President Bio is not fighting corruption. He has no clear policy on effectively eradicating graft and corruption. The ACC has been largely cherry picking. The COI is a waste of public funds. Its recommendations have never dented corruption, after 4 previous commissIon of inquiry. Corruption is still endemic and opaque.
How to fight corruption in Sierra Leone, if I was the president.
The definition of corruption is too broad. It needs to be broken down and resources targeted to where it is most difficult to eradicate.
I will set up a committee comprising of distinguished scholars, religious leaders, Judges, civil society , representatives from traders -the business community and youths to come up with a contextual definition of corruption taken in to consideration the nature and perception of our people on corruption.
I would propose to delineate the act of stealing from the broader concept of corruption.
Stealing is an unlawful taken of that which you don’t own, without the consent of the rightful owner, with the intent to deprive the owner permanently.
Corruption could mean anything– wider in scope of its definition and practices.
For instance. Politicians buying and supplying rice and foods to their constituencies are engaged in influence peddling to get votes during elections.
Many people can hail this , look-alike philanthropic efforts as good, but on critical thinking, politicians using their own money to feed people, illustrate two unfortunate aspects of politics in Sierra Leone.
1) it is analogous to feeding someone but not empowering them to feed themselves. Therefore,politicians actions make vast majority of their constituents depend on them for support. Government has to build institutions – that steps in to provide support for the people. Things like good water supply, electricity and social welfare are not something individual can do. It is the state responsibility and the rights of people to access it.
The susceptibility for politicians in Sierra Leone to engage in stealing or in corrupt practices increases as the pressures from their constituents to help them increases.
State governance is not about charity. Government has a unique constitutional duty to provide social services and utilities for the people. This responsibility can never be substituted by the practice of politicians assuming the role of philanthropy or charity.
For example, in a moment of national hardship or crisis, when people are in need of food, government should allocate the necessary funds to local government institutions to support the people in need.
I myself will supervise how the funds are used; on who, on what ,when and how much. Any fraudulent conversion or favouritism in the distribution process, those involved will be summarily dismissed and charged to court. All cases involving embezzlement , misused of public funds must be concluded between 2 to 3 weeks. Judges and magistrates will be allowed to conduct an all night sittings to secure swift justice.
The central planks of my policy on ridding corruption and public theft, will focus on state officials,including my government officials.
I will introduce the followings:
1) abolish the ACC and replace it with a crack unit of agency for financial crimes, AFFC.
Their functions will includes intelligence gathering on suspected crimes, surveillance technics, detection and disruption. The principle of strick first before the criminal strikes will be the motto of the AFC.
It will be largely an anonymous force of ordinary men and women,who will be carefully recruited under my supervision , who shall undergo thorough security and other background checks, crucial among them is political connection.
An oath of secrecy and impartiality will be a key requirement for recruitment. Their modus operandi will be shrouded in secrecy and loyalty to the state and not to the sitting government or political parties.
They will be highly paid so that they could not be compromised. Staff working in the AFFC should recognize that the consequences of allowing themselves to be corrupted will far out way accepting a bribe.
An AFFC found accepting bribes in the course of his duty, will be sent to jail and after completing his sentences he will be barred from working in the public service. So a high prize to pay is a deterrent to help build an elite professional intelligence service above reproach.
Any state and public sector employee who show signs of living above their means, such as building mansions or purchasing an expensive jeeps, will be invited to explain how and where he got the money from. My government wouldn’t wait for a commission of enquiry to investigate. The strike first principle will be extremely potent in fighting corruption, under my administration.
There was an interesting case in UK. A police officer started driving an expensive Ferrari car to work.
His colleagues became suspicious and directed their intelligence radar on his movement. How could he afford a Ferrari car on a salary of £24,000.
He was followed and spied on my detectives. His house was placed under secret surveillance, phone and computer communication bugged. His bank account was monitored
What came out was staggering. The guy ,as a police officer, was running an elaborate brothels- prostitution ring, in London.
This is how I would like to fight corruption in Sierra Leone.
The ACC and COI can’t beat corruption in Sierra Leone. Corruption can only be beaten by a leadership that despised cheating and by empowering the citizens to disown state criminals and and work with AFFC to disrupt their activities and catch them.
The greatest fear in the minds of a criminal is in his lack of trust with his neighbours or family circle and friends.
My experience as a former immigration officer and a stint in intelligence in the UK Home Office , revealed that people should fear their own relatives and friends more than someone they don’t know.
Out of every four intelligence that was reported to us on illegal immigration offences ,three were made by close family members or friends.
Wives reported on their husbands who had travelled abroad to bring another woman to stay in UK under the pretext of sponsoring her to study.
Sisters reported sisters for working in breach,WIB , which is a removable offence or section 10, of the immigration offences act, which is that the subject has overstayed.
This is also a removable offence. Your friend or relative can report you for entering in to a sham marriage, providing full details to a duty officer, such as the names of the couple, venue of marriage with date and time. As you arrived on what was supposed to be your big day, immigration officials , immaculately dressed in suits will welcome you and your potential bride. Case closed.
You need to have the knowledge, experience and discipline to govern and fight corruption, in Sierra Leone.
I will propose a thorough review of the proliferation of foreign banks operating in Sierra Leone to ensure they are not being used as a conduit for money laundering.
I will ask for help from the British government to help train staff of the agency for financial crimes in intelligence gathering, surveillance, detection and disruption of crimes. This will include capacitating the agency,I will set up in Sierra Leone, to do their work efficiently.
Moreover, I will negotiate with the British prime minister to help trace and return money stolen from Sierra Leone to buy properties in UK or invest in other assets, under the McMafia law.
The McMafia law forces the subject to prove the homes were not bought using dirty money.
President Buhari of Nigeria, who had demonstrated his commitment to fighting corruption in his country, by publishing his assets to the public, arrived in UK and asked the former British prime minister David Cameron, who described Nigeria as ” fantastically corrupt” for help in tracking down and return Nigerian stolen wealth.
Since then ,billions of stolen wealth from Nigeria including properties have been seized under the McMafia law.