Quizzed further, he said, “My view is that that provision and several other provisions which give powers to the ACC did not make it (ACC) subject to waiting for confirmation or information, or approval from anybody whatsoever.”
He went further to explain that because there is no subjection to or authority of approval from anybody else he said, “my view and it is the view of the commission that if corruption and corrupt practices come to our attention (remember the words used – ‘come to our attention’ from any other source without specifying that source as long as it is within Sierra Leone, we have the right to investigate.”
He further explained it is not about probing into the audit report.
“Let’s say for example the audit report says that there is corruption at institution X in the sum of Y. We have powers; and it has come to our attention; we don’t have to say it has come to our attention through the audit report. We have powers under section 56 of the ACC Act to go and request information from that institution about that particular issue. But we don’t have to make it that it is from the audit report.”
He added: “But again, even if we have to rely on the audit report because we are not subordinated somehow; our hands were not tied, we can investigate it.”
He went on to say he is aware of the provision in the constitution which says that audit reports should first be debated in parliament before they can be made dealt with by other people.
However, Commissioner Kaifala stated that what everyone needs to understand is the fact that corruption and corrupt practices is in a class of its own and that those fighting corruption are in a class of their own and that so far the investigation powers of the ACC were never limited.
He maintained that when the constitution made that provision it did not necessarily say that it has to be a corruption report. “We deal specifically with corruption and as far as I am concerned, section 7 of the Anti Corruption Act is basically saying you can investigate corruption from wherever source it comes to your attention. So I don’t think it is contradictory. I just think we are taking the definition a step further in a way that has never been done before.”
He added that for Parliament to do their job and for the ACC to do its own job is not the same thing but that even though both institutions are doing different things they are all working towards achieving the same goal which is to make sure that the governance of Sierra Leone is done transparently, accountably and without fear or favor.
He added further that “We are not in a competition or in conflict with each other. We have powers to investigate. Our powers are unlimited as it relates to corruption and the parliament has powers to look into audit reports and don’t forget, audit report has a wide array of things and it does not necessarily have to be corruption.”
He rounded up by saying: “We are not acting on the document in parliament. We are investigating an issue of corruption that has come to our attention and it does not matter where the lead comes from. I am saying that the sources that are available are the ones we would use.”