Holding Francis Ben Keifala accountable for electoral fraud


By Sylvanus Fornah Koroma (What A Man!)

Impunity in the electoral process threatens the essence of democracy in Sierra Leone, and Francis Ben Kaifala is the new symbol of electoral impunity in the country as he continues to enjoy the abuse of his office after he has purportedly and fraudulently imposed an executive in a sham election as the Returning Officer that he was not ever mandated. He used his government office authority and with the instruction of the police to perpetuate wrongful conduct in the said election. Today, I am discussing the alarming actions of Mr.
Francis Ben Kaifala, the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Sierra Leone, during the election for the Executive of the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA) at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Kenema on May 18, 2024.

As the head of the ACC, Mr. Francis Ben Kaifala represents the face of an institution tasked with upholding integrity and combating corruption. However, his conduct during the SLBA
elections starkly contradicts these principles. Mr. Francis Ben Kaifala’s blatant acts of corruption and attempts to fraudulently install his Kailahun sister and her team as the new SLBA executive have severely undermined the ACC’s credibility.

If such impunity is left unchecked among those responsible for ensuring fairness and justice, the consequences for Sierra Leone will be dire. The erosion of public trust in key institutions can lead to widespread disillusionment, weakening the foundations of our democracy. In the
subsequent paragraphs, I will delve into the specific reasons why unchecked impunity poses such a grave threat to our nation’s future especially when it is perpetuated by those in authority and with the specific mandate to stop the recklessness as in this case.

First, I want this readership to look closely into the word ‘impunity’. Impunity means exemption from punishment or freedom from injurious consequences of an action. It refers to
a situation where someone is not held accountable for their actions, often leading to a lack of consequences for wrongdoing. In the context of democracy, impunity undermines the rule of law, erodes public trust, and destabilizes societal harmony. When individuals or groups engage in unlawful acts without facing accountability, it sets a dangerous precedent, encouraging further violations and fostering an environment of injustice and corruption.

What will it mean if a government is seen and known to condone the impunity of its officials’ reckless behaviour against the citizenry? Current-day Salone is a factual case study to this
question and join me as I unravel the truth about Francis Ben Kaifala’s abuse of position!


Sierra Leone is currently grappling with a severe impunity crisis surrounding election rigging, and Francis Ben Kaifala has joined the ranks of Mohamed Konneh, the National Returning Officer of the Electoral Commission of SierraLeone (ECSL), in an arrogant display of impunity. Despite the reputable institutions they lead, their actions have brought these institutions into disrepute. For instance, the ACC is now both locally and internationally
discredited due to viral videos showcasing Ben Kaifala’s misconduct and nepotism. These videos depict his efforts to impose his Kailahun sister, Madam Tuma Jabbie Gento-Kamara,
and her team as the winners of the SLBA election. This unprecedented rigging has no bearing on the established practices of the SLBA elections, and many lawyers, in fact, most lawyers I know are resolute not to recognize the fraudulently imposed executive as the SLBA executive.

The fact is that Madam Swallow’s led SLBA executive is on extended time until it officially handover and completes the usual protocols that are obtained at the AGM of the SLBA.

In an attempt to defend the ACC Commissioner’s shameful actions, Mr. Alfred Kamanda, an aspirant for the Public Relations Officer (PRO) position in the SLBA 2024 executive, appeared on a popular radio and television program in Freetown after the May 18, 2024, event that happened in Kenema. He claimed that Hon. Julius Nye Cuffie Esq had declined his nomination, leaving Francis Ben Kaifala as the sole candidate for Returning Officer.

However, Mr. Charles I. Williams also an aspirant for the PRO position, debunked
Kamanda’s assertions, informing listeners that Mr. Cuffie’s nomination stood and was seconded during the AGM in Kenema. Mr. Cuffie himself had to clarify on the same program via SMS text that he did not decline his nomination which he later backed with what can be
described as a press statement on several lawyers’ WhatsApp forums.

This brings us to the fact that ACC Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala imposed himself or accepted being imposed as the Returning Officer for the SLBA 2024 election amidst strong
protests in Kenema on Saturday the 18th day of May 2024. It is important to note that Hon. Julius Nye Cuffie is significantly more senior in the Bar than Francis Ben Kaifala, and traditionally, the most senior member conducts the elections if the Returning Officer is not voted in. Many lawyers I have contacted believe that Francis Ben Kaifala imposed himself to
confer an advantage to his Kailahun sister, Madam Tuma Jabbie Gento-Kamara, and her team.

