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Fight against corruption: The sacred cow! – how far?

Fight against corruption: The sacred cow! – how far?

Sierra Leone has indeed come a long way in the fight against corruption. It was one of the best things that happened in the country’s reformation when the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) was formed with the aim of curbing public corruption that is so very entrenched and that has been the greatest hurdle to development strides of the country ever since the birth of the nation. (Photo: President Ernest Bai Koroma)

The country has gone through many pains and untold troubles because of the prevalence of corruption against the goodwill and development of the nation. The outbreak of the prolonged ten year brutal and senseless war could not in any way be dissociated with reckless corruption that was the order of the day.  The country’s institutions have suffered because of merciless fangs of corruption that have laid siege to their development and as such, it is apparent that after over forty years of self administration, its only now that the government and its development partners are attempting to put systems in place.

When the Tejan Kabbah government ventured at establishing the ACC, the lot of us breathed a sigh of relief; savouring the new found hope of the prospect of nipping the aged old cancer that ate into all the development and survival of the nation in the bud. Not too long into the existence of the ACC, it came to be learnt that the government was actually just paying lip service to fight against corruption; making a white elephant and a toothless dog out of the Commission.

Whilst it was clear that the government took to protecting its sacred cows that championed the course to wreck the country through corrupt acts, it was also sickening to note that the government just instituted ACC and disabled it by restricting its powers and jurisdiction – the cow and the rope affairs wherein the mandate was given to the Commission to fight corruption but was being quirked and capriced by the Head of State; calling the shots on who he deems not to be walking in his course; a witch hunt affair.  Up to the moment the SLPP was kicked out of power, the ACC made no impact on its mandate and as such was useless.

When Ernest Koroma was given the reigns to ride the country’s administration, his first proclamation was on his government’s quest to fight corruption, sparing no scared cows. The Anti Corruption Laws in the country were refined, giving it more powers than before, reversing its toothless state and making the fight to hush the dreaded disease a serious affair, appointing an apparent no-nonsense Commissioner in the person of Abdul Tejan Cole; that was a very good start.

With the new spirit injected into it, the ACC went into a frenzied affair; going after corrupt public officers bringing them to book using its new vested powers to prosecute. Precedence was set and the Koroma declaration against corruption gained more credence and trust. But after getting hold of the apparent ill-fated few, the sacred cows that had been under the cover of things started to emerge. After the dubious award of contract by Haja Afsatu Kabba when she was Minister of Energy and Power to Income-Electrix last year, the ACC went into the matter and proved that indeed corruption was at play but for reasons one could hardly understand, the ACC quit pursuing the matter and the untouchable lady was instead transferred to another Ministry to apparently continue her exploits of the nation.

Not long ago, defunct Minister of Health, Sheku Tenjan was sacked for reason of corruption probably because he did not fall in the category of the emerging sacred cows. The Minister of State in the Vice President’s office took the axe for the same reason but the President is yet to make a reply to allegations that he and his family are involved in huge corruption that is costing the country quite too much and for apparent reason, the no-nonsense Abdul Tejan Cole feels comfortable with such development probably because such a case is out his jurisdiction.

Questions are: how serious is Ernest Koroma’s quest to fight corruption? Is he any different from the Tejan Kabbah show or is his diktat of having “no scared cow” ably interpreted to target those that are not in his favour? Truly, the fight against corruption is very much a lip service issue as it had always been. I don’t see Ernest Koroma as being serious to do away with a system that he probably is part of.

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