The ACC Boss goes for the jugular...
The head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Francis Ben Kaifala, spoke to members of the media yesterday, 2nd August 2018, in a press conference hosted by the the Commission's at its conference room. The rationale behind the media engagement was to update the public through the media on the many strides the Commission is taking, and to bring them along in the fight against corruption- a reassuring commitment to live up to his reputation as the People's Commissioner.
The Commissioner informed the press that ACC has taken steps to recover, and has started recovering, to monies from defaulters who had previously been found guilty with fines levied: In the the famous NASSIT ferry case- involving Edmond Koroma, Mahmoud Idris, Gibril Saccoh & Ibrahim Bah- a fresh payment plan has been agreed which will see them pay in different installments the sum of Le 50 million within the next couple of months. In a verdict given under the previous Commisioner, these individuals were to pay Le 500 million each; but no serious measure were taken to enforce this judgment. After the Commissioner ordered putting everyone on bail in that file, Bah has recently paid into the consolidated fund the sum of Le 50 million as first installment; with subsequent payments to be made. Each of them have been released on bail.
To the utter dismay of the members present, the Commissioner also informed the gathering of what he referred to as "a systematic reliance on Executive Orders to do manifestly illegal things", citing a case surrounding 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 1 year ago that allowed him to pay himself terminal benefits whilst still continuing in office as Director...We are going to Commission 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- 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 Millionsnof dollars that advantage. The company- under this arrangement- had accumulated arrears amounting to over $ 11 million- from 2015 to now. 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 Milions of dollars due to the people of this country. Worst still, the past parliament cunningly used this amendment to cover a period already passed prior to the amendment by making the change retroactive. When the owner of the company, Sahr Ngegba, was arrested and detained by the Commission, his defense was that: "I did not do it, parliament did it." The Commissioner made the following remarks: "Parliament is empowered to make laws, but they are not above the laws the make"; promising to continue investigations into the matter. Under the amended agreement with parliament, the suspect currently owes the government/people of this country $ 1.3 million while investigations continue.
Before his release on bail after spending days in incarceration, plans were at the finishing stages to see him $ 500,000 into the consolidated fund by today, and an installment payment of $ 100,000 each within the next eight (8) months.
Other cases mentioned by the Commissioner were the alleged misappropriated funds by the former Youth Ministry amounting to Le 29 billion- allocated to the ministry by the Road Maintenance Fund for the Youth Drainage Project; alleged misappropriation of Le 1.5 billion meant for the Youth farm project. The former minister, permanent secretary among others were detained by the Commission. The minister has been released on bail after meeting bail demands set at Le 1 billion.
In another case involving double dipping at the Ministry of Agriculture amounting to Le 19 million; the commission has recovered Le 17 million so far.
The following cases have been filed to court since the current Commissioner took over:
1. The State VS Emmanuel E.C Shears Moses
2. The State VS Jonathan Michael Jenkins (a lieutenant commander in the RSLAF)
3. The State VS Meshell Kamara (Bo)
4. The State VS Emmanuel Sulaiman Musa Kawa (Kenema)
Hearing on these matters will begin on the 20th August, 2018.
Responding to questions on whether the Commissioner will be bold enough to indict members of this current government, the Commissioner responded by saying: "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."
©Anti-Corruption Commission Public Relations Unit