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Joseph Kamara Must Quit

On 24th May 2013, the Anti-Corruption Commission issued a press released signed by Koloneh Sankoh, Acting Director of Public Education & Outreach Department, informing the public that Hon. Justice Abdulai Charm, High Court Judge, had acquitted and discharged Momoh Kemoh Konteh on charges relating to the documentary aired by Al-jazeera ‘Africa Investigates’ series. Momoh Konteh was indicted on the 16th April 2012 on a five counts indictment for the offences of soliciting an advantage contrary to section 35(1), peddling influence contrary to section 31 (3), conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, contrary to section 128 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008. The Commission’s released stated that the ACC was currently reviewing and studying the judgement, with a view to making an informed decision on the issue of filing an appeal. The Commission further assured the public that NOTHING will undermine or deter its mandate to ensure that the corrupt in our society are brought to book.

The ACC’s reaction to the verdict was acerbic. According to the pro-SLPP New People online in an article written by Abdul Fonti and entitled ‘ACC Prosecutors wept in open court’,  the Commissioner disclosed that his prosecutors wept openly in court today when the High Court handed down a verdict against the Commission.  According to the article, Commissioner Kamara described the judgment by the High Court as a sad moment for justice in Sierra Leone. He is quoted as saying “It is such a difficult experience for the Commission in light of the weighty evidences that was presented to the court,’.

As always, the Commissioner cast the blame for the acquittal verdict on the judiciary. The Court has decided on the matter it is now left for the court of public opinion to give its own verdict on the matter. The ACC Boss did not mince his words when he pointed out that his ‘confidence in the justice system in Sierra Leone has been shaken to the core’. He said the Commission prefers a separate judicial system to specifically be looking at corruption matters, rather than continuing under the current judicial set up.

Joseph Kamara is spot on. The fact that judiciary is corrupt is not news. In its report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission stated clearly and categorically that ‘corruption in the judiciary… was rife’. It further stated that institutions such as the judiciary… had become mere pawns in the hands of the executive. Yet with the same ‘corrupt’ judiciary, the ACC prior to Joseph Kamara’s accession to the office of Commissioner used to do a great job convicting people. On the Commission’s website, it points out that in 2010, before Kamara was Commissioner, the ACC convicted the following:

Summary of ACC Convictions in 2010

 No.

 Name

 Offences

Date Convicted 

 1.

 David Lewis Walker
(Coordinator School Feeding Project)

 Misappropriation of Public Funds

 2nd March 2010

 2.

 Joe M. Seiwoh – Procurement specialist (MOD)

 Abuse of office, Abuse of position & Using office for advantage

 18th March 2010

 3.

 Idriss Sankoh Kamara – Major RSLAF (MOD)

 Abuse of office, Abuse of position & Using office for advantage

 18th March 2010

 4.

 Sheiku T. Koroma (Former Minister of Health)

 Abuse of office, Abuse of position & Failure to comply with procurement procedure

 11th March 2010

 5.

 Adrian J. Fisher (Vol.1) (Magistrate)

 Misappropriation of Public Funds

 10th June 2010

 6.

 Alimu Bah (Secretary-General SLFA)

 Misappropriation of Public Funds

 17th June 2010

 7.

 Haja Afsatu Kabba (Former Minister of Fisheries & Marine Resources)

 Misappropriation of Public Funds/Abuse of office – convicted on Misappropriation of Public Funds

 12th October 2010

 8.

 S.K. Huggins (Civil Servant)

 Misappropriation of Public Funds

 15th October 2010

 

In one year, the ACC convicted 2 sitting Government Ministers including the powerful and influential, Afsatu Kabba. It not only convicted Ministers but it also tried to address the corruption issues in the Judiciary. It convicted the popular Magistrate, Adrian Fisher and got two judges, Alusine Seisay and Allan Halloway suspended.

Since Kamara took up office, he has been unable or unwilling to match this feat. He amended the indictment of former NRA Commissioner General, Alieu Sesay by increasing the number of counts to 57. He was acquitted on all 57 counts. He charged the former Mayor of Freetown, Herbert George Williams on 25 counts of corruption charges ranging from conspiracy to commit corruption offence, failure to pay PAYE tax and NASSIT contributions, misappropriation of public revenue, wilfully failing to comply with the laws relating to the procurement of services and other related offences. He barely managed to get a conviction on the last two counts 24 and 25. Under his watch, the Appeal Court overturned the Appeals of John Mans and SLRTA boss Sarah Bendu. It lost the case against Gibril Massie Bah and others and also the case against Alpha Turay, former bursar of the Sierra Leone Muslim Brotherhood secondary school in Makeni.

