadership again and do the same thing to them should keep them straight for the benefit of the country. I am not so sure where the chief minister shall be, given his record. There’s no doubt that only his position is currently shielding him from the clutches of ACC and President Bio knows it too. APC cannot wait to get hold of him. By being ruthless with Earnest and others President Bio is brining a new progressive dawn to our country.
Indeed if you have no idea how to build sustainable structures that will stand the test of time, then anything will suffice – the puppet ACC is overcrowded with nothing but the most shady, questionable individuals destroying the lives of people through their amateurism and flimsy, reckless superficial methods. ‘Great Sayedna’ once said on the glorious forum, “if you don’t believe in something, you will fall for anything and Stargazer you must be mindful or you will easily be swept away by any strange wave that comes and goes.”
Again, credible sources have now told me in the clearest of terms that almost all of these individuals in the ACC currently arresting people are not as righteous as they claim to be, but every one of them in times past have been known to show violent shadowy and criminal tendencies that have now been discreetly swept under the rug of tribalism and favoritism – the real interests of the State, I was informed was deliberately brushed aside by this inept President in order to promote
his cruel vindictive, malicious agenda. Again, here we go – drip drip drip, drops and drops of their incompetence can be seen all over the place. Who is going to mop up this mess they are now spilling everywhere?(lol)
A hand-picked arrest here and there is not going to get us anywhere in a fight against corruption. Let me now reiterate once again: the first step that will catapult the ACC to unimaginable heights of enviable credibility is this – Let Mr President and all his Ministers and appointed public and party officials be patriotic enough in the interest of genuine progress to release all their financial holdings, assets, debts and obligations in a credible and transparent manner for the general public to see and examine, and it is only then that we will be totally convinced that this government means business. But this is not the case – a Thief arresting a thief to give the loot to another thief is the game they are fixated on playing – these swindlers are literally robbing someone who worked day and night in “Earnest” to give to “Madda” the wicked old soldier without a mission.(lol)
During the Ernest Koroma Regime everything was in sixes and sevens, systems were not put in place. Corrupt practices were rife among government officials and political office holders, the ex president couldn’t check his men as everybody had a field day pilfering state house. Ernest Koroma was a willing ATM machine that his cronies used to siphon money from government coffers to their own pockets. How much money did both JFK AND ADY MACAULAY recovered during their tenure in the ACC. WANZA case went into the drain; ditto the procurement of the ferry by NACSA… all these cases were swept under the carpet.
The coming of Ben Kelfala to the captainship of the ACC has indeed brought a new lease of life. Within two years, 21 billions Leones were recovered from corrupt government officials and some are still paying, vehicles, houses, hotels were seized when owners couldn’t claim ownership of them. Maada Bio led government has indeed set an example that corruption will not be condoned at all levels of government.
This government is not only going hard on corruption but also on all ills of our society. During the previous regime, decency and decorum were indeed thrown to the wind as our educational system was bedevilled with examination malpractices at all strata. The ACC through their sting operations has indeed busted some examination malpractice centres such as the ABERDEEN and DEEP EYE WATER centers where students were caught writing exams that had already taken place three weeks back.
Nearly every day we hear or read about another corruption case. It means the criminals are determined not to be defeated come what may. The attitude seems to be catch me if you can. It is time to revisit the powers of ACC to ascertain their efficacy, since it’s quite baffling to note that even with a former president (Ernest Koroma) and nearly all his former ministers being in prison on charges of corruption, is not enough to deter people from acts of corruption. More extreme measures are weeping for attention here.
Even with all their shortcomings (and there are many of them) ACC and COI have already transformed our dear nation in terms of official corruption. Ernest Koroma’s foray into fighting corruption can only be described as half-hearted, blurred and nebulous, otherwise the unconscionable level of corruption revealed by COI would have been the distorted imagination of the nation. Ernest Koroma’s first head of ACC, Tejan Cole, must have sniffed something promptly that his boss (Ernest) was not fully committed to fight corruption and so he tendered his resignation. Subsequent events have borne him out.
Under Ernest, for example, the powers that be turn the nation’s bank to a “piggy bank” said one of the jurists in the COI. Ben Kaifala and his ACC have got a very long way to go, to break the back of corruption. It is a disease which nearly took over the entire body of our country. Drastic and unrelenting surgery is needed, followed by years of therapy, so that succeeding generations will become immune to the disease of corruption.
It is good to see the ACC that was until recently acting like chameleon in going after corrupt public officials, has now flipped over and turned to scorpions. When you adopt a name, you have to act like one. This time the Sierra Leonean public expect the ACC to sting these corrupt, greedy, undeserving public officials, that have intently and singlehandedly undermined the development of our country, and by extension brought untold hardship on millions of their fellow Sierra-Leoneans. T
he best way to fight corruption is to ditch the right to immunity, and adopt transparency and accountability policies, a free and vibrant press that can name and shame these corrupt individuals without any legal repercussions. The ACC needs the PRESS AND THE PEOPLE to be on their side. A strong auditing system for public bodies, access to freedom of information when demanded by the public, and above all else public participation in the political dispensation in the country. The ACC has to be seen to be acting on the side of the people.
Right now the perception is not as clear cut as Ben Kailfala would like us to believe. At the moment the ACC is suffering from the crisis of legitimacy. Too many are seen as Bio’s stooges and it should and never should have been. Informing the public and most importantly parading these public officials guilty of stealing from the state on the red carpet of public shame will go a long way to help restore public confidence and marshall their help to fight this scourge in our society. May God bless Sierra Leone
Bravo to ACC Boss and the entire staff. Good job – Sierra Leone will look like America one day. God bless you for the good job done.
If I could vividly and vigorously remember from the previous years, it has been a great difference in the fighting against CORRUPTION Or EMBEZZLEMENT, since His excellency Bio took over power. More accolades to the ACC for their endless work or effort in the fight against THIS WORLDLY SET BACK.