BY: DAVID YUSUF KABIA
The Latins are of the strong belief that one cannot give what they do not have, hence the quote “Nemo dat quod non habet” meaning, a person who does not own property, especially a thief, cannot confer it on another except with the true owner's authority. The quote’s usage is popular in legal and business transactions where one who sells something that never belongs to them cannot transfer ownership title to one who eventually purchases it from them.
In modern day, its meaning has been expanded to connote that one who lacks the competence, brilliance, know-how or qualification cannot pass on same to anyone requiring it, which many a time has been used to refer to untrained and unqualified persons.
After its birth in 2000, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was no more than a toothless bulldog that could only investigate alleged corruption matters and hands over same to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. The office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice is both a professional and political fusion where the latter was believed to have been the reason behind ACC’s failure after its establishment in 2000. This is because; the ACC had no prosecutorial powers. This means the Commission needed to go through the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to take to court matters investigated by it. Today, that has changed. The Commission can investigate and prosecute persons suspected of committing acts of corruption without recourse to the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Internationally, the Commission was viewed as a tool in the hands of the sitting Government. That too has changed. With the amendments to the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 in 2019, the Commission has placed itself far above what it was viewed as many years ago. In 2017 for example, data generated by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a bilateral United States foreign independent agency established by the United States Congress in 2004, which provides grants to countries that considerably do well in governance and corruption control show that the prevalence of Corruption in Sierra Leone was huge. This led to the country’s failed score of 49%, which saw Sierra Leone unqualified for the MCC grant. In 2018, from a failing score of 49% in 2017, Sierra Leone scored a superb 71%, making it the first in its anti-corruption drive to have reached that threshold. In 2019, the fight went unabated spurred by a robust leadership and a committed staff, the country scored 79%, making it the second time in a row that the country was diligently tackling corruption. One would thought that this was it all. But again in 2020, the country scored an admirable 81% in its anti-corruption war.
The robust strategies bringing out these good scores are the announcers to the globe that Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission, in its fight against corruption, have committed itself to ensuring development is visible in all facets of the country by tackling the very problems that deter the general populace from achieving their growth aims.
In this pursuit of war on corruption, Transparency International (T.I) has as well underscored the commitment of the current Anti-Corruption Commission. Transparency International is a German registered voluntary association founded in 1993 by former employees of the World Bank. Its nonprofit and non-governmental purpose is to take action to combat global corruption with civil societal anti-corruption measures and to prevent criminal activities arising from corruption. On its Global Corruption Survey Index in 2017, Sierra Leone abysmally performed and therefore was ranked 130. In 2019, due to the Commission’s heightened commitment in the fight against corruption, Sierra Leone jumped 10 places on the index and ranked 119. In 2020 it ranked 117 another 3 places movements upwards.
On 30th April, 2021, the Anti-Corruption Commission-Sierra Leone hosted a team from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) led by its Acting Executive Chairman, Counselor Kanio Bai Gbala for a period of five (5) days. The visit was to study the operations of the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission which, it is believed, has become a beacon and a model in the fight against corruption in Africa. The LACC delegation was quick to note that regardless of the effort already made by countries like Botswana and Rwanda, Sierra Leone’s achievements in the fight against corruption is unimaginably worth emulating. In 2019, a similar visit had been made by the Anti-Corruption Agency in Uganda.
The Afrobarometer, a pan-African, independent, non-partisan research network that measures on economic, political, and social matters in , which has its Head Quarters in Accra, Ghana, on its Corruption Survey in 2017 noted gross prevalence of corruption, prompting them to rate the country a disappointing 70% prevalence rate. Shortly after Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. was appointed at the helm of the anti-corruption campaign in 2018, this picture started to change after the Anti-Corruption Commission resorted to fighting this nemesis using every strategy it could possibly lay it hands on. From a 70% prevalence rate in 2017, the Afrobarometer announced Sierra Leone’s exceedingly-applauding commitment to the fight against corruption slicing that abysmal figure to 40%.
The question that begs to be asked is? Where are all these successes coming from? With the current leadership of the ACC, Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala together with his staff has successfully pushed for the amendment of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, thereby giving more strength and powers to the Commission to decisively fight corruption in the country.
The Commissioner’s sound transformative leadership abilities were recently affirmed by the West African Leadership and Empowerment Centre where he was awarded as YOUNG LEADER OF THE YEAR in Lagos, Nigeria.This leadership recognition is the latest amidst many that the young, vibrant, committed and result-packed Commissioner has bagged so far. This adds to other big achievements in the past- such as, the International Anti-Corruption Champion Award from the US Government, his election to the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, his election to serve as Chairman of the Network of Anti-Corruption Agencies in West Africa (NACIWA) and a host of other local and international laurels.
To this end, it can now be confidently said that the once toothless bulldog that was allegedly seen to be aiding corruption is today not only a ‘flesh-ripping’ bulldog but also a tree that bears fruits which is helping others to feed amidst acute hunger in the search for solutions to the problems being posed by corruption across the Continent of Africa. Therefore, as the Latin saying goes, “nemo dat quod non habet”, meaning, ‘one cannot give what they do not have’, the ACC obviously remains a contrary subject to this phrase, hence its contributions in helping other anti-graft fighters succeed by using its model. This is because the Commission can now boast of all the ingredients in the fight against corruption- good leadership, robust legal framework and anti-corruption strategies, and the enthusiasm to take on the corrupt head-on, regardless of social, political or regional affiliation. It is all these ingredients other sister nations have been learning and would continue to learn from the ACC.
The ACC can give them because it has them; for you cannot give what you