“This meeting is a testimony of this commitment, and is being done so as to avert all speculations and innuendoes about the Commission’s activities,” he informed journalists.
Giving a synopsis about the activities so far of the ACC, the Coordinator of Activities, Mr. Amara explained that a lot has taken place since the Commissioner took office last year. The ACC has been able to get some convictions and out of court settlements with various suspects, culminating in the recovery of Le12 billion in just eight months.
However, he stated that there are some cases being investigated and that some 40 cases are in court. He explained that the Commission has been able to get special judges assigned to deal with corruption cases. This, he stated, is responsible for the fast-tracking of cases in the court, adding that the ACC is pushing for a special court to handle all corruption cases.
He went on further to say that the Commission has been engaged in sensitization of communities, schools, and colleges on the impact of corruption and the need to fight this scourge.
Mr. Amara explained that conviction was obtained in the case involving some officials of the Ministry of Information with regards to a Le115 million squandered amount. He was pleased to announce that the convicts were given custodial sentences with no alternative.
He reiterated recovery of monies from Dr. Sarah Bendu and others on the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration saga, adding that they are paying back the monies misappropriated.
On the restructuring of the Commission, the Coordinator maintained that progress is being made and in this vein, regulations on the Declaration of Assets has been tabled in Parliament and would become law shortly. He stated that the amendment of the ACC Act has been tabled in Parliament and will soon be debated for enactment.
Giving his update on his institution’s activities in the past eight months, the ACC boss, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. expressed his appreciation to the CSOs and the media for their collaboration. He said the recovery of stolen monies in the past 8 months is over Le12 billion with 11 convictions.
He noted that this has enhanced the Commission’s ranking internationally and helped it gain more respect. He explained the rationale behind out-of-court settlements. He stressed that the speed and volume of cases investigated by the Commission, if charged to court will clog the already burdened system.
He said: “Investigations into corruption cases are complex. They take time and resources and it is the only offence where the suspect controls the evidence. A corruption offence is the only case where the one who commits the offence has all the evidence under his control. For the Commission to come with evidence of such magnitude against perpetrators is a testimony of the time and work put in their investigations. It is this situation that has compelled the Commission to have such settlements to reduce the cost of the trial to the country, and get results in real time.”
He made reference to the 50th Anniversary case that has gone on for eight years now with no end in sight. He rhetorically asked: “What will be the benefit to the nation?” He added that whilst the court may order payment of certain amounts as fine, the out-of-court settlement ensures that the suspect pays back all that is stolen.
The ACC boss explained that the monies collected can be used to provide health facilities for the country. He made reference to the absence of diagnostic facilities for certain diseases like kidney etc, which is causing Sierra Leoneans to go to Ghana for treatment, adding that majority of the country’s nationals cannot afford to fund such medical treatment. He noted with the funds recovered, the Government can boost the health system with the necessary machinery to handle such ailments.
He informed his audience that there are pending cases under investigation such as claims against the APC Secretary General Osman Foday Yansaneh of receiving salaries after becoming Secretary General of the party, continued NATCOM investigations, investigations into the contract of the Fiber Optic, and the Auction process at the quay and investigations into the SLRA are all pending cases.
He called on the general public to take the fight against corruption as their own and assist the Commission with any relevant information about cases of corruption. Several speakers expressed similar sentiments of commitment to the fight against corruption.