By: Alex A. Bah, Public Relations Assistant, ACC
At the just concluded Africa Union Advisory Board on Corruption (AUABC) Symposium, the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq., thrilled heads of various Anti-Graft agencies in the Continent, on Sierra Leone’s path to unimaginable progress. This event took place from the 9th - 14th July, 2023, at the Tanzania International Conference Center in Arusha, Tanzania.
This year’s theme on; "AUCPCC, 20 Years After: Achievements and Prospects", marked the 20th year of the Implementation of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating of Corruption (AUCPCC), that was adopted by the Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union in Maputo, on the 11th July, 2003.
Sharing bits on the incentives for Sierra Leone’s unprecedented successes in a Panel Discussion on the Experiences of the National Anti-Corruption Agencies (NACAs) in the Fight Against Corruption in the last 20 years, Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Chief noted that it was the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act, that repealed and replaced the earlier 2000 Act; which gave the Commission enormous powers.
Commissioner Kaifala articulated the Revolutionary Assets Declaration Regime that he said provided the Commission with the powers to seize, freeze, enforce and impose certain administrative sanctions. “In Sierra Leone if you do not declare assets, the Commission can direct your salary to be withheld and after three (3) months, the Commission can direct your dismissal from public office”, the Commissioner said.
He continued that the fight against Corruption in Sierra Leone has been built on the pillars of Prevention, Public Education and Enforcement which includes Investigation and Prosecution, and the National Anti-Corruption Strategy. He emphasized that the fight against Corruption in Sierra Leone is bed-rocked on prevention and enforcement and disclosed that it was the outcome of a nationwide consultation in 2018, that the country looked at how it was miserably performing in various local and international indexes and assessments, and resolved to create the robust infrastructure needed to strengthen its fight and bolster its efforts, and that has yielded remarkable dividends. This he said made the ACC attain huge leap in every index and assessment both locally and internationally, that include; Afro-Barometer Report that revealed the Corruption Prevalence reducing from a 70% in 2015 to as low as 40% in 2020; Transparency International Corruption Perception Index from a 130 in 2017 to 110 in 2022; Millennium Challenge Corporation Scorecard also showing a significant progress from a failing percent49% in the Control of Corruption to scoring a stellar 83% and maintaining over 70 percent score in five years (2018-2022).
At the end of the event, Public Relations Assistant, Alex A. Bah, presented the country's progress in relation to the implementation of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC) in adherence to the provision in Article 22-to submit a report on progress made. He mirrored the strides of the Commission with respect to Prevention through Systems Review of Sectors, National Anti-Corruption Strategy, Assets Declaration, Public Education and Investigations and Prosecution, in line with the provisions of the AUCPCC.
Mr. Bah also shared panel with Togo, Mauritius and Morocco,and his presentation attracted the admiration from many other countries like South Africa, that was particularly intrigued with the Public Education strides among other things discussed; Public Lecture and Town Hall Meetings led by the Commissioner across universities/colleges and hard to reach Communities, as well as its viable Integrity and Accountability Now Club structures in Schools and Colleges.