Does President Koroma deserve accolades in the fight against corruption?
Recent political developments unfolding in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone seem quite bizarre yet unique and interesting. This is as a result of the governmentâ€™s pharisaical, inconsistent, parochial and selective/double standard posture in that direction. Sometime last month, I reacted rather angrily to a press statement from President Koromaâ€™s press secretary titled â€œPresident Koroma names and shames corrupt government institutionsâ€.Â I lambasted the presidentâ€™s press secretary for a worthless demagogic propaganda in support of the governmentâ€™s efforts in the fight against corruption, and the president for his lip service, lack of political will, and doing too little all too late to tackle the hydra headed monster and canker worm of corruption.
I also vituperated the ACC for not doing enough to control the pandemic. I ended my diatribe by calling for the president, his press secretary and the head of ACC to resign with immediate effect for betraying the trust and confidence of the people Sierra Leone. Barely three weeks later, the president in a rather unprecedented move has acted tough on corruption by backing his words, this time around, with some punitive actions against alleged culprits of the dastardly practice. I applaud the president for such a move in the right direction. What does not seem to cut ice with me however is the double standard with which both the ACC and government seem to be pursing their corruption crusade.
A couple of months ago, the failed anti-corruption crusader and so-called democracy activist, Zainab Hawa Bangura who happens to be Secretary of State for International Cooperation was wallowing in a corruption scandal involving tones of rice amounting to millions of US dollars solicitedÂ from the India Government (at concessionary prices) on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone. One would have expected the ACC, if it was an independent institution sober in pursuing its ideals, to have acted swiftly by thoroughly investigating the matter. I believe there were substantial evidences to corroborate the allegation to enable ACC nail Zainab. Unfortunately, All the ACC could do was to invite Zainab for questioning amid widespread media outcry over such a nefarious, irresponsible and reckless act. Â And that was the end of the matter. Period! Thatâ€™s crazy you know. But we shouldnâ€™t be surprised at Tejan Coleâ€™s action as he was merely recompensing Zainab, who they say, was instrumental in his appointment to that office. It should be noted that the ACC boss was head of The Campaign for Good Governance (Zainabâ€™s brain child) after her resignation as head of CGG to contest the presidential election of 2002 under the now defunct Movement for Unity Party.Â Â
The dummy government on the other hand purporting to work in the interest of the people paid blind eye to the issue perhaps because Zainab is â€œthe blue eye girlâ€ and protÃ©gÃ© of the president and obviously might have worked in connivance with certain unscrupulous elements close to the powers- that-be, to rob the poverty stricken people of Sierra Leone of their basic human rights- the right to food. The right to freedom from hunger is fundamental and the state has an obligation to ensure, at the very least, that its citizens do not starve. This right is reinforced in the 1991 constitution. Article 8 (2) and (3) of the 1991 constitution states that â€œevery citizen, without discrimination on any ground what so ever, shall have the opportunity for livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure a suitable employmentâ€ Â In the end Zainab was let off the hook as the matter died a natural death. What a pity and a classical example of a selective manner of the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone.
For some time now media reports have been exposing the shady deals and alleged corrupt practices that rocked the Secretary of state, Marine Resources Haja Hafisatu Kabbah, but no concrete action was taking by either government or ACC in a bid to investigate the scandal. I believe the ACCâ€™s vague excuse is that it did not have sufficient evidence (s) to prosecute the matter. Now that evidences abound, letâ€™s wait and see.
Only yesterday Haja Hafsatuâ€™s husband and sons were dragged to the ACC for questioning about her ill-gotten wealth. She herself later reported at the ACC where she was questioned about the corruption allegations against her. She and family were however allowed to return home. And hours later one of the most disgusting and outlandish twists ever in the presidentâ€™s fight against corruption occurred. A press statement from State House secretariat strenuously defending the governmentâ€™s position for not relieving Haja Hafsatu Kabbah of her duties as in the case of former Secretary of State for Aviation Kemoh Sesay and former Commissioner-General, NRA, Alieu Sesay. The rule of law states that the law is no respecter of persons and that all individuals must be accorded equal treatment before the law.Â The multi-million dollar question now is: Why should the president seem to be implementing separate rules regarding different individuals in his so-called fight against corruption? I believe there should be no safe haven for any sacred cows in the crusade against corruption in Sierra Leone. From the look of things the president is somewhat over protective towards his kleptomaniac inner core of insatiably self-seeking opportunists, who are beyond all doubts the most corrupt elements in the country. My honest opinion is that the president would never have got the guts to relieve Kemoh Sesay of his duties had it not been for the intervention of the international community in the cocaine saga. So where is the political will to fight corruption, Mr. President?Patrick Emerson Kai-Banya, Journalist and Hunan Rights/Political Activist, Philadelphia, USA Stay with Sierra Express Media, for your trusted place in news!
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