By: Dolly Issa-Public Education Officer-ACC
Francis Ben Kaifala Esq., commonly known by his peers as FBK is Sierra Leone’s current Anti-Corruption Commissioner. The dark in complexion, highly educated legal luminary was born to a humble family.
Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala has contributed to the democratic dispensation and jurisprudence of Sierra Leone through his practice of law. He has won matters in the High Court of Sierra Leone and his practice goes beyond making money. He had made many pro bono representations most of which are human rights issues.
Prior to his appointment as Commissioner of the ACC, FBK led a radical reformation group in Sierra Leone-the Renaissance Movement-Sierra Leone. As leader of this all literate group, FBK pushed for social, political and economic reforms by vehemently calling out wrongs and wrongdoers; partnering with other civil society groups for better public-private partnership for the development of Sierra Leone. Through these activities, FBK was able to reach out to young people in particular, who better resonate with his philosophy for better living and working conditions for citizens regardless of region or political persuasion. He connects swiftly with the rest of Sierra Leone on all social media handles making sure he accommodates all shades of view and opinion about him.
His appointment in 2018, as Commissioner of the ACC by His Excellency, Brigadier (Rtd.) Dr. Julius Maada Bio, was a clarion call that he had to answer given his readiness to fighting for democratic, social, political and economic issues. Upon taking the mantle of leadership at the ACC, FBK’s revolutionary transformative abilities were quickly evident in the many reforms he introduced at the ACC including, amending the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 to make room for stiffer punishments, radical inclusion of women into the fight against corruption by employment, promotion to intermediate, senior and managerial positions, believing that women can better deliver if given the opportunity and in line with recent Indexes calling for leaders across the world to include more women in governance, politics and institutional development.
Before the said amendment, the Anti-Corruption Act (ACA) 2008 did not explicitly provide for the recovery of monies and assets amassed through corruption. Also, Section 89 Subsection (1) of the amended ACA, which previously only made room for persons found guilty to pay fines or serve jail terms, was repealed and replaced with a new subsection which allows for persons found guilty of Misappropriation of Public Funds and Property (Section 36) and Misappropriation of Donor Funds and Property (Section 37) to mandatorily repay the said misappropriated (public or donor) funds or property to the State serving as Restitution. The Commissioner understood that laws have to be strongly enacted and enforced to ensure Sierra Leone has a future generation that will be capable to handle its political, governance, social, and economic issues for better growth.
As he promised when appointed, FBK has succeeded in making Sierra Leoneans understand the meaning of corruption, its damaging effects, if not eradicated through effective public education and prevention activities on corruption.
As a result of these reforms and amendment to the 2008 ACA, Sierra Leone anti-corruption campaign narrative dramatically changed from where it was, which is evident in the gains, accolades, laurels and awards the Commission has received over the last four years, for exemplarily fighting corruption and changing Sierra Leone’s anti-corruption story for the better.
International Corruption Indexes like Transparency International, Corruption Perception Index (TI-CPI), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Control of Corruption Scorecard and others have rated Sierra Leone’s anti-corruption fight favourably than most of the countries within the sub region, making the country a beacon to emulate in the global campaign against corruption. In the last four years, the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission played host to delegates from Liberia and the Gambia to understudy the model and policies that Sierra Leone has been successfully using in the fight against corruption, which has catapulted its image globally as one of the most outstanding countries leading on the campaign against corruption in the World.
Being a people’s person, FBK in line with Article 13 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and Section 10 of the ACA 2008 (as amended), which reinforces the co-operation of the Commission with persons and institutions to fighting corruption has included young people across the country in the fight against corruption through the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs). Recently, he forged partnership with bloggers and social media influencers in Sierra Leone to ensure they willingly and independently contribute to the fight, by condemning corruption and encouraging citizens to resist, reject and report corruption at all times.
Being the Peoples’ Commissioner, FBK has lifted the spirit of his audiences in all public lectures conducted in tertiary institutions in the country