The questions that arise are: Why did the head of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption
Commission, Mr. Francis Ben Kaifala, impose himself or allow himself to be imposed as the Returning Officer despite serious protests from his professional colleagues? Why did he ignore these protests even when made to his face, and openly rig the election, distributing
ballots to unverified individuals in favour of his sister? The simple answer is that Francis Ben Kaifala is an officer of the Paopa regime and believes that everyone in Sierra Leone must be forced to comply with the Paopa mentality. Ben Kaifala’s impunity mirrors the country’s
national politics. However, his actions are now beginning to turn into a blessing in disguise, as people are determined to end the impunity of rigging in Sierra Leone. Hopefully, the Tripartite Committee report will begin to address this issue. The Krio saying, “Take tem
draw rope, mek u nor bring bush na tong,” which advises against actions that expose hidden issues, is apt here. Francis Ben Kaifala’s electoral rigging has exposed the Paopa regime’s flaws, galvanizing people to put an end to electoral rigging and strive for peace with justice.

The refusal by Mohamed Konneh, the National Returning Officer ECSL, to publish and gazette the June 2023 multi-tier election results as mandated by law undermines the mantra of transparency and integrity the ECSL purported to uphold. This failure highlights a systemic issue where institutions like the ACC are unable or unwilling to ensure compliance with the law, revealing a broader problem of ‘State Capture.’ Under this regime, key institutions are controlled by the same group of people, leading to widespread impunity. This
situation underscores the urgent need for an ethnic audit in the hierarchy of all public institutions in Sierra Leone.

The ACC, under the influence of the Paopa mentality, has failed to hold Konneh accountable under sections 42, 43, and 44 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 And Amendments. This inaction allows impunity to flourish, with the ACC using intimidation tactics, like the
Scorpion Squad, against those who are not aligned with the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) or the Paopa faction. However, the blatant rigging of the SLBA election by Francis Ben Kaifala has sparked a new wave of determination among Sierra Leoneans to end electoral rigging and malpractice by refusing to recognize and cooperate with the official for whom the rigging is executed. The electoral malpractice by the ECSL has led to a national governance stalemate since the June 2023 elections, due to the failure to publish and gazette results that were supposedly already tallied, computed, and certified. In brief, this impasse prompted the Bio-led  government, through the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC), to call for dialogue between the All Peoples Congress (APC) and the SLPP. This dialogue resulted in the Unity Agreement signed on October 18, 2023, which included the formation of a Tripartite Committee to examine the 2023 elections using previous elections
(2007, 2012, and 2018 elections) as reference.

However, the exclusion of the 1996 and 2002 elections from this review raises concerns. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to avoid scrutiny of the infamous 1996 elections, during which the current Head of State, then also the Head of State, admitted in video evidence to
manipulating the election process to ensure an SLPP victory. This historical infamous manipulation – In I wear green but a different kind of green to ensure that SLPP won the 1996 elections – mirrors and corroborates his recent hosting of the SLPP MPs at a State
Lodge dinner where he made statements about using his power to protect his party people, thus revealing a long-standing partisan approach to government. The 1996 elections were also notorious for the ‘Jonahnism Formula’ used by the Interim
National Electoral Commission (INEC), which involved the unilateral reallocating and reapportioning of votes to favour a particular candidate and political party at the whims of the INEC Commissioner James Jonah. Where for example the number of votes exceeds the
number of voters due to plural or overvoting, and there are places with low voter turnout that may be due to low population, James Jonah just reallocated votes to suit his convenience in favour of his preferred candidate and party. These malpractices must be brought to light
and addressed openly. At any rate, we must now test the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 And Amendments to see if the ACC truly combats corruption or selectively targets opposition members while protecting Paopa allies.


The actions of Francis Ben Kaifala and Mohamed Konneh illustrate a troubling pattern of impunity and state capture in Sierra Leone’s institutions. This pattern threatens the very foundation of our democracy. It is imperative that we hold these individuals accountable and
demand transparency and fairness in our electoral processes. I call on all citizens and stakeholders to advocate and join me in the CALL FOR AN ETHNIC AUDIT IN THE HIERARCHY OF ALL PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS IN SIERRA LEONE to ensure that our governance structures reflect true democratic principles. By addressing these issues head-on, we can restore faith in our institutions and pave the way for a future where integrity and justice are not just ideals but realities in Sierra Leone. Let us unite to end the culture of impunity and ensure that every election is conducted fairly and
transparently, honouring the will of the people. *Francis Ben Kaifala must do the needful, and must not wait to be told.


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