The ACC prosecutions have at best been sloppy and at worse inept. A clear example was the case against Mohamed Allie Shaaban of WAKA FAST CONSTRUCTION COMPANY. Shaaban was indicted and dragged to court by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on a one count charge of misappropriation of public revenue amounting to Le800,000,000.00 (eight hundred million Leones) allegedly being payment for construction of market and shop center at Fisher Street. In his verdict, Justice Katutsi explained: “The Company did not construct the market and shop center. Evidence abounds to show that this failure was not due to the default of the company. The site at which the market was to be constructed was occupied by squatters and tenants who had to be evicted and relocated elsewhere by the government.’ Justice Katutsi continued ‘By the time these charges were preferred on the 9th accused, the squatters and tenants had not been evicted. They had stayed put. And now the Anti-Corruption Commission in their immense wisdom has pressed charges against him. They say and would like court to convict him of all offences including misappropriation of even money that was deducted as tax! Well, wonders never cease to happen! …Unfortunately, a whole cabinet minister has been dragged in this ungodly affair and ordered the 9th accused to return the money including the sum that was withheld as tax. What justice! …..In my humble opinion and judgment, the 9th accused is not being prosecuted. He is being persecuted for engaging in lawful business. This to say the least is very unfortunate. Charges against him are hereby dismissed with all the contempt it deserves. He is accordingly acquitted”.

Katutsi’s judgment and sarcasm was a damning indictment on the ACC and Kamara in particular. Judges cannot be expected to convict when the prosecution is amateurish and second-rate. Kamara spends half of his time pandering to the media and spinning cases. The other half he spends politricking. He has openly declared his intention to contest for the presidency in 2017 in clear breach on the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act which prevents the staff of the Commission from having any political affiliation or declared interest. He cannot successful prosecute corruption case but aspires to become Attorney-General and President of Sierra Leone. After his latest tirade, he is unlikely to ever get any sympathy from any judge. The fight against corruption has retrogressed under his leadership. It is high time he takes the moral high road and quit.

Joseph Kamara Must Quit

On 24th May 2013, the Anti-Corruption Commission issued a press released signed by Koloneh Sankoh, Acting Director of Public Education & Outreach Department, informing the public that Hon. Justice Abdulai Charm, High Court Judge, had acquitted and discharged Momoh Kemoh Konteh on charges relating to the documentary aired by Al-jazeera ‘Africa Investigates’ series. Momoh Konteh was indicted on the 16th April 2012 on a five counts indictment for the offences of soliciting an advantage contrary to section 35(1), peddling influence contrary to section 31 (3), conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, contrary to section 128 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008. The Commission’s released stated that the ACC was currently reviewing and studying the judgement, with a view to making an informed decision on the issue of filing an appeal. The Commission further assured the public that NOTHING will undermine or deter its mandate to ensure that the corrupt in our society are brought to book.

The ACC’s reaction to the verdict was acerbic. According to the pro-SLPP New People online in an article written by Abdul Fonti and entitled ‘ACC Prosecutors wept in open court’,  the Commissioner disclosed that his prosecutors wept openly in court today when the High Court handed down a verdict against the Commission.  According to the article, Commissioner Kamara described the judgment by the High Court as a sad moment for justice in Sierra Leone. He is quoted as saying “It is such a difficult experience for the Commission in light of the weighty evidences that was presented to the court,’.

As always, the Commissioner cast the blame for the acquittal verdict on the judiciary. The Court has decided on the matter it is now left for the court of public opinion to give its own verdict on the matter. The ACC Boss did not mince his words when he pointed out that his ‘confidence in the justice system in Sierra Leone has been shaken to the core’. He said the Commission prefers a separate judicial system to specifically be looking at corruption matters, rather than continuing under the current judicial set up.

Joseph Kamara is spot on. The fact that judiciary is corrupt is not news. In its report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission stated clearly and categorically that ‘corruption in the judiciary… was rife’. It further stated that institutions such as the judiciary… had become mere pawns in the hands of the executive. Yet with the same ‘corrupt’ judiciary, the ACC prior to Joseph Kamara’s accession to the office of Commissioner used to do a great job convicting people. On the Commission’s website, it points out that in 2010, before Kamara was Commissioner, the ACC convicted the following:

Summary of ACC Convictions in 2010

 No.

