January 15, 2016 By: David Kanekey Conteh
The world is likened to a stage where everyman has a time to perform and demonstrate his prowess, for there is a silver lining in every cloud. It is therefore advised that whenever your time to act comes, do it very well. Is that so with the former ACC boss?
The former ACC boss, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara Esq. took office at a time his predecessor resigned without providing reasons for his action. That could be scary, for any person with a weak personality. It was in this obscurity that Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara in his resilience emerged to face the monster-corruption. During his tenure, we have experienced the transition of the Commission to where it is today. Mr. Kamara built a formidable team that worked in unison making his stay at the ACC a success.
In 2009, before Mr. Kamara took office, Sierra Leone was ranked 146 on the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International (TI); and it improved in 2014 to 119; a leap of about 27 spaces, ahead of countries such as Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Togo and Cameroon, to name just a few. In the Global Corruption Barometer, Sierra Leone in 2013, recorded 84% of persons who have either given or received a bribe. That result had a drastic drop of about 50%, when in 2015 only 41% of individuals admitted to have involved in some form of bribery.
From 2010 to 2015, the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission has enjoyed a variety of accolades of both national and international repute. The ice breaker in 2010 was the International Award from the World Bank which was in recognition of quality service in the fight against corruption. The World Bank applauded the work of the Commission under the leadership of a renowned prosecutor Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, who prosecuted and secured conviction for many corruption cases.
Invariably, in 2011 also, the Mo-Ibrahim Foundation ranking of African countries on good governance presented Sierra Leone as one of the countries that had made tremendous improvements in terms of governance; an indication of the accelerated effort of the Commission as one major institution promoting good governance in this country. The Mo-Ibrahim Index in 2015 also ranked Sierra Leone 25 out of 54 countries in Africa.
In 2014, the Anti-Corruption Commission secured hundred percent (100%) convictions and for the first time convicted someone for the offence of “Possession of Unexplained Wealth”, in the famous NRA/ECO Bank case. During Mr. Kamara’s tenure, the Commission was able to recover over 10 billion Leones; as revenue otherwise would have been unaccounted for.
On a personal note, Mr. Joseph F. Kamara enjoyed a festival of laurels conferred on him as an excellent anti-graft crusader. During his tenure as Commissioner, he attracted several invitations to share his experience and knowledge in the fight against corruption, hosting public lectures at universities and international conferences. As one of the longest serving anti-corruption Commissioners in Africa, Mr.
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Kamara in 2015 was elected member of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption.
In 2015, Mr. Kamara received two prestigious awards from local civil society organisations for distinguished service in the fight against corruption and promoting women’s right in Sierra Leone. In the same year Diaspora Focus, an advocacy group, conferred on him the National Development Award 2015, for “holistic fight against corruption”. Mr. Kamara is also a recipient of the Avon International Award for legal development in the right for women, in pioneering the recognition of “forced marriage” as an offence in International Criminal Law. He was also awarded a certificate by Media Alliance for Business Administration and Development for his outstanding performance in the rebranding process and positive contribution to the promotion of the Agenda for Prosperity.
With all these laurels attached to his personality, it is no wonder that His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma appointed him to serve as Attorney General and Minister of Justice. Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara has always had to confront tougher challenges, starting from his days at the Special Court as Prosecutor, to ACC as Commissioner, now as Attorney General and Minister of Justice. As it was with ACC, so it is with the justice sector, especially the police and law court.
Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara will leave his footprints on the sands of time and he will receive his flower while he is alive. For my University professor would say: “Give me my flower when I am alive”.