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ACC in a mess of its own making

ACC in a mess of its own making

It is rare for nearly all newspapers, radio callers-in and most of the general public to agree on a common ground and speak with one voice. But this precisely is what has happened over the decision of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) to settle the matter of the rotten ferries out of court. But, that is not the basis of the public outrage; it certainly makes sense to save time and taxpayers money on a long and winding court trial with objections and adjournments for ruling on legal submissions on points of law or otherwise. It makes sense for a criminal trial to proceed smoothly without endless adjournments because a juror took ill or because the presiding learned trial judge was indisposed. I am sure that nobody would have raised an eyebrow if that was the end of the story. But what has led to the public outrage is the contempt with which the ACC Commissioner has treated the public, a public which like the crowds recently in the streets of central Cairo, is asking for the head of any public official these days who has diverted public money or property to their personal use.  (Photo: Dr. Sama Banya)

For so long unscrupulous public officials from whom much has been expected from a suffering public have simply used public resources as if they were procured only for theirs and their family’s convenience.

For the last two years the public has waited patiently for an acceptable explanation for the failure to operate the two ferries that the NASSIT board and management had spent colossal sums of money to purchase in order to enhance the service between Targrin and the Kissy slipway. The ferries had failed because, to put it mildly, the transaction was not straight forward,  ending in the purchase of two rotten craft that were anything but seaworthy and fit only for the scrap yard.

To allay the public’s skeptism and worse fear, the ACC set up an investigation into the deal. One is not sure whether the result of those investigations was officially released or whether as seemed more likely they had been leaked to the public. In any case they did not make pleasant reading and the public became indignant at the bare faced daylight robbery of the NASSIT board and management. Part of the report revealed that some of the people who went to inspect the ferries had no business being there, like the then Transport minister, the chairman of the NASSIT board as well as the minister of labour. They had only gone on a jolly trip at the expense of the country’s pensioners.

After another protracted wait the ACC at last came out with a statement that there had been an out-of-court settlement with the Managing Director of NASSIT, his deputy, finance director and another.

It is the revealed quantum of the settlement that has left the public seething with indignation. How could the ACC Commissioner who had boasted so much about being fearless and impartial display such absolutely callous indifference to the feelings of the poor people of this country? How come that a man from whom the public had expected so much could so unashamedly conclude such a screw-eyed agreement? And why has there been no mention of some of the other people who had only gone on a joy ride at the expense of the NASSIT beneficiaries because they had no business in the inspection?

The ACC commissioner has let them all off the hook. Has he been under any kind of pressure as is being generally suggested? There have been comparisons with the case of Haja Hafsatu Kabbah, the Cocaine trial, the arrest of the Attitudinal Change Bureau and currently the arrest of the Executive Director of the Marine Time Organization Philip Lukulay?

The Supremo has repeated that he has no sacred cows, but could it be true as a diplomat has been quoted as saying that,” that there are sacred goats?”  If it were not for our doctrine of the separation of powers, I certainly would have advised my distinguished nephew to intervene. In the meantime what is holding back the NASSIT board chairman, the deputy managing director, the director of finance, the current Financial Secretary and the two ministers from resigning their appointments? Our Donor friends must be taking all this in with amazement.   

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