Why put politics into Sierra Leone’s transparency and accountability institutions?

Dr Samura Kamara: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 September 2021:

My attention has been drawn to the content of a press briefing by the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Francis Ben Kaifala, held on Wednesday, 1st September 2021, at the Cathedral Hall, Gloucester Street, Freetown.

I have had cause to review the content of the said press briefing on Facebook in which the Commissioner informed the general public that he has concluded the investigation relating to the alleged mismanagement of funds meant for the renovation of the building housing the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, which had been exposed by the Africanist Press, covering the period since the PAOPA SLPP Bio administration came into governance, 2018-2021.

In the reports, the Africanist Press provided incontestable evidential details of the associated non-transparent funds transfers, including the names of persons directly involved and the respective dates and amounts transferred.

The half-hearted attempt by the Commissioner to give an update on the issue has not only left the public further confused, but has also created a fertile ground for conjectures and innuendos to be directed at the characters of hard working retired and in-service sons and daughters of Sierra Leone, whom he has named in his press briefing

It is now very clear, even to a moron in a hurry, that since taking over government in 2018, the PAOPA Bio Government has progressively and politically compromised the legal and operational status and independence of almost all our national public institutions meant to secure and underwrite the expected transparency and accountability in public policy management by any government, irrespective of the Political Party in power.

Without doubt, institutions like the NCRA, NRA, NASSIT, SSL and above all, the ACC, which were all established through the collective efforts of the people of Sierra Leone supported by development partners with a view to improving public financial management and public service delivery after several years of structural inefficiencies.

Today, several of our public institutions are characterised by visible state capture. Unfortunately, our ACC Commissioner demonstrated this when he openly stated in his Press briefing that he was instructed by His Excellency the President to investigate the situation of our Chancery building in NY.

By extension, the Commissioner must have been given an Executive Brief that he is now acting on. This development is against the spirit of Section 9 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, which provides that: “The Commission shall act independently, impartially, fairly and in the public interest and the Commission shall not, in the performance of its functions, be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority”.

Where, therefore, is the mandate of the ACC as an autonomous public institution? One would have expected that the Commissioner would publicly commend and reward the lead provided by the Africanist Press which was widely acclaimed by the people of Sierra Leone.

Reputable and patriotic “Whistle-blowers” are very hard to come by in public policy management and where they emerged, they deserve to be appropriately acknowledged and rewarded.

I am personally committed to and would drive zero corruption at lengths. Sadly, however, the fight against corruption by this government, and by selective justice, has lately morphed into a political tool where its sail is directed by political winds, and not concrete evidence based.

It is worth repeating that the allegations which were first made by the Africanist press with evidence attached were quite specific and pointed, that monies meant for the renovation of the building housing the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission to the UN in New York had been mismanaged during the past three and half years.

It appears that in an attempt to provide cover for certain individuals in the present government, and to further confuse the intelligence of our people and muddy the issue, the ACC has cast a very wide net to draw in officials that worked for the erstwhile APC government.

I will Counsel the Commissioner of the ACC, Francis Ben Kaifala, to refrain from acting in a manner which will make even the dimmest of minds to reach the inescapable conclusion that the ACC has lost its independence and impartiality under his watch, and that his official actions are politically driven.

At this juncture, I am tempted to take my unusual step by making public both my letter of invitation to the ACC to assist their investigation and my written statement thereon which I delivered to them during my interview.

I continue to assure my fellow Sierra Leoneans that I remain committed in the fight against corruption now, like I have done in all my years in serving my country at home and abroad.

I entreat all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans especially those believe in me as a formidable partner in bringing back Sierra Leone to remain steadfast, unperturbed and unshakeable in this our collective pursuit I thank you for your attention
God bless our beloved country, Sierra Leone

About the author

Dr Samura Kamara is the opposition APC party’s 2018 presidential candidate who narrowly lost the election to Julius Maada Bio. Samura is vying for the APC presidential candidacy once again to contest the 2023 election.

5 Comments

  1. Currently, APC party is totally confused they don’t even know or understand where to start folks. I wish and pray that Dr. Samura Kamara come back as the All peoples congress flagbearer comes 2023. That same question that was threw on him during the 2018 presidential debate, still in my memory saying” Who’s to be blamed for the collapsed of the economy?”, he’s respond and answer was, the government. Mr. Kamara, we still have that powerful statement of yours in our minds. APC punished us merely, we will continue to punish the party till we satisfy, you burned down all our efforts without sympathy. President Bio’s victory is no remedy it will happens by the power of the Creator. Bio is constitutionally elected president, he’s on his first term and will continue to complete the next 5 year and I believe that God will guide him.

    People threatening this administration wishing evil for the country to gain vote. When this man was carrying the AK 47, RPG and some malfunctional weapons, if you pull the trigger the magazine well will splashed on your face in war front, living on dry “Gari”. APC rule this country for over 26 year, where is the development? APC was dead after NPRC kicked them out of power in 1992, with a good promised in 2007, but at the end there was a poor message delivery to the nation. Not the one EBK promised “running the country as a business concerns”. Now let me narrate to you some of the secrets agreement between the threes: former president Ernest B. Koroma, Alpha Conde of Guinea, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia to go for third term. But the smart woman of Liberia later interjected and refused to go forward.

