By: Sylvanus Blake, PRO-ACC
The leadership of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Sierra Leone (ACC-SL) has, on Tuesday 24th October 2023, played host to a delegation from the Carter Center, Atlanta, United States of America, comprising, Erica Phillips, the Program Assistant on Rule of Law and Mohamed O. Jalloh. The Carter Center is a United States based nongovernmental organization, founded by former United States President Jimmy Carter that seeks generally to promote the rule of law, democracy, human rights and good governance, and has worked in over 80 countries including Sierra Leone, where it is currently supporting three human and women’s rights related projects. The meeting was held in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, ACC.
Speaking on behalf of the Carter Center, Madam Phillips said the engagement is aimed at understanding how the ACC works, and how to explore possible areas of mutual interests in public accountability, transparency and civic engagement for partnership. Madam Philips who is in Sierra Leone on a week-long assessment of the projects the Center is supporting, stated that the Carter Centre had identified the ACC, as an institution to hold discussions with, considering the positive strides made in the fight against corruption in the country.
In his statement, the Deputy Commissioner ACC, Augustine Foday Ngobie dilated on the overview and work of the Commission, appreciating the move by the Carter Centre to identify and work with the ACC in areas that are critical to the overall mandate, mission and vision of the Commission. Mr. Ngobie explained that the ACC as an independent institution to lead the national fight against corruption was established as a result of the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
He highlighted the powers of the Commission, the various Departments and their functions, adding that the Commission has in the past five years enjoyed huge Presidential Will and Commitment in the fight against corruption accounting for its stellar performance in National, Regional and Global corruption perception surveys, indexes and rankings.
He stated that the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NaCS), a five year document is the roadmap developed periodically by indigenous Team of Experts drawn from seasoned media, private and public sector professionals. Mr. Ngobie furthered that the ACC has and will continue to maintain strategic partnerships with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the media, and key governance institutions like the Audit Service, Human Rights Commission, Sierra Leone, National Public Procurement Authority etc, which he underscored was crucial to winning the war against corruption. The ACC Deputy Boss stated that the ACC was open to partnering with any well-meaning institution and organization that was determined to promoting and advancing the war against corruption in Sierra Leone. ‘’Our doors are always open to you Carter Centre and all others who will want to join us. The war against corruption in Sierra Leone is a recalibrated one. We are scaling new heights and scoring new goals. We wish to continue. We continue to expand the anti-graft net through strategic partnerships and supports. The data on what we are doing in Sierra Leone, how we are doing it, the results gained are available for your edification. Our fight is not against anyone but for the State. Mr. Ngobie averred.
The Director, Public Education and External Outreach Department, ACC, Patrick Sandi stated that the ACC runs a real time media organ, public and community sensitization campaigns, aimed at keeping the public promptly and adequately informed of the work of the Commission, the effects/dangers of corruption, the need for collective actions against corruption and how to report instances of suspected corruption. He further said, in addition to the traditional sensitization approaches of customized outreach meetings, radio and TV shows, jingles and others, the ACC has thoroughly engaged on the new media, making extensive and meaningful use of the social media to catch up with especially the youthful population and get them interested in the fight.
Emmanuel Koivaya Amara Esq, Coordinator of Operations, ACC stated that the Anti-Corruption legal regime is one of the finest and strongest on the continent of Africa. He stated that the amendment of Section 89 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 in 2019, which now gives the Commissioner an option to choose non conviction based recovery route, which includes a full and complete recovery of all amounts deemed to have been misappropriated with a minimum of 10% interest charged and such persons holding themselves from public office for at least three years, has given the ACC the power to go after the wealth of the corrupt. In this regard alone, the Commission has caused the recovery and refund to the State of over Le: 45 Billion (Old Leones) since 2018. He stated that the rate of turnover of corruption cases in Special Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court has more than double, since the creation of the Special Division within the High Court with over 90% conviction rate.
The ACC is leading the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone in a fair but fierce manner, Mr. Amara concluded.