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
Samura MW Kamara