Sierra Leone court acquits embattled SLFA Boss corruption

A high court in Freetown has acquitted and discharged the President and the Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Football Association on corruption charges.

The two have been standing trial for alleged corruption for a very long time.

The Justice Reginald Fynn-court’s ruling paves the way for Johansen to be reinstated as the Sierra Leone Football Association, SLFA, boss.

FIFA last year suspended the SLFA due to government interference in soccer affairs, specifically protesting the removal of Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara.

Johansen and Kamara have both denied any wrongdoing over allegations of match-fixing involving the national team.

Global football governing body, FIFA’s ban on the West African country led to the inability of the SLFA to compete in the qualification towards the African Cup of Nations, AFCON 2019, slated for Egypt.

“Our appeal has been rejected,” the Football Association president Brima Mazzola Kamara, who replaced Johansen, told Reuters back in October 2018.

“It is not what we were hoping for, especially since this now means the CAF match won’t be happening. FIFA told us that Isha’s reinstatement was a prerequisite for our suspension being lifted, and when we told them she had not returned to work, they denied us,” he added.

Mazzola Kamara said that the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission will not budge on their decision to oust Johansen and SLFA general secretary Christopher Kamara.

Former Sierra Leone Deputy Minister of Works to pay US $30,000 or go to jail

The Anti-Corruption Commission has secured conviction against former Deputy Minister of Works Abdul Barrie who is to pay Two Hundred and Fifty Million Leones (Le 250,000,000) approximately US$30,000, within 30 days, effective 24th April 2019, or face three years imprisonment.

Deputy Minister of Works Abdul Barrie

Justice Reginald Sydney Fynn Jnr, on Wednesday 24th April 2019 in the High Court of Sierra Leone sentenced Mr. Abdul Barrie, former Deputy Minister of Works, Housing and Infrastructure (MWHI) to three (3) years imprisonment or pay a fine of Two Hundred and Fifty Million Leones (Le 250,000,000), following his conviction for corruption.

Mr. Abdul Barrie was standing trial on seven (7) counts of corruption offences in relation to contracts for the refurbishment of various government properties which he awarded to Ribar Enterprise, a business he jointly owns with his wife without disclosing his interest.

He had initially entered a ‘not-guilty’ plea at his first court appearance, but later changed his plea to ‘guilty’ for the fifth count of ‘Failure to disclose interest to public body’, contrary to Section 45 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act No 12 of 2008.

Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission arrests former Director-General of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration

For allegedly interfering with ACC investigations, manipulating witnesses and attempting to mislead the Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission of Sierra Leone on Friday arrest the former Director-General of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA), Dr. Sarah Bendu and her husband, Mr. Dante Bendu.

Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu . Photo credit The Standard Times Press

Dr. Sarah Bendu and her husband, Mr. Dante Bendu have both been detained by the ACC early this Friday morning, 11th January 2018.

Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu who had been on bail since December 22nd, 2018 following investigations into massive corruption at the SLMA during her brief tenure, and her husband, are alleged to have been directly interfering with ACC investigations, manipulating witnesses, attempting to mislead the Commission through interferences with known witnesses and suspects of the Commission and other related obstruction actions.

According to the ACC press release, the arrests are to protect the integrity of the investigation going forward, adding that the ACC thrives on integrity of investigations within the public domain and will not tolerate any tampering of witnesses or investigations by any individual under any circumstances. 

The Commission reassure the general public of its commitment to protecting government property, revenue and resources. 

Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission Recovered over US$876,000

Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has presented to President Julius Maada Bio over 7.5 billion leones (US$876,000) of monies recovered from corrupt people entrusted with public offices and state funds in Sierra Leone.

During the ceremony at State House, Deputy Commissioner of ACC, Shollay Davies, said it was a customary practice for the Commission to present to the President monies recovered from corrupt individuals before transferred to the Consolidated Revenue Fund in line with Section 139 of the ACC Act. He disclosed that this year’s collection increased by 801% from previous recoveries made since the review of the Act in 2008.

He stated that based on agreements already reached with suspects, the Commission was expected to recover Le 5 billion leones and over US$700,000 in the next six months. He noted that that was happening in the backdrop that this year the country was able to pass the control of corruption on the Millennium Challenge Corporation with a score of 71% compared to 49% in 2017.

