There has never been a time that one would be prouder to be a Sierra Leonean than now. Considering how far we’ve come from a war-torn nation to one embattled with corruption, being alive to see a time like this when Sierra Leoneans across all sectors, tribes, regions, and party affiliations are resoundingly calling on the ACC to fight against the extinction of Integrity in society is a moment that will occupy a space in my heart till eternity.

Isn’t this what the Anti-corruption commission had been yearning for? Isn’t that why the communications unit is more active than ever before? The ACC knows the role of public refusal of corrupt acts and has dedicated resources to ensure that people know the dangers of corruption and uphold that refusal.

The Dr. John Idriss Lahai crusade started as a personal vendetta between himself and the ACC Czar. Consequently, though Ben Kaifala may not publicly state this, section 80(1)(2) of the ACC Act of 2008 gives the commission power to refuse to investigate issues brought to its knowledge; the reason for his refusal might be that he initially assumed that Dr. Lahai’s procedure or agenda was vexatious. Yes, the ACC can refuse to investigate vexatious or frivolous complaints.

As a result, one may accept that when a man’s ego is bruised, he has every right to be defensive. I share your pain, Ben! But that boat has sailed. Though the end game of Dr. Lahai might prove that you could have avoided this if you listened or to prove that, in this instance, you were incompetent, most of us are prepared to LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE.

Consequently, the various arguments for conferring advantage vs. dissipating integrity have registered themselves as a litmus test for the ACC. Whereas the ACC’s shelter in this academic tornado has been the argument of “using the degree to confer an advantage,” it forgot that it has spent a lifetime of savings and hard work building a luxury mansion founded on “INTEGRITY, IMPARTIALITY, and INDEPENDENCE.”

Undoubtedly, if an Anti-corruption commission spends the better part of its resources investigating and prosecuting financial malfeasance, it simply resonates with the lack of integrity in society. Why should I trust a man who can pay for a phony degree with resources that should build a future for my unborn kids? Irrespective of how educated some of these folks are – those with fake Master’s and Ph.D. – paying for and using an honorary doctorate from a fake university is unacceptable.

Okay, for argument’s sake, let us assume that they never knew these universities were fake; that honorary degree shouldn’t be paid for. Isn’t it morally right for these individuals to go public and apologize for “unknowingly participating” in fraudulent activity? Will it hurt them to do this? Come to think of it, have you read the defense Journalist Ranger did for Tuma Adama Jento-Kamara? He didn’t speak about the illegal university. He refused to inform the public if Tuma would be dropping the title, and neither did he tender an apology for “unknowingly participating” in fraud.

Besides this, there are clear instances of corruption in these revelations as against the position of the ACC. Section 48 of the ACC Act of 2008 talks about protecting public property. It is factual that African Graduate University used the Civil service training college as its campus. That is a transparent scenario of “presumption of corrupt practices.” If the ACC cares less about section 48(b) of its Act of 2008, the public do care.

Lastly, section 87 of the ACC Act of 2008 creates room for false reporters to be punished. I want to believe that Dr. John Idriss Lahai knows this. Commissioner Ben Kaifala has nothing to lose to listen to whistleblowers. Whether they insulted you or not, if their claims are false, you have the power to institute actions, so if Dr. Lahai is saying that there is a need to investigate a quid pro quo – IG Souvula getting a Ph.D. from Mohamed Yamba’s fake institution and the latter getting a contract or whatnot at the Police training college – why not see if there is a correlation.

The excuse that there is no evidence should not be in the ACC’s album. It’s your job to find evidence of corruption. Rarely do we see audit reports providing proof. They mostly point out that something didn’t seem right, and your investigation over the years has convicted or vindicated offices called out.

Let me end by reminding Ben Kaifala of his words, “People think they are incapable of changing a corrupt system, which is the greatest challenge the fight against corruption faces. Systems we’re created by people, so it takes people also to destroy this system, especially when they are corrupt.” Those of us who stand for integrity are ready to change the method of having rogue folks in leadership positions. Don’t water down our zest and trust in your commission because you’re scared to bring down folks in strategic government offices. If you lose it, it might take another decade to restore the confidence reposed in your commission.