ACC CZAR DELIVERS PUBLIC LECTURE ON FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

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Francis Ben Kaifala Esq, the Commissioner for the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has lectured on the rule of law and the fight against corruption: delineating the jurisprudential province of corruption clean-up campaign as the centrepiece for ensuring justice and good governance.

 The Public Lecture commences at Njala University, Bo Campus, Bo, Sierra Leone, on 14th May, 2022.

1.All protocols observed, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

2.Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, “We live in a society with institutions that exist and ensure their legitimacy by providing the basic needs for the people to live a happy life. Nothing harms this objective more than the absence of accountability which ultimately leads to the moral evils of corruption in the organs of these institutions.” Those are the words of Rev. Father Augustine Bangalie, Spiritan Provincial Superior in his foreword to the book ‘THE HURRICANE: The story of Corruption and Accountability in Sierra Leone’ written by our dear Rev. Fr Luseni who is here with us here today to witness this lecture.

3.Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, the topic for this Public Lecture, “The Rule of Law Vs The Fight Against Corruption: Delineating The Jurisprudential Province of Corruption Clean-Up Campaign As The Centerpiece For Ensuring Justice And Good Governance’  is apt for this stage of Sierra Leone’s Socio-political development.

4.The purpose of Law in Society is to establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes, and protect liberties and rights so as to keep society peaceful. Law regulates conducts, avoids or settles disputes, sets out rights and obligations, provides remedies, maintains order & provides protection, sets up the structure of government and directs how to make laws. Without law, as Thomas Hobbes had pointed out, the life man would be continual fear of danger of violent death; and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. As HLA Harte rightly observed, in his seminal work “The Concept of Law”, It is the existence of laws and sanctions for noncompliance that primarily ensure that people live with each other in an orderly communion.

5.However, laws are not always enough. There are times when policies, cultures, traditions, customs, conventions, and usages also play their role in creating a peaceful and serene society. Sierra Leone from pre-colonial era, through colonial era on to the modern day exists on two forms of laws, rooted in hard paternalism and libertarian paternalism – British based Common Law and Customary Law – some of which are contained in statutes.

6.If we choose to apply “stone age” thinking and laws to modern times’ WICKED PROBLEMS like Corruption, there is the likelihood that they will not be relevant to those issues or they are not robust enough to cover what those issues require to solve them. In light of the above, we have to ask ourselves the question whether the spheres of our laws are wide enough to cover the contemporary issues that our society is faced with? Are we prepared to challenge ourselves to expand those laws to uncover previously uncharted territories?

7.This is a problem because; while a lot has been said and done in respect of the Rule of Law, we have not been able to carefully probe into the “role of law” in our society. Focusing on achieving the “Rule of Law”, in the sense as propounded by Professor A.V Dicey, without defining the “Role of Law”, is an elusive venture and may probably remain unachievable. The role of the law is to ensure that no sphere of human relations is left unregulated lest the law will fail to serve its purpose and society likely to degenerate into chaos as each man tries to apply ad  hoc rules to fill the void. It is only with this role in place that the law can be truly said to rule. Without the role of law being defined, the law would fail to provide the answers that society needs; and this is already happening. To change this, we all have to be prepared to shift the parameters of our laws into newer areas and disciplines so as to make them catch up with the changing times that befit the 21st century.

THE RULE OF LAW

8.Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, the American Bar Association defines the rule of law as a set of principles, or ideals, for ensuring an orderly and just society; where no one is above the law, everyone is treated equally under the law, everyone is held accountable to the same laws, there are clear and fair processes for enforcing laws, there is an independent judiciary, and human rights are guaranteed for all.” This description is similar to those given by ancient political philosophers like Plato, Socrates, John Locke, among others.

9.In defining whether political leaders and kings should also be subjected to the dictates of the rule of law, Bracton, a British writer and proponent of the doctrine holds that the political powers and leaders are a creation of the law and must therefore be subject to the law. Some political commentators have however often seen the doctrine as elusive. 

10.To give it meaning, British Jurist A.V. Dicey, gives three distinct characteristics of the rule of law:

11.Supremacy of the Law- This means that the law of the land should be supreme. It also means that citizens should not be subjected to the arbitrary power of the government or be punished for anything except in accordance with the law.

12.Equality before the Law- This means that, irrespective of social, political or economic status, every citizen of the state is subject to the laws of the land.

13.The third distinct characteristic of the rule of law is that ‘The Activities of Government must be conducted within the Framework of the Law.

THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

14.On the other hand, Corruption is the abuse of entrusted position or office for private gains. According to the World Bank, it is “a form of dishonesty or criminal offence undertaken by a person or organisation entrusted with a position of authority.”

15.Transparency International describes corruption as “public servants demanding or taking money or favours in exchange for services; politicians [and people in position of trust] misusing public money or granting public jobs or contracts to their sponsors, friends and families; and corporations bribing officials to get lucrative deals.”

16.As I have stated in another public lecture before, the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019 does not provide a definition of the term ‘Corruption’. However, the Act outlines a list of offences and practices which constitute an act of corruption. They include; Bribery, Misappropriation of Public/ Donor Funds/Property, Corrupt Acquisition of Wealth, Unexplained Wealth, Bid Rigging, Impersonation, Failure to declare assets, among many others.

IMPORTANCE OF FIGHTING CORRUPTION

17.Kristalina Georgieva of the World Bank once remarked that: “A lack of transparency fuels corruption, a corrosive force that hits the poor and the vulnerable the hardest.  Its effects are very real. Corruption stops medicine and drugs from reaching the sick, stops schools from being built, leads to roads washing away in the rain, and empties the public coffers. In the most fragile corners of the world, corruption undermines work to bring stability… and breaks the trust between the citizens and the state that is critical for development to work.”

18.In Sierra Leone, we know that corruption was one of the major factors singled out by the Truth and Reconciliation Report for the decade-long civil war in this country during the 1990s that accounted for the loss of the lives of tens of thousands of Sierra Leoneans and the near collapse of social amenities and law and order.

19.According to the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in the US Department of State, putting a check on corruption “boosts [economic] stability, the rule of law, human rights, and democracy.”

UPHOLDING THE RULE OF LAW VERSUS THE ANTI-CORRUPTION CLEAN-UP CAMPAIGN; WHERE DO WE STAND IN ENSURING JUSTICE AND GOOD GOVERNANCE?

20.As a Commission and as a people who, more than ever before, are committed to the eradication of corruption, we could agree that we cannot afford to tilt the scale of the rule of law and the fight against corruption in such a way that we undermine the functionality and success of one over the other. If we must succeed and develop as a nation, then we must uphold the anti-corruption campaign and the rule of law on an equal pedestal.

21.When you consider the effect of corruption on our socio-economic and political development and how corruption undermines justice, the rule of law and good governance, you will agree with me that the anti-corruption campaign is as significant as the rule of law. Koffi Annan, former UN Secretary General of blessed memory, once stated in the forward of the United Nations Convention against Corruption that “Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.” Ladies and gentlemen, to my mind, there is nothing as systemically destructive than corruption.

22.Corruption is one major reason why most African countries, including Sierra Leone, are still poor and undeveloped today in spite of having plenty. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermines government’s ability to provide basic services, feeds inequality and injustice and discourages foreign aid and investment. Corruption is a major factor in economic underperformance and a fundamental obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.

23.Ladies and gentlemen, our country Sierra Leone just turned 61 and because of corruption we still struggle for some of the basic necessities of life in spite of the fact that nature has blessed us with plenty of resources. The chronicles of our history as a nation are engrossed with the bedeviling and gloomy realities of the menacing effects of corruption.

24.Yes, I agree with human rights activists that the rule of law must be upheld. Yes, I agree that the presumption of innocence is a cardinal principle of our criminal justice system. But corruption itself is also a human rights issue because when it occurs, for example, public funds or property that are meant for the benefit of the majority of people will be diverted to the use and benefit of an individual or a selected few, resulting in the lack of or inadequacy of access to some of the basic amenities of life. In fact, the rule of law itself will never thrive or succeed in a nation that condones corruption and celebrates the corrupt. Therefore, in as much as we have an obligation to uphold the rule of law as a means of ensuring justice and good governance, if we must indeed ensure justice and good governance then we must confront corruption with the right mindset, posture and determination and be prepared to go very hard on the corrupt. We must not keep our hands overly constrained by the law while confronting a vile and loose enemy who continues to destroy our nationhood. We must emphasis the COLLECTIVE GOAL more than even the individual right or liberty within the framework of the Rule of Law

25.Ladies and gentlemen, we are at a stage in our anti-corruption campaign where, more than ever before, we need to be smarter, poised and radical in our collective approach in order to win the fight against the corrupt. Many a time people who engage in corruption have the necessary means to evade the criminal justice system, either by way of interference with witnesses, destroying evidence or using the media to sway public opinion in their favour, using socio-political influence or sometimes as condescending as using corruption to escape the punishment for corruption. Therefore, as anti-corruption campaigners we must find ways and means of outsmarting the corrupt at their game using the very Rule of Law. This does not mean that we should not uphold the rule of law, of course we cannot circumvent respecting the rule of law because it is a cardinal principle of our legal and democratic process. Rather, what it means is that we must be contextual and pragmatic in our anti-corruption strides. There must therefore be a robust and proactive legal and institutional framework that should create the enabling environment for mounting a successful anti-corruption campaign, uphold the rule of law and ensure justice for all.  