    So my fellow honorable readers in this platform, APC gat nothing to tell us about Alpha Conde’s removal from office, so stay quiet. Let me say this today for the last time, Dr. Samura Kamara is the last man to challenge Bio comes 2023 period, you might not like what I’m saying but is the fact. Bio was attacked in Kamalo where S.Kamara was born, he never apologize for their plot, this guy is not a politician. In terms of Yenga town issue it will resolve between the two military men. They will understand each other better.

  2. This statement from Samura Kamara reminds me of a famous music “WHO THE CAP FIT LET THEM WEAR IT” from our Legendary musician late Bob Marley . “ The People’s Commissioner” Francis Ben Kaifala named officials from the past and current administration who has connections with our mission in New York, but unfortunately did not expose the name of the thief that already returned some of the stolen monies. I hope this sore loser ( Samura) is sober before this unhinged utterance.
    The Krio proverb says “Look Wae you Worwor, Baboo buss cry”.

  3. “The shadow of a tree is not known until the tree is cut down”. The law is a rule set to govern the very people who fixed it. This is the same law that gives immunity to the Powerful and levy punishment on the powerless. So why the question pose by the author who have once enjoyed this immunity for years? If justice is to be done fairly, can we say that all those whom the ACC has investigated in the past and still continue investigating would have to ask this similar question?

    How about those who admitted to their faults and have remitted (paid back) the monies into the consolidated fund can we say ACC was unfair with them? Did any body question about putting politics in the ACC role? Of course at the beginning of the investigation, some critics were saying so, but when the outcome became transparent, we all applauded the ACC commissioner and his team. Please sir, Mr. Commissioner continue the good job. Perhaps this might even lead to further investigations of our Ambassadors in a not too distant future.

  4. The issue here is not so much the ACC trying to investigate corruption in Sierra Leone. The ACC under commissioner Ben Kalifah, has become part of the issues of corruption, of the corruption issues aftecting our country. Instead of fighting the problem, the ACC under his stewardship has become the problem rather than the solution And as its stands Sierra Leone is paying a heavy price both economically, and for any long term investment projects .Any government that inherits Bio’s government, will have to make tough decisions. Whether to default on our loans from international creditors, and our country is black listed by credit agencies , which will increase the amount our government spend to service our debts burden, or tackle corruption and waste, so we can put our country to sound economic footing. With the overwhelming evidence, made by the Africanist press accusing some of Bio’s appointmentees of corruption, and failing to take any action against them, despite overwhelming evidence, Ben Kalifah has become the lynch pin or the useful idiot that Boi manipulate like a puppet in the magic roundabout.

    This double standard one rule for them mentally, and an other rule for the rest of us, haven’t gone unnoticed by some of us. The danger, it undermined trust, and exacerbated the unchecked corruption under Bio’s watch. “More generally, corruption erodes the insututional capacity of government, if procedures are disregard, resources are siphoned off, and public officials are bought and sold. Corruption undermines the democratic values of trust and tolerance” Which is exactly the unfortunate situation we found our country today under this one directionless government of Bio. The Anti Corruption Act, that gave powers to the ACC stipulated clearly, that they should be independent of any government. There actions should be led by the evidence in front of them not the evidence they want to be infront of them .

    And they should follow the evidence where ever it takes them. Once an allegations is made, it is for the individual accused to proof their innocence, by providing the ACC the necessary documentation, to explain their wealth, especially fromer and Present government ministers, that not long ago just like the majority of Sierra Leoneans, can’t afford three square meals a day, but today are behaving like HIP HOP stars that live in big mansions with their trophy wife, and host of revoling door of girls friends. Of course not forgeting the big expensive SUVs that can feed a whole village, or construct a new road network with in the city of Freetown. If Ben Kalifah is serious about his mission in fighting corruption, he should not only be independent, but has to be seen to be independent by the general public. So far majority of Sierra Leoneans believes the ACC is not doing what they are supposed to do. They are paid out of the public purse not from Bio’s deep pockets. The issues we have in Sierra Leone, the vast majority of public officials are toiling with the idea, its Bio that is personally paying their wages from his bank account.So they owe him one. And Bio have done very little to dispel such unfunded rumours. Because his government stands to benefit, as long as the public officials continue to tow his reckless government behaviour.

  5. I thought that the matter was brought to our knowledge by the suit filed against the government of Sierra Leone and the contractor in a New York court by group of neighbours to our embassy in New York.

    Note withstanding what Doctor Samura is alleging above, I was surprised to learn in the press conference that the president went to New York in 2019 and that he visited our staff in the embassy of Uganda, and yet did not ask about our mission house nor try to find out what had happened to the monies expended by the former government and his government. He asked the ACC to investigate after the country has been sued in a New York court. It shows that he is lackadaisical in his duty as fountain of Honour.

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