“Also on the Afro-barometer the percentage of public perception on corruption has fallen from 70% to 43% which is as a result of the political will demonstrated so far. We look forward to the approval of the draft bill by Parliament which seeks to review the asset recovery as well as asset management within the country. The bill, we believe, will serve as a deterrent to corruption in the country.

“The New Year promises to be a year of hard work. As we progress into the next trajectory, we look forward to the actualisation of a special court that will try corruption cases that have stuck up in the court. We hope that we will be able to further improve on our mandate as we move into the New Year. Already, we have recorded 100% convictions of our cases in court and we are going to have more convictions,” he promised.

Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr Patricia Larvaley, said the event was a landmark one where, for the first time, the ACC was able to present such a huge sum of money to the Consolidated Fund. She said it was a new era of good financial governance, noting that the indicators of eradicating corruption in the country were beginning to improve. She added that that was a way of setting the momentum for the Commissions of Inquiry.

On his part, President Bio said he was extremely pleased with the efforts by the ACC to end corruption in the country, saying that the relentless work by the agency provided hope that the country was moving in the right direction. He disclosed that the monies recovered by the commission would be used to construct a medical diagnostic hospital for Sierra Leoneans.

“Apart from the hospital, we will use monies recovered to build a new office for the ACC that will be symbolic. Going into the New Year, I have reasons to smile because you are delivering on my promise to fight corruption. I am extremely happy for you. This is a new Sierra Leone and we are heading for a beautiful destination,” he said.

Sierra Leone President to urge ECOWAS to follow through on commitments to fighting corruption

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio will urge a closed meeting to address corruption, defence and democratisation in the region during
the fifty-fourth Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State opened in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

The President will also call on the authority, which comprises a selected number of former and sitting presidents, to make public the full outcomes of the forensic audit of its finances. He has always emphasised that ECOWAS must lay bare the full extent of systemic corruption and put in place systemic, cultural, and personnel changes needed to restore probity and transparency in the economic union.  

The President will also engage the day-long meeting, which brought together President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou and the UN Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, H.E. Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, to fast-track the effective and coordinated implementation of the defence and security sector reform programme, especially regarding support to the ECOWAS mission to restore democracy in The Gambia.

He believes that the commitment to contributing troops to the ECOWAS regional defence and security effort is very important and welcomes the decision of the sub regional group to escalate funding of the construction of the Lungi logistics depot in Sierra Leone.

President Bio will emphasise the need for democratic good governance in the region, the establishment and respect for governance institutions and instruments that ensure presidential term limits and the promotion of peaceful and credible elections processes.

Earlier in the opening session, the host, His Excellency President Mohammadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and current chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State, said he had promised a peaceful, credible and fair general elections which are due on 16 February 2019. 

ECOWAS is the Economic Community of West African States, a union of fifteen countries established on 28 May 1975 with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos. It mission is to promote economic integration across the region.

Crafting Anti-Corruption Policy from ACC Judgements: The Access Report

By Amira Hudroge


Amira Hudroge

Anti-corruption is one of the most topical rule of law concerns in Sierra Leone. The efficiency of rule of law institutions is optimized when they operate collaboratively and in good faith and are not just an expression of nomocracy but of liberal democracy, since these seemingly bureaucratic institutions can equally be employed as political pawns. Corruption has been a longstanding hallmark of Sierra Leonean politics across political regimes. Corruption continues to affect the nation’s economic development as can be seen in the effects of unlawful procurement processes for highly lucrative government contracts, and of tax evasion in the extractive industry. It also affects the exercise of socio-economic rights in the form of impeded access to basic public amenities. Against allegations of political interference and bribery within the justice system, corruption affects the consolidation of the rule of law. Clearly, corruption touches and erodes Sierra Leonean lives in a spectrum of ways daily.

The ACC was established in 2000 for the investigation and prosecution of corrupt practices. It also houses prophylactic wings such as the Public Education and External Outreach Department and the Systems and Processes Department (SPRD). The former addresses detrimental cultural attitudes towards corruption and informs the public about the ACC’s work. The SPRD takes a systemically reformative approach to combating the virus of corruption by seeking to identify “loop holes of corruption in the MDAs” and replace them with transparent and accountable systems. The SPRD is comprised of 3 units; the Systems and Processes Review, Monitoring and Compliance, and Policy and Ethics Units. The Systems and Review unit seeks to identify structural vulnerabilities and develop best practices within MDAs, the Monitoring and Compliance unit monitors MDAs to ensure they comply with systems and processes’ review recommendations, and the Policy and Ethics Unit develops and implements ethical procedures for MDAs and anti-corruption policies in both private and public sectors.

