Another public official in Sierra Leone agrees to repay stolen funds – Welcome to the Sierra Leone Telegraph
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 June 2019;
Hardly a week goes by these days that a Sierra Leonean civil servant has not reached an out-of-court settlement with the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to repay stolen public funds.
Although some of the sums at stake may be quite small, for many ordinary Sierra Leoneans it is not the sum at stake that matters, but the principle of holding public servants accountable, which they say the ACC now does very well.
And if this trend continues, before long the culture of corruption in public life and impunity in high places could drastically diminish in Sierra Leone – a country ranked among the most corrupt in Africa.
The ACC released a statement yesterday saying it has reached an out-of-court settlement agreement with a coordinator of the country’s national clean-up programme, to repay 40 million leones of embezzled funds. (Photo above: President Bio launching National Cleanup Day).
“The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to inform the general public that it has reached a settlement agreement with Mr. Hamid Emoneh, regarding misused funds intended for the national cleanup exercise,” the statement read.
Following the agreement reached with the ACC, Mr. Emoneh has now fully paid the forty million leones (40,000,000 Le) embezzled.
The ACC said it would return the sum recovered to the mayor of Freetown, as the funds were supposed to be used to pay allowances to a thousand young people during the clean-up exercise in late April 2019, but were instead converted to personal use by the Coordinator acting in concert with other people, while the workers were not paid.
The ACC indicates that it has also warned Mr. Hamid Emoneh, as long as his file is kept open, in the event of a recurrence of such an attempt at fraudulent use of public funds.
But the ACC is accused of encouraging the very act it is trying to eradicate, by not recommending the dismissal of the coordinator, while saying that it “wishes to reassure the public of its commitment to protecting public revenue at any time”.
Forty million leones may not seem like a lot of money, but it is the principle of holding public officials accountable and ensuring that justice takes its course that matters, no matter how much is at stake.
The ACC cannot afford to be perceived as inconsistent or inconsistent in its fight against corruption. So the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph asked the anti-corruption czar to explain why, in this case, the ACC did not recommend that the coordinator be sacked.
The ACC Czar – Francis Ben Kaifala (Picture above) said, “Because it’s administrative. Now that we have brought out the facts, the institution (Freetown City Council) can now take administrative steps. We have too many cases. We can’t pursue everything.
Sierra Leone Telegraph: “Do you need to sue before recommending dismissal?”
Francois Ben Kaifala: “Yes. Our laws only allow us to recommend dismissal after conviction.
Sierra Leone Telegraph“Is this anomaly in the current ACC laws part of the changes you have proposed to parliament in the Amendment Bill? And what is the current status of the Amendment Bill in parliament?”
Francois Ben Kaifala: “This is one hundred percent among the changes that the ACC has proposed to parliament in its ACC Amendment Bill. These are all things that the amendment seeks to correct. Regarding the status of the bill in parliament, it went through three readings, a final one, then the final passage soon.