The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Commissioner, Francis Ben Kaifala has warned that he will not hesitate to go after and arrest any member of the current Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) administration for corrupt practice if he has substantial evidence to warrant an indictment.
He made this statement while responding to questions on whether he will be bold enough to indict members of the current government that are accused or suspected of engaging in corruption or corrupt practices. He said: “I encourage you members of the media to be swift enough in bringing corrupt practices by any member of this current administration to my notice, and help me set a very bright example.”
The Anti-Corruption Commission ACC has started recovering monies from defaulters who had previously been found guilty of corrupt practices.
Head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Mr. Francis Ben Kaifala, disclosed this to the media at a recent press conference held at the Commission at George Street, Freetown.
The rationale behind the media engagement was to update the public on the many strides the Commission is taking in the fight against corruption and its commitment to live up to Mr. Ben Kaifala’s reputation as the people’s commissioner.
Commissioner Kaifala informed the press that the ACC is taking steps to recover and has started recovering monies from defaulters who had previously been found guilty with fines levied. He cited cases like the infamous NASSIT ferry case involving Edmund Koroma, Mahmoud Idris, Gibril Saccoh and Ibrahim Bah, stating that a fresh payment plan has been written which will see all of the defaulters paying different installments from Le50 million upwards within the next couple of months.
In a verdict given under the previous ACC Commissioner, the above-mentioned individuals were to pay Le500 million each but no serious measures were taken to enforce this judgment.
The Commissioner also informed the press of what he referred to as a “systematic reliance on Executive Orders to do manifestly illegal things”, citing a case involving the Petroleum Directorate which saw its former Director, Mr. Raymond Kargbo receive terminal benefits amounting to over Le 1.2 billion whilst still in active service at the Directorate.
“When Mr. Kargbo was brought in, he came brandishing an Executive clearance he received from State House one year ago that allowed him to pay himself terminal benefits whilst still continuing in office as Director. We are going to submit a legal opinion into whether executive clearances can be used in this way and whether their use can absolve somebody who does something that amounts to corruption or corrupt practices,” the Commissioner said.
In what later transitioned to be a naming and shaming of egregious corrupt practices under the previous government, not even the past parliament survived the Commissioner’s wrath. The Commissioner pointed out that the previous Parliament, without proper financial justification, ratified an agreement titled: Transport and Port Management Systems (TPMS) that was supposed to see the people of this country benefit 60% from all proceeds obtained from the Sierra Leone ports, with 40% going to the company running the port so as to reduce by millions of dollars that advantage. The company under this arrangement – had accumulated arrears amounting to over $11 million from 2015 to date.
He further informed journalists that this company, with the assistance of the previous parliament altered the financial clause in the agreement that reduced the quarterly payment due government to a measly $300,000 fixed amount thereby obliterating the millions of dollars due to the people of this country. Worst still, he added that the past parliament “cunningly used this amendment to cover a period already passed prior to the amendment by making the change retroactive.” The ACC boss went on to state that when the owner of the company, Sahr Ngegba, was arrested and detained by the Commission, his defense was: “I did not do it, parliament did it.”
“Parliament is empowered to make laws, but they are not above the laws they make,” Ben Kaifala said and promised to continue investigations into the matter. He warned that “no matter how big a fish we see swimming in the pool of corruption, the ACC will bite.”
Other cases under investigation mentioned by the Commissioner included the alleged misappropriation of funds by the former Youth Minister amounting to Le29 billion allocated to the ministry by the Road Maintenance Fund for a Youth Drainage Project; alleged misappropriation of Le 1.5 billion meant for the Youth Farm project among several other matters involving past government functionaries and private business persons.
In another case involving double-dipping at the Ministry of Agriculture amounting to Le19 million; the Commission has recovered Le17 million so far.
Since he took up office as new ACC Commissioner, cases including ‘State vs. Emmanuel E.C Shears Moses, State vs. Jonathan Michael Jenkins (a Lieutenant Commander in the RSLAF), State vs. Meshell Kamara (Bo) and State vs. Emmanuel Sulaiman Musa Kawa (Kenema) have been filed to court and hearing on these matters will begin on 20th August, 2018.