As of 2016, the ACC had charged 51 cases to court in total (CARL Press, Max Katta) and by 2017, it put the number of convictions secured at 105 i.e. excluding the outcomes on appeal (The Sierra Leone Telegraph, Abdul Rashid Thomas.) The public spectacle value of the trials has translated into somewhat emotive media coverage, but intensive PR efforts by the ACC have also secured public attention for the SPRD, although to a lesser degree. This is understandable, since trials of government officials are publically perceived as political indictments, (the ACC would beg to differ), and while politics can be populist and emotive, policy speaks to “drier” perhaps less titillating Science, or at least purports to. Simply put, the development of anti-corruption policy is not sexy.

On 1st July 2016, the Access Report, a minor policy initiative funded by the U.S. Government’s Bureau for Law Enforcement Affairs was submitted to CARL and CGG. The work, a curious hybrid between policy developmental work and conventional case reporting, was inspired by a deeply considered exhortation from leading authorities in anti-corruption policy for it to be developed by employing contextually rich case studies which fuse quantitative and qualitative research methods. While the quantitative may discern generalities and quantifiable trends from structured data aggregation, the qualitative may discern key particularities which give a human dimension to the subject. Interviews of knowledgeable insiders and proximate parties may be both quantitative and qualitative depending on their design. Beyond ascertaining how things worked, qualitative analysis really aims to secure subjectivities; what the sentiments were around work. In this sense, it is discursive analysis, i.e. of the discourse surrounding the case; the method predominantly employed in the Access Report.

Sierra Leone ranks 93 out of 113 countries on the World Justice Project’s rule of law index for 2017-2018 and donor funded justice sector related projects are essentially rule of law consolidation projects. The Access Report typified the role of the rule of raw in enhancing democratic governance, with the ACC, like other watchdog institutions at the hub, straddling the divide between law and governance, using the supreme authority of the law to optimize governance through accountability processes that involve transparency. Naturally then, pitted against the scale of corruption, the very nature of the process and high public expectations, the seeming hyper-mediatization of the ACC’s activities is actually vital. The AU and UN conventions against corruption recognize that added publicity and pervasive dissemination of anti-corruption efforts are critical components of the anti-corruption machinery, imposing such dissemination obligations on anti-corruption agencies. In line with this paradigm and with one fell swoop, the Access Report sought to, on one hand, detect gaps in law and policy formulation/implementation that could help foster corruption, and, on the other, to counter the concerns raised by the disturbing protracted neglect of case reporting.  As ss. 170 (1) and (2) of the 1991 Constitution identify common law (court decisions), as one source of law, the lack of case reporting is in itself a major rule of law concern since it engenders whopping access to information, judicial transparency and accountability issues, which themselves raise a host of rights issues. When I previously produced a case reporting volume published by the ACC in 2015; “The Anti-Commission Case Reports,” there was a lot of interest expressed by stalwart members of the justice sector in revitalizing and revamping the area of case reporting, but alas, the glimmering lights all too quickly got siphoned off into that ubiquitous black hole, we regretfully hear so much about.

The Access Report’s Findings and Recommendations section was geared towards realizing the aims of its wider “Accountable Governance, Justice and Security Project” to improve the effectiveness of justice and security institutions and government practices. The Report sought also to increase access to information and to enhance institutional transparency, in order to further reinforce accountability, civic participation and public confidence. However, since the work identifies issues in both law and policy innovation/implementation at the levels of the commission of offence and of the trial process, it is not sensu strictissimo policy-focused, since it evaluates both potentially legislative and policy reformative action; a near inevitability, as the policy development process operates as a continuous feedback loop at various stages of governmental action, at its most rudimentary mirroring GAP analysis.

Anti-corruption policy development is still very much a budding field and like all public policy must deal with the unpredictability of human nature. The sheer breadth and complexity of the phenomenon collectively labeled corruption, the infinitely varied nature of reality and the distinctive nature of corruption in the developed and in the developing world, are why anti-corruption policy development must be highly contextualized and why the qualitative method must go hand in hand with the quantitative. And though we must forge on bravely, the truth is that there is at least for now, limited empirical evidence on what works; the efficacy of anti-corruption trials and other modes of anti-corruption is unclear. “The messiness of reality makes it very difficult to figure out what works, and to isolate the impact of any one intervention(…)long-term behavioural change(…)is(…)very difficult to measure.” What is certain is that any impact that reformative efforts might have at all, depends on enforcement and responsive governance.