26.The fight against corruption in any context requires strategy; and a full-spectrum anti-corruption strategy should not only focus on laws and institutions alone. A key aspect of that strategy is prevention, which is also one reason why I stand before you today to get all of us to really understand that the fight against corruption is a collective fight that we must take as seriously as the need for upholding the rule of law.

27.We at the ACC are mindful of the saying in judicial corridors as earlier noted by Roscoe Pound in his article titled “The Theory of Judicial Decision”: that cases are not merely decided on the facts, but on the basis of judicially developed principles. To better understand this position, one only needs to be reminded of the statement a Nigerian Judge, Justice Awokulenhin made in delivering his judgment in the case of Agbor Ele Vs The State (2006) that: “the court of law arrives at its findings and decisions based on the evidence placed before it by the contending parties… that it must of necessity be emphasized that law should only be applied to the facts of a case. It is not for the court to manufacture such facts or move from law backwards to facts on the pretense of justice”*. The rule of law is at the mercy of the judiciary and that makes it unreliable. Judges are strategic actors and not always rational decision-makers. They are therefore more of a problem than a solution. A case that has a party that a judge or the system sympathizes with for whatever reason is doomed.

28.A crucial part of anti-corruption campaign is the necessity for an uncompromising judiciary that will not only interpret and apply anti-corruption laws but also ensure fair and expeditious trials of persons who have been accused of corruption, which is also in sync with adhering to the principles of the rule of law. The Judiciary is therefore a key player in the actualization of a robust anticorruption regime as well as upholding the rule of law. While, since 2019, the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court with specially assigned judges was established with a view to ensure speedy trials of anti-corruption matters and guarantee fairness in the trials of persons who are indicted for corruption offences, we are yet to fully yield the dividends of this bold move as old ways threaten to creep back into the fabric of judicialization.

29.As we continue to accelerate the fight against corruption through our collective efforts, Sierra Leone continues to make unprecedented gains in the fight against corruption. From 2018 to date the Afrobarometer confirms the reduction of corruption prevalence in *Sierra Leone from 70% to 40%, and in these four years our Millennium Challenge Corporation Score has jumped from a failing 49% to an excellent 83% while we have also moved 15 places upwards in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. The reality of this trajectory is that as we continue to expand the frontiers of our anti-corruption campaign with unmatched determination and positive results, we also continue to witness a restoration of public trust in the work of the Commission to such an extent that the Anti-Corruption Commission is now viewed by many as the entity that should handle each and every public interest complaint, and sometimes even complaints that are unrelated to our mandate.

To be continue on our next edition.

Deputy Amb. in Belgium, Diasporans celebrate Salone day

The Deputy Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and Mission to the European Union, also accredited to the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Harold Bundu Saffa, joined his compatriot Diasporas in Eindhoven over the weekend to celebrate Sierra Leone and used the moment to call on Diaspora Sierra Leoneans in the European Union to be bridge-heads in attracting foreign direct investments to their country.

He was guest speaker at a network event organized by Sierra Leoneans and their Dutch counterparts interested in the development of Sierra Leone.

Mr. Saffa called on the Diasporas not to seek comfort as bystanders, but to be active participants in the development aspirations of their country. He said the Embassy is playing the mediating role between Diasporas and their government to facilitate any such process.

The Deputy Ambassador furthered that whilst the Government of Sierra Leone encourages investment opportunities in the country, he stressed the importance of “the special pride” one derives when one takes investment opportunities to their country of origin and that investment flourishes to better fellow citizens and the country at large.

Ambassador Saffa went on to state that the importance of Diasporas should not only be seen in the context of remittances, or even in engaging in petty business ventures, but should also be seen contributing immensely to the growth of the nation through national capacity building. The Deputy Ambassador assured his compatriots of a very strong political will at the very top of Government that prioritizes the importance of the Diaspora contributions to national development.

He cited the Office of Diaspora Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as a clear indication of how strategic the Government of His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio sees Diaspora citizens.

