By Kalilu I. Totangi.
Opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) pundits have been in overdrive in the last week or so, deriding President Julius Bio for relieving the bow-tied former Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Ady Macauley Esq from a position he had no business occupying in the first place. They contend that the President’s action in removing Mr. Ady Macauley is in contravention of portions of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Act (2008).They point specifically to Section 4 of the Act, which deals with the Tenure of Office of the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner.
One of these born-again rule of law proponents, himself a former ACC Commissioner and former Attorney General and a well-known godfather of the deposed Ady Macauley, ventured that his protégé cannot be removed from his office unless “by approval by a two-third majority in Parliament”, following a recommendation of a “tribunal” appointed by the President. I cannot pretend to be a lawyer like him, but yours truly can also read text. And thankfully, another of those upset pundits, a former Cabinet Minister and some wanna-be journalist and proprietress of a local tabloid, published Section 4 of the Act in her tabloid, Friday, June 22, perhaps by way making cynical reference to the matter.
Section 4(4) of the Act notes: “the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or for stated misconduct”. Section 4(5) goes on: “If it is represented to the President that the question of removing the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner under subsection (4) ought to be investigated, then the President shall appoint a tribunal”. The composition is also advised in subsection (5).
I am not a lawyer so I am not pretending to be making a legal case here, but certainly there is a public interest in this matter, so I’ll stick with that. As I have noted already, Mr. Macauley had no business being Commissioner of ACC in the first place. He was only a product of a nefarious effort by the Ernest Koroma administration, craftily contrived by Mr. Joseph Kamara Esq and others, to put a puppet and a lackey in place at the ACC, so as to enable them loot the state with impunity.
Since Ady Macauley was installed at the ACC in March 2016, the nation witnessed some of the most atrocious and uncultured incidents of corruption perpetrated by some of the most “sacred of goats” (since there were no sacred cows), while he looked the other way. His appointment came only months following the end of the Ebola epidemic which claimed the lives of over 4,000 compatriots, while leaving several thousands of orphans in its wake. The Auditor General’s report on the Special Audit of the handling of Ebola funds clearly revealed unambiguous evidence of unbridled corruption and neglect on the part of several highly placed public officials and cronies of the regime. The so-called Commissioner at the time chose to stand on the sideline while Parliament played rigmarole with the public.
Let us even assume for the sake of an argument that the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991 provides for the Auditor General’s Annual report to be laid before Parliament for action. It is public knowledge that the ACC has a responsibility to at least investigate public complains of corruption at every level. Why did the ACC not at least investigate the series of public complains of outright breach of procurement rules by some officials, including politicians, who the public was aware did pretty silly and uncivilized stuff during this period and reported such to the Anti-Corruption boss? His approach was the same when illegal land deals by government Ministers and other officials opened up a reserved area for settlement. This caused one of the most deadly mudslides this nation has ever seen. Again did Mr. Macauley at least investigate whether there would be any corruption related issues requiring the intervention of the ACC? You know the answer. If failing to at least investigate reported cases of malfeasance by public officials leading to the death of thousands of citizens is not misconduct to Mr. Joseph Kamara, I only wonder what rises to that standard in his view.
But what is more amazing is Mr. Macauley’s loud silence on the way and manner in which a few scalawags, marauding as political bigwigs and their cronies went into frivolous contracts in the name of the state. According to some estimates, these reprehensible contracts amount to the tune of SLL 10 trillion or $1.4 billion (USD); that, in addition to the SLL 4.9 trillion domestic debts accrue from lending with the local banks, and the $2 billion in foreign debts. In addition, Mr. Macauley, as well as his former boss, Mr. Joseph Kamara did nothing when the Koroma administration privatized almost all cash generating institutions in the country. I am sure they know that some of the officials who were supposed to be representing the government’s interest are the shareholders of several of those companies, including National Petroleum. If Mr. Macauley and his benefactor don’t have a lawyerly name for it, I’ll call it conflict of interest or insider trading. That is corruption, pure and simple. Again did he look into it? You bet!!!
Did someone just remind me of the famous Hajjgate saga? Even in the “legal” opinion of this lay-lawyer, that should have been an open and closed case. The evidence was overwhelming, there were known victims who were willing to testify, both electronic and paper files had been carted away with by the Commission. What took him eternity to proffer charges? We all know the answer – orders from above. Could a man who has constitutional cover to be independent but chooses to act at the whims and caprices of an overlord be considered of sound mind? The list of misconducts is endless.
What’s more, in all of their spurious arguments, no one has claimed that the President cannot depose the ACC Commissioner, whom he appoints in the first place. This is unlike the case of the unconstitutional removal of former Vice President Samuel Sam Sumana, where the constitution explicitly states that the President cannot remove his Vice President, for the simple fact that they were both elected on the ballot, but President Koroma still went ahead and dismissed him away. Where was my erudite lawyer friend? Was he the same who was proffering all legal junks about “Executive Authority”? And guess what, when it came to crunch time, he was a no-show. We all know what his incompetence has cost this nation. I guess it is only right that I advise my friend to save us his lawyering on social media for the courts. If he really wants to help his minion, let him instruct Ady Macauley to layoff, because a tribunal would actually lay bare his catalogue of misconducts for the whole nation to see. His level of incompetence and partisan-ball-playing which has robbed us his clients (the state) of good legal representation rises to the height of gross misconduct; worthy of disbarment.
On other Matters:
It appears the overused APC spin machine has recently seen some “carbonization” and has been doing a test run during the week. First there was this scaremongering about an increase in the exchange rate. They decided to hap on the Leone to Dollar rate that has temporarily bumped from SLL 7,800 to a Dollar to about SLL 7,900/8,000 to the Dollar. Then there was also the scare about shortage or hoarding of petroleum products.
I am surprised that the government communication team has not given these APC spin doctors a bloody nose on these issues. First, fluctuations in currency exchange rates is a given in any economy, especially one like ours which has been raped both back and front. The bump itself is insignificant, although the government financial management team should keep an eye on it to ensure that it does not run away like a kite, the same way it did under the unholy watch of Samura Kamara and his successors, where the SLL to Dollar rate increased from SLL 2,900 to the Dollar to SLL 7,800 to the Dollar in ten years.
That is even why I am encouraged by the Financial Secretary’s call for an investigation of the bloated costs of the bogus contracts the former government signed even on the eve of its departure with several cronies and family with portfolio companies. Ten chances to one, these were mere sweetheart deals. Let us thoroughly investigate these shady deals, so that we can unshackle the economy and begin to truly get things in the New Direction.
On the fuel thing, it is no secret that the Koroma administration had made an undertaking with the IMF to remove subsidy on fuel even before the election. What this government must understand is that government is continuity, and that there is no way they are going to wiggle or Maradona their way out of that commitment. So it is best that they effect the preplanned increase in the price of petroleum products and save the nation the much needed resources to address the critical needs of the people.