During a brief spell as lead in the Policy Unit of the ACC, I learned that target MDAs for an institutional anti-corruption policies’ project were determined by studies done by the Systems and Processes review unit, in conjunction with decisions taken by the ACC Management, donor directives, the preponderance of public complaints and trials. No clear research and drafting methodology behind these works was articulated. Apart from hard copies of completed policies, there were neither any e-docs nor e-databases indicative of a process. Neither qualitative nor quantitative research methodologies were apparently being employed in the true sense. Research is a highly intuitive process, largely at the analytical stage, not at the outset of garnering information, when intuition may only inform a broad framework of action, not replace it. “Surveys” of entire institutions were conducted with only one questionnaire, leading questions were employed during interviews, and the data from either of these sources might not necessarily inform the progress of the process, no broad stroke preliminary analyses of all this data being made for contextualization. This reliance on a slapdash, wham bam, ad hoc, largely predetermined rather than truly investigative approach and on drafting meetings with institutional reps., churns out mainly uninventive works and wastes great opportunities to devise creative solutions. Fusing qualitative and quantitative analyses of more widely conducted surveys, I surmised that unlike most issues raised which we were either not mandated or ill-equipped to handle, the lynchpin of combating corruption here was through increasing awareness of the activities of internal disciplinary mechanisms, enhancing their efficiency and improving their interaction with the ACC. This experience and the salience of the Findings made in the Access Report lead me to believe that the ACC’s policy development methodology would be greatly enriched, by absorbing the “fused quantitative and qualitative methods within contextually rich case studies” approach.

Although the Access Report is a limited study, I am of the conviction that twice or even thrice the number of sector specific cases could be reported and analyzed in like manner. This would of course, be more time and energy consuming, but many hands make light work. Equally, this approach could be employed across the board in justice sector institutions and to areas problematic for the consolidation of the rule of law; for e.g. MSGWCA could funnel the conclusions derived from contextually rich SGBV case studies into both its pre and post legislative enactment policies in that area of dire urgency and JSCO could use the same method with regards to corporate responsibility.

The Report’s Findings are subsumed under the headings; Information and Knowledge Management; Conspiracy and Procurement; Financial Control and Management and Diligent Case Preparation. The selection of cases being limited (8/30+ ACC judgments), the Findings are based on a circumscribed view of the available jurisprudence; we cannot avouch that they would subsist as is, were the parameters of this review to be drawn more widely. However, the salience of issues identified as being consistent across most of the 8 judgments, selected only on the basis of their notoriety, and of the fact of their being tried during the single tenure of Former Commissioner Joseph Kamara (2010 to 2016), is exceedingly persuasive. The finding that; “the MDAs concerned failed to make IM/KM values and principles central to their organizational management styles…resulting in a generalized practice/culture of non-reporting,” is credible because it is derived from 7 out of 8 cases. The same is true of a lot of the Findings. By contrast, the Finding that; “The absence of provisions in the GBAA/FMR on the Finance Officer (FO) and the Director of Financial Resources or the relationship between them fostered a culture of programme officers/managers hogging the financial management of public/donor funds, (and) bypassing FOs,” is derived from intra and not inter judgment analyses. However, the validity of these mono-sourced analyses is substantiated by analyses of laws and interviews; methodological authenticity that renders the Report’s incisive conclusions compelling.

The recommendation that; “IM and KM should be incorporated as key values and essential modus operandi into current MDA management styles and strategies,” and that; “Durable KM/IM systems should be built,” would seem to apply across all MDAs including the ACC. My experience in trying to access information from the ACC and other MDAs testifies to this generalized problem. The ACC largely does not maintain critical data logs and retrieving judgments and information from it was quite the rigmarole. Additionally, IM/KM is intricately woven into the four cross-cutting topics above and would have tightened the efficiency of the controls in each of these areas, had it been prioritized; for e.g. IM/KM weaknesses likely contributed to some less than optimal case preparation. Faced with the perennial research conundrum of how knowledge can be consolidated and human efforts maximized in the absence of a foundation of knowledge, the ACC should take the lead and put its own house in order first.