To this end, the Ambassador went on, the Embassy has a twin track approach, which involves the adult segments of the Diaspora communities, but also, paying attention and harnessing the potential of the Second and Third Generation of the Diaspora communities. In both groupings Ambassador Saffa explained, the Embassy is embarking on skills mapping as a way of attracting talents into Sierra Leone to augment the national capacity building efforts.

The network event took the format of an interactive session, where both participants from business organisations as well as those in NGOs discussed the potentials in either investment opportunities, or creating NGOs to further the development trajectories of Sierra Leone.

There were also discussions around the difficulties that the Diaspora communities encounter whilst trying to establish businesses in Sierra Leone.

The Deputy Ambassador was able to reply to some of these concerns raised by participants, but also promised to contact the competent agencies of Government for further clarification and action.

At the end of the network event, there was a Plan of Action; to set up a Task Force that will be responsible for putting into action some of the key points.

The Deputy Ambassador is part of the Task Force with the broad remit to organize a possible investment conference for Sierra Leone.

Canadian University Participates in Cyber Security Conference

The Canadian University of Modern Technology (CUMT) has participated during a one-day conference organized by Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Technical and Higher Education. The event which attracted various other universities in Sierra Leone was hosted at the conference room of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM), at Tower Hill in Freetown.

Ten (10) students led by Mr. Osman Kanu and Mr. Hamid Milton Mansaray CUMT’S Director of Academic Affairs represented CUMT. The selection of the students was done by CUMT’S Head of Computer Science and Business Information Technology Departments, Mr. Isaac M. Sesay and the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Dr. Hamza Bangura. The selection which was done based on merit did showcase itself as the CUMT students were positively vocal during the conference.

Speakers and Trainers/Facilitators of the Cyber Security Conference hailed from several countries including, Kenya, Ruanda, UK, USA and Australia.

The presentations focused on creating global communities of Software Engineers and Developers and to guarantee the visibilities of Infrastructural Developments in various universities across the globe. It was discussed that the world was now transitioning into the development of Software Codes in Microsoft and other developing entities.

An explanation of how JavaScript is a favourite handler was deliberated on. It was further said that the focus was to put together a Pan-African Concept Note on Software Development and that there was every need to involve students in such trajectories. It was also said that it was time for smaller companies to get in and be a part of the advancements and to establish what’s to be known as the Digital Public Goods Alliance.

The deliberations furthered that the globe is currently seeing a lot of opportunities and investments in softwares and that there was need to make a judicious usage of the opportunities.

The session established the need for effective collaboration at all levels, noting that Global Brands were currently looking forward to funding dedicated researchers to venture into such related fields. It was said that studies were to match Country Based Platforms and to further create Digital Learning Opportunities. It was furthered that agendas could be translated into local languages for the benefits of all and sundry. The approaches also emphasized the need to solve societal problems and errors and to ensure that the fixing of such errors matches sustainability.

The Conference also dilated on the need to be working on Projects and to fix Errors in Codes, using different models and to enhance efficiency.  It was said that there were experts in Norway, USA, UK and Kenya and that it was of essence to be making follow-ups on such conferences.

September, 2022 was proposed as a follow-up time for the conference, stating that there are plans to invite students especially females to advance their studies and research in Rwanda and other Technologically Driven Nations.

In conclusion, participating students were asked to work on their Curriculum ‘Vitaes’ and to post same online where an evaluation would be made for onward selection of deserving students that will be given opportunities to do internships at Microsoft in Kenya.

Participating in such a conference means so much to and for CUMT and that is where the Leaderships of Chancellor Muckson and VC Allyson are appreciated, utmost. Congratulations to CUMT. Congratulations to all students and all members of staff.

NCD to host Traditional Authorities

The National Commission for Democracy (NCD) will be hosting a Cross-Regional Dialogue programme for Traditional Authorities in the Eastern Regional District of Kenema to deliberate on the role of Paramount Chiefs and other traditional authorities in enhancing and ensuring political tolerance and peaceful elections as the ground is prepared for peaceful, free and fair electioneering processes before, during and after the 2023 general elections.

The occasion will feature presentations from eminent personalities including the Chairman for the Council of Paramount Chiefs, P.C Sheku Amadu Tejan Fasuluku Sonsiama III, the Chairman for the African Peer Review Mechanism who is also a celebrated Political Scientist, Dr. Charles Silver and our own, the revered Reverend who is serving as the PR and Communications Director of the National Commission for Democracy, Rev. Gibrilla Kargbo, with a focus on the theme: “Building a Participatory Community Democratic Culture”. Location: Lambayama Training Center, Wanmann Abu Highway, Kenema. Date: Thursday, 12th May, 2022.

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