It appears as if Sierra Leoneís beleaguered fight against corruption has been given rejuvenated and renewed life with the retrieval of Two Hundred Million Leones (US$60,000) from corrupt officials being auctioned out by the revamped team of workers at the countryís Anti Corruption Commission. This all happened within just one week of the assumption of office of the newly approved Anti Corruption Commissioner, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara who on Friday, September 24th 2010 met with the press and civil society groups at the Commissionís No. 3 Gloucester Street Head office where he also announced a seven-days ultimatum for errant Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentarians who are yet to submit their Assets Declaration Forms as required by Law.
Mr. Joseph F Kamara in his statement thanked President Koroma for the confidence reposed in his integrity and ability to manage, direct and lead the efforts at combating the menace of graft in the country.
"The confidence reposed in me by the President will surely not be misplaced," he told his audience.
The new anti-graft Boss intimated that it is now becoming an acknowledged fact that one of the most serious and greatest threats to true democracy in Sierra Leone is corruption, adding that the level and depth of this plague is as alarming as it is enormously rippling through the political governance and moral fabric of the country.
He however underscored that poverty has not helped in any way in ameliorating the situation as he noted, "The miserable level of poverty has not helped the situation," and therefore underpinned the need for poverty reduction which he said is linked to good governance and hence aiding anti corruption efforts in the country.
He called on government and all national stakeholders to rethink and re-energize their efforts and strategies towards poverty management if only success should be achieved in the fight against graft. "As long as the dismal level of poverty remains the same, the fight against corruption will remain a Herculean task," he noted but added that the trend is irreversible. Mr. Kamara however optimistically noted that giving the strength of will and focus of the Commission that is backed by sincere government political will, commitment and support, the ACC will surely overcome.
The determined ACC boss disclosed that he intends adopting a two-prong approach to addressing corruption in the country. Firstly, he said, they intend combating corruption through punitive action, and secondly by preventive mechanism through education and advocacy.
On how to go about the two methods, Mr. Kamara said he shall endeavor to engage the general public through outreach media strategies, learning, entertainment and culture. He also disclosed that he will deploy ACC agents as Vigilance and Compliance Monitors (VCMs) who would be trained ACC personnel assigned to government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAS), as well as other bodies establishment by Acts of Parliament or otherwise set up partly or wholly out of public funds.
In conclusion, he unveiled plans to review the asset declaration process through digitalization and regular forensic analysis to assist the Commissionís work in proper records management, archiving and the investigation of corrupt acquisition of wealth and possession of unexplained wealth contrary of Section 26 and 28 of the Anti Corruption Act 2008 as amended. About concerns for his safety fighting an entrenched nefarious habit like corruption, the determined looking Anti Corruption Czar was unrelenting in his stated position.
"I do not want people to worry for me but for corrupt officials as I am ready to expose those that are corrupt in public places," he ended.
Meanwhile, even more sums of corruptly acquired monies are expected to be retrieved and added to the Le250, 000,000 retrieved just within three short days last week.