By Foday Moriba Conteh
In a bid to enhance the popularization of the Anti-Corruption Commission Amendment Acts, the Consortium for Good Governance, Human Rights and Democracy (CGHRD) in collaboration with the Anti-Corruption Commission has on Wednesday 29th January, 2020 held a one day media and civil society engagement meeting at the Special Court Restaurant ,New England Ville in Freetown.
In his presentation, the Public Relations Officer of Consortium for Good Governance, Human Rights and Democracy (CGHRD) Thomas Moore Conteh disclosed that the media and civil society play a strategic role in cascading the ACC Amendment Acts 2019 to the general populace.
Highlighting the amended clauses in the Acts he said Section 76 of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2008 was amended replacing the fine of “three million Leones” with a new fine of not less than “thirty million Leones and not exceeding one hundred million Leones” and replacing the term of imprisonment of “not less than six months with a new term of imprisonment of not less than three years and not more than ten years”.
He further stated that Subsection (1) of Section 89 of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2008 is repealed and replaced with the following new amendment “(1) where the Commissioner is of the opinion that the findings of the Commission on any investigation warrant a prosecution under this Act ,the Commissioner may
- Institute proceedings in court or (b) enter into an agreement with a suspect to
- Refund the amount involved plus an interest of not less than 10% and
- Preclude himself from holding public office for a period not less than three years.
Deputy Director of Public Education & Outreach for the Anti-Corruption Commission, Alhassan Kargbo ,expressed appreciation to the Consortium for Good Governance Human Rights and Democracy (CGHRD) for taking such a move in popularizing the Anti-Corruption Commission Amendment Acts in order for citizens to know the details of the law and the ratifications in it, adding that the Amendment of certain clauses in the ACC Acts of 2018 is to strengthen the Acts in the fight against corruption in the country.
He said the Amendment has granted them prosecutorial powers, created a mandating asset declaration regime and increased their international cooperation.
He said that as a Commission they believed that the ACC Act of 2018 is one of the strongest laws in Africa but they found out that there were some weaknesses within the law, noting that laws have weaknesses no matter how strong they are and these laws are regularly reviewed with the view to strengthen them and that is what the Anti-Corruption Commission has done.
He maintained that there are certain clauses that have been added in the Acts saying Section 89 of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, 2018 is amended by inserting the following new sub-sections immediately after sub-section (6)
“(7) (a) where a person charged with an offence under this Act fails to present himself before the court, he may be tried in absentia, provided that an ex-parte application is made to a judge and an order is given for the Commission to proceed with the trial, against the person charged;
- At a stage of the trail, but not later than the close of the case for the prosecution, a person who is tried under paragraph (a) of subsection 7, may avail himself and present his defense.
(8) (a) Where the Commissioner is dissatisfied with a sentence meted to a convict for an offence under this Act, he may appeal against such sentence in the Court of Appeal.
(b) An appeal under paragraph (a) of subsection (8) shall be done pursuant to the Courts of Appeal Rules 1985”.
He also added that the Commission has also added sections of academic malpractice which he said Section 128 of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, 2018 is amended by inserting the following new subsections-
- “A person who engages in corrupt activity or practice, in a programme organized or conducted by an educational institution or examination body, to confer an advantage on himself or another person, commits an offence
- A person guilty of an offence under this section shall on conviction be liable to a fine not less than fifty Million Leones or to imprisonment for a term not less than five years or to both such fine and imprisonment”.
He ended by calling on Sierra Leoneans to support the Commission in the fight against corruption in the country, and assured them that the Commission has also strengthened the protection for informants and those who assist the Commission in the fight against corruption.