 Name

 Offences

Date Convicted 

 1.

 David Lewis Walker
(Coordinator School Feeding Project)

 Misappropriation of Public Funds

 2nd March 2010

 2.

 Joe M. Seiwoh – Procurement specialist (MOD)

 Abuse of office, Abuse of position & Using office for advantage

 18th March 2010

 3.

 Idriss Sankoh Kamara – Major RSLAF (MOD)

 Abuse of office, Abuse of position & Using office for advantage

 18th March 2010

 4.

 Sheiku T. Koroma (Former Minister of Health)

 Abuse of office, Abuse of position & Failure to comply with procurement procedure

 11th March 2010

 5.

 Adrian J. Fisher (Vol.1) (Magistrate)

 Misappropriation of Public Funds

 10th June 2010

 6.

 Alimu Bah (Secretary-General SLFA)

 Misappropriation of Public Funds

 17th June 2010

 7.

 Haja Afsatu Kabba (Former Minister of Fisheries & Marine Resources)

 Misappropriation of Public Funds/Abuse of office – convicted on Misappropriation of Public Funds

 12th October 2010

 8.

 S.K. Huggins (Civil Servant)

 Misappropriation of Public Funds

 15th October 2010

 

In one year, the ACC convicted 2 sitting Government Ministers including the powerful and influential, Afsatu Kabba. It not only convicted Ministers but it also tried to address the corruption issues in the Judiciary. It convicted the popular Magistrate, Adrian Fisher and got two judges, Alusine Seisay and Allan Halloway suspended.

Since Kamara took up office, he has been unable or unwilling to match this feat. He amended the indictment of former NRA Commissioner General, Alieu Sesay by increasing the number of counts to 57. He was acquitted on all 57 counts. He charged the former Mayor of Freetown, Herbert George Williams on 25 counts of corruption charges ranging from conspiracy to commit corruption offence, failure to pay PAYE tax and NASSIT contributions, misappropriation of public revenue, wilfully failing to comply with the laws relating to the procurement of services and other related offences. He barely managed to get a conviction on the last two counts 24 and 25. Under his watch, the Appeal Court overturned the Appeals of John Mans and SLRTA boss Sarah Bendu. It lost the case against Gibril Massie Bah and others and also the case against Alpha Turay, former bursar of the Sierra Leone Muslim Brotherhood secondary school in Makeni.

The ACC prosecutions have at best been sloppy and at worse inept. A clear example was the case against Mohamed Allie Shaaban of WAKA FAST CONSTRUCTION COMPANY. Shaaban was indicted and dragged to court by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on a one count charge of misappropriation of public revenue amounting to Le800,000,000.00 (eight hundred million Leones) allegedly being payment for construction of market and shop center at Fisher Street. In his verdict, Justice Katutsi explained: “The Company did not construct the market and shop center. Evidence abounds to show that this failure was not due to the default of the company. The site at which the market was to be constructed was occupied by squatters and tenants who had to be evicted and relocated elsewhere by the government.’ Justice Katutsi continued ‘By the time these charges were preferred on the 9th accused, the squatters and tenants had not been evicted. They had stayed put. And now the Anti-Corruption Commission in their immense wisdom has pressed charges against him. They say and would like court to convict him of all offences including misappropriation of even money that was deducted as tax! Well, wonders never cease to happen! …Unfortunately, a whole cabinet minister has been dragged in this ungodly affair and ordered the 9th accused to return the money including the sum that was withheld as tax. What justice! …..In my humble opinion and judgment, the 9th accused is not being prosecuted. He is being persecuted for engaging in lawful business. This to say the least is very unfortunate. Charges against him are hereby dismissed with all the contempt it deserves. He is accordingly acquitted”.

Katutsi’s judgment and sarcasm was a damning indictment on the ACC and Kamara in particular. Judges cannot be expected to convict when the prosecution is amateurish and second-rate. Kamara spends half of his time pandering to the media and spinning cases. The other half he spends politricking. He has openly declared his intention to contest for the presidency in 2017 in clear breach on the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act which prevents the staff of the Commission from having any political affiliation or declared interest. He cannot successful prosecute corruption case but aspires to become Attorney-General and President of Sierra Leone. After his latest tirade, he is unlikely to ever get any sympathy from any judge. The fight against corruption has retrogressed under his leadership. It is high time he takes the moral high road and quit.

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