Anti-Corruption Chief, Francis Ben Kaifala Engages Students And Lecturers on The Fight Against Corruption
As he continues to engage the public in what is a demonstration of his commitment to public accountability, the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Francis Ben Kaifala, has engage over five hundred (500) University Students, school pupils, Administrative and Academic staff, and staff of some public sector institutions in the South, at the Njala University Great Hall, Torwama, Bo Campus in an instructive and educative lecture
The ACC Commissioner described the topic of the lecture ‘’The Rule of Law Vs. the Fight Against Corruption: Delineating the Jurisprudential Province of the Corruption Clean-Up Campaign as the Centerpiece for ensuring Justice and Good Governance’’ as opt for the current stage of Sierra Leone’s Socio-political development.
His lecture commenced with the words of Rev. Father Augustine Bangalie, in his foreword to the book ‘’THE HURRICANE’’; The story of Corruption and Accountability in Sierra Leone’ written by Rev. Fr. Gabriel Luseni CSSp, thus; “We live in a society with institutions that exist and ensure their legitimacy by providing the basic needs for the people to live a happy life. Nothing harms this objective more than the absence of accountability which ultimately leads to the moral evils of corruption in the organs of these institutions”. These are the very reason we have to be collectively involved in the fight against corruption as we have no other option, he underscored.
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Commissioner Kaifala also stated that, while a lot has been said and done in regard the Rule of Law, much has not been done to ascertain the “role of law” in our society. He stated that the role of the law is to ensure that no sphere of human relation is left unregulated lest the law will fail to serve its purpose and society will most likely degenerate into chaos. When this role is in place, we can now say safely that the law is truly the rule. Mr. Kaifala stated that without a well-defined role of law, the law would fail to provide the answers to the questions of society; as he alluded that this was already happening in our context in Sierra Leone.
Drawing from the American Bar Association definition of the rule of law, he stated that it is a set of principles, or ideals, for ensuring an orderly and just society; where no one is above the law, everyone is treated equally under the law, held accountable to the same laws, there are clear and fair processes for enforcing laws, there is an independent judiciary, and human rights are guaranteed for all.”
The erudite guest Lecturer tied this definition with the British Jurist A.V. Dicey’s propounded three distinct characteristics of the Rule of Law; Supremacy of the Law, Equality before the Law and the activities of Government must be conducted within the Framework of the Law. In describing corruption on the other hand, Mr. Kaifala stated that it is the abuse of entrusted position or office for private gain.
Relating the effects of corruption to the Rule of Law and Democracy, the ACC Czar referenced Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, who in the forward of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) stated that corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. Commissioner Ben Kaifala stated emotionally that to his mind, there was nothing as systemically destructive as corruption.
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“Our country Sierra Leone just turned 61 and because of corruption we still struggle for some of the basic necessities of life in spite of the fact that nature has blessed us with plenty resources. The chronicles of our history as a nation are engrossed with the bedeviling and gloomy realities of the menacing effects of corruption’’ . While agreeing with human rights activists that the rule of law must be upheld and that the presumption of innocence is a cardinal principle of our criminal justice system, Ben Kaifala stated that corruption itself is a fundamental human rights issue because when it occurs, for example, public funds or property, meant for the benefit of the masses are diverted to a selected few, resulting in the lack of access to some of these basic amenities of life. He stated that, the rule of law itself will never thrive in a nation that condones corruption and celebrates the corrupt.
He therefore argued that, “in as much as we have an obligation to uphold the rule of law as a means of ensuring justice and good governance, if we must indeed ensure justice and good governance then we must confront corruption with the right mindset, posture and determination and be prepared to go very hard on the corrupt. We must not keep our hands overly constrained by the law while confronting a vile and loose enemy who continues to destroy our nationhood. We must emphasize the COLLECTIVE GOAL more than even the individual right or liberty within the framework of the Rule of Law”.
He furthered stated that Sierra Leone was at a stage in its anti-corruption campaign where it needs to be smarter, poised and radical in a collective approach in order to win the fight against the corrupt. Many a time people who engage in corruption have the necessary means to evade the criminal justice system, by way of interference with witnesses, destroying evidence, using part of the media to sway public opinion in their favor, exploiting existing socio-political divides etc. He stated that as anti-corruption campaigners we must find ways and means of outsmarting the corrupt at their game using the very Rule of Law. “In as much as I agree with the age long saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but the lack of enough power in the purview of law enforcement agencies like the ACC will leave the corrupt with more power” he emphasized.
Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala concluded that there was no gainsaying of the fact that the cost of corruption is so high that no society is willing to pay its price. “While it may be possible for a corrupt system to coexist with the functioning of the rule of law, in practice the worse the corruption, the more likely it is to endanger the rule of law. The anti-corruption campaign which we are leading as a nation is not a one-size-fit-all campaign, rather it is a campaign and a fight that is contextual and it must therefore be shaped by our context and the tactics of the corrupt. The demand is really no longer one of applying a collection of more or less technocratic solutions, rather it is how we must develop nuanced sets of possible remedies that ‘fit’ our context” the ACC Chief stated. He told the young people of this country that they have a huge role to play. In the words of renowned songwriter Kurt Cobain Mr. Kaifala said; “the duty of the youth (or young people) is to challenge corruption”…. “I now throw that challenge to you today; and we must start by delineating the boundaries that belie both the rule of law and the campaign against corruption while prioritizing that which challenges our collective interest most” he ended.