The Report is geared towards policymakers, members of the legal profession and the justice sector and in its current form should be accessible to the interested public. Its reach would be wider if further broken down, but then the value of certain nuances and complexities would be lost. Its public confidence utility is best achieved when employed by policy advocates in their public discussions as the credible basis supporting their policy positions and work. I opted to present moderately detailed case reports over essential ones to enable their future reliable use by policy makers and litigators and as a justifying frame of reference for my process and conclusions. The minor analysis of the public procurement process based on the PPA 2004 and PPR 2006 was completed before the ratification of the PPA 2016 in February of the same year. Insightful research into areas under reform is naturally quite arduous, but in this case proved constructive since the foci of our Recommendations were not addressed by the new law, hearkening back to the call by anti-corruption experts for the political framework conditions within which change is negotiated to itself be the subject of reform. Again, it might reinforce reformative studies conducted prior to parliamentary review, if these were infused with the method endorsed here.

External Consultants grapple with the same constraints as other unsupported seekers, the usual suspects: lack of electricity, water, poor library facilities, poor internet, a culture of sexual harassment, the alarming tendency for institutional knowledge to sometimes seem to reside purely within living repositories, again invoking IM/KM. That said, and notwithstanding the discrete selection of cases covered by the Access Report, its methodology and conclusions present and represent a unique opportunity to begin to address the gap in case reporting, while simultaneously developing impactful and effective policy. Local limitations then pale in comparison to this beacon. Bearing these contrasts in mind, I readily admit that unearthing previously concealed information, assembling and presenting it in a novel light, does come with the territory and that if anything, it is that I feel instead privileged in bringing to birth the modest but solid foundations on which future seekers, innovators and strategists can sturdily build…should they choose to do so.  “Everything begins with an idea.” ― Earl Nightingale.

The Access Report can be found by clicking on the following links:

Editor’s Note: The Author, Amira Hudroge is an independent consultant that has worked as a legal and policy analyst for the ACC, CARL and CGG. She has also worked in International Criminal Tribunals including the Special Court and the ICC. She holds an LLB (Univ. of Westminster) and LLM (UCL).


Sierra Leone anti-corruption boss says fighting corruption is to save the nation’s soul

The Anti-Corruption Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala Esq., has informed partners that the “fight against corruption is to save the soul of Sierra Leone”.

ACC Commissioner, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq.

He made this statement on Tuesday 17th July 2018 at the ACC Conference Hall, 3 Gloucester Street Freetown during a one day training workshop organized for new Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) partners in the fight against corruption.

“We need people to help in the fight because the Commission alone cannot win it; that is why strategic partnership is very important” the ACC boss furthered.

Mr. Kaifala also said, the fight against corruption will be taken seriously more than ever before.

“We are expanding the scope of operations of the ACC, we are expanding the offences that we take to court, we are expanding the systems and processes review exercises, to see that corruption is minimized and prevented; and we are going to review the AC Act 2008 to make it stronger and better”, the Commissioner averred.

He informed the audience that the Commission is going to establish a special court that is going to look exclusively at corruption cases with special judges.

He said, the challenge the Commission faced before with the Judiciary was when the Commission’s cases had to fall behind other cases in court. He mentioned that the training was timely and called on them to take the fight seriously.

Welcoming members of civil society organizations, Deputy Commissioner ACC, Shollay Davies said, the Commission appreciates the efforts of the CSOs to be part of the team in the fight against corruption.

He stated that, ACC is not only meant to investigate and prosecute instances of corruption, but also to educate the public on issues of corruption and the benefits of corrupt free society and to review systems and processes of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Mr. Davies said the purpose of the training was to collaborate and maintain the mutual cooperation between the Commission and the CSOs; noting, “if we do not effectively collaborate with CSOs, our work will be very challenging”.

He underscored that the training workshop was to enable them understand the elements that constitute corruption offences under the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 in order to be capacitated to inform the public accordingly.

Deputy Director, Public Education and Outreach Department of the ACC, Patrick Sandi dilated on the structure and operations of the ACC.

Explaining some of the offences in the AC Act of 2008, ACC Prosecutor, Jeelo Kainwo, explained some of the corruption offences that are frequently committed. She mentioned offences like misappropriation of Public funds and property, misappropriation of donor funds, violation of procurement procedures and offering, soliciting and accepting an advantage, among others.

Michael Sesay, Head of Public Education Unit, ACC, spoke on the role of partners in the fight against corruption and encouraged all to support the war against corruption.

Story published courtesy of the trumpet newspaper