From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

May 12, 2010, 17:14


The sudden resignation of the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission on Thursday May 6th 2010 has left many Sierra Leoneans with mixed feelings. As a Transparency International Chapter and one of the leading Civil Society Organizations in the anti-corruption campaign in Sierra Leone, the National Accountability Group is concerned about the potential negative implications that this action may have on the entire anti-corruption initiative.

Firstly, we believe that this may create doubts in the minds of the citizenry of the country, who has had a seeming public confidence in the commission mainly as a result of the robust endeavors of Mr. Tejan Cole as Commissioner to make the ACC result oriented by uncovering sacred cows within the government. It may also send odd signals to the donor community whose continuous support in terms of funding, logistic and human resource has been principally as a result of the credibility of the Commissioner and his team, the general improvements of the mandate of the ACC and the seeming political will from the presidency to eliminate corruption which have been exemplified by the Zero-Tolerance Declaration on Corruption, the Attitudinal Change Campaign, the Enactment of a new Anti-Corruption Act, especially its Prosecutorial Powers and many other immeasurable endeavors.

Secondly, we are cognizant that Mr. Tejan Cole has the right to leave one job in quest for a better remunerated one, as purported by the Honorable Minister of Information and Communications. We all are of the feeling that before accepting the offer from the President, Mr. Tejan Cole was well aware of his mandate as Commissioner of ACC and the length of time of his service. We believe that he also accepted the offer because he wanted to provide selfless service to the people and help our President realize his dreams of combating corruption in Sierra Leone. Beyond Mr. Tejan Coleís quest for another job, as the Minister of Information presented, the people may want to know WHY the SUDDEN CHANGE from ACCEPTING TO SERVE THE NATION to LEAVING TO WORK ABROAD.

Moreover, with the prosecutorial powers provided by the new Anti-Corruption Act, the commission has had a steady improvement in its strides to combat corruption. This is characterized by the high profiled corruption cases and convictions, the restructuring of the Commission, the strengthening in terms of capacity and logistics of the various wings of the commission, the improvement in the fight against corruption in terms of public perceptions (as presented by the recent Transparency International Corruption Perception Index). As a result of these general improvements, the ACC has been able to win a high degree of public confidence and donor trust. By no uncertain terms, these laurels have been won as a result of the high level of commitment shown by Mr. Tejan Cole and his team, which has earned the commission immense credibility both locally and internationally.

Thus, WE REMAIN CONCERNED about this development and feel that it poses a serious challenge in the fight against corruption especially by the ACC. We are therefore calling on the government to ensure that the ACC is completely independent and free from POLITICAL INTERFERANCE and MANIPULATION.

If the fight against corruption should be a success in Sierra Leone, officials holding public offices need to conduct themselves with integrity and professionalism. They should strive to be transparent and accountable in their delivery of basic services to the public.

Finally, we would like to remind all and sundry that CORRUPTION poses a serious threat to the consolidation of peace, stability and the security of our society and the rule of law. It inhibits the fair distribution of resources as it has the tendency of undermining fundamental democratic values and institutions. It is a major obstacle to our social, economic and political development and the recognition and enjoyment of our fundamental human rights.

We therefore urge all to exhibit a changed attitude in a positive way, come on board the Anti-Corruption Campaign, and let us make Sierra Leone a Corrupt minimized if not corrupt free environment.

EDITORíS NOTE: NAG is an organisation formed and operated by Foreign Minister Zainab Hawa Bangura, one of the sacred cows of this current Ernest Koroma regime and also one of the suspected master-planners of the current plight of erstwhile Fisheries Minister Haja Afsatu Kabba. This is why the above Press Release has not taken any clear position but beats neither here nor there!.

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