By: Alex A. Bah
In its continued drive to make the fight against corruption a people’s driven fight, and promoting the highest form of transparency and accountability, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has met with the membership of the People’s Power Movement (PPM) on the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone.
PPM is an alliance of citizens and organizations that use people’s power approaches to promote human rights, strengthen good governance and support the fight against corruption at all levels.
This engagement, which took place at the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) Conference Hall, Brookfields, Freetown, on Wednesday 19th January, 2022, had other civil society organizations (CSOs) in attendance.
Establishing the purpose of the engagement, Hajie Bah, National Public Relations Officer of PPM and who also doubles as National Coordinator for the Network Movement for Youth and Children’s Activities, said that the meeting was meant to have the Commission provide clarification on issues around its operations and contemporary activities in its fight, that are of national concern. This, he said, they have been discussing on their various social media forums, with unending altercations. To this end, he said, they proffer for such a platform, to interact with the Commission, ask questions and understand the work and operations of the Commission.
Responding to the request, Coordinator of Operations of the ACC, Emmanuel Koivaya Amara Esq., started off by explaining the reasons that led to the formation of the Commission, and the mandate upon which it operates. He explained the functions and activities of the various departments of the Commission.
Mr Amara further explained the Commission’s interventions into successive Auditor General’s reports, adding that the Commission exhaustively dealt with the 2019 Report, making particular references to the number of recoveries, prosecutions and convictions.
“As I speak to you, the whole Investigation Department are actively looking at the Auditor General’s Report of 2020 which came out in 2021,” adding that out of the 1020 issues in the Report that warrant the attention of the ACC, the Commission has meticulously and expeditiously identified and categorized the issues into investigation, systems and processes review and recovery.
Members of the PPM and representatives of the various CSOs asked a number of questions and made brilliant contributions related to the fight against corruption in the country. Prominent among the suggestions is for the ACC to help recruit and train CSOs so they can better support the fight against corruption; and asked for the naming of individuals that were arrested and detained in regard the Audit Report of 2020.
Mr. Amara responded accordingly to all the questions. In the area of the naming of individuals detained, he admonished them from the standpoint of the law and his considerable experience as a prosecutor, that arresting and detaining an individual on allegations does not presume guilt. He said the investigation is to prove or disprove and there is no such provision to publish names in such circumstances.
Assistant Public Relations Officer of the ACC Sylvanus Blake provided statistics and data on the cases investigated and prosecuted by the Commission, adding that the Commission succeeded in securing over 95% conviction rate for its cases charged to court since 2018.