Personnel from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) at the E.J Hall, thrilled Students of the Law Department of Fourah Bay College (FBC) on the legal framework of Commission and their ramifications on the fight against corruptions. The team, which comprised Prosecutor Joel DeenTarawally Esq., Public Relations Officer Margaret Murray and Senior Public Education Officer Sylvanus Blake, were honouring the invitation of Year One students offering the Introduction to Law module taught by Human Rights Lawyer and activist, Rashid Dumbuya Esq. The students presented on the topic ‘’A comparative Analysis of the Anti Corruption Act of 2008 and the new Amendment Act of 2019, looking at their Strengths and Weaknesses and proffer Recommendations for Reform”, while the ACC staff present were required to assess and critique the group’s research work objectively.
In his statement, the module tutor Rashid DumbuyaEsq said that learning by discovery is the simplest and most effective learner-centered teaching and learning technique. He said, as law students, research around topical issues like the legal frameworks around corruption, sexual offences, the death penalty, etc. will help them grasp key skills and aptitude required of the noble law profession.
During the presentation of Group Six, the ACC team observed with beaming admiration the depth, thoroughness and quality of efforts invested by the students into the work. The provisions of the Anti Corruption Act 2008 and the 2019 Amendment were drilled into adequately by the students. In a short skit that preceded the academic presentation, the students sensationalized crucial offences contained in the Acts to entice their audience. Offences like Misappropriation of Public and Donor Funds/Property, Offering, Soliciting and Accepting an Advantage, Influencing a Public Officer, Using Influence for Contracts, Bid Rigging, Academic Malpractice etc. were aptly mimicked by the students, explaining the acts, effects on society, the position of the law, and penalties. The students also explained the background of the nation’s anti-graft crusade, the gains of the ACC, the strength of the ACC and its legal frameworks, and the challenges/weaknesses and recommendations for the fight against corruption.
In their assessment, the ACC Team showered praise at the administration, course tutor and students for lending their valuable voices and intellect to the fight against corruption. Sylvanus Blake started off by saying that the fight against corruption is a national crusade and acclaimed the intellectual and legal discourse around it. He said that the students have demonstrated appreciable understanding of the fight against corruption and called on them to help spread the knowledge acquired to others.
Margaret Murray, in her contribution, was swift to address some misconceptions in the presentation that ran contrary to law and or to facts. She said that the assertions that questioned the independence of the ACC Commissioner and Deputy because of their appointment by the President and claims that the sanctions are weak, etc. are flimsy and could not stand on any leg. She stated that the independence of the ACC is provided for by law and that the Anti Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019 is one of the strongest anti graft laws in Africa. She thanked the students and administration for the quality work done and called on them to continue to partner with the ACC.
Noel DeenTarawally Esq. also expressed similar sentiments. He clarified some the misconceptions on the facts of law, especially that which has to do with the burden of proof. He said the issue of shifting the burden of proof to the defendant from the prosecution was one that needed clarification. He said although that it is a principle that the burden is on the prosecution, he reminded the audience that the exceptions to this principle are when an accused pleads insanity and or a statutory provision expressly gives such effect. He said the latter is what the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019 expressly did for certain offences.
On the issue of ACC’s jurisdiction over the private sector, which was a concern during the presentation, MrTarawally said the Act covers adequately a public officer, a person or any person. He clarified that the ACC can and has and shall continue to handle any person private or public, who is found in breach of the law.
Several questions asked by the students were responded to adequately by the Team and the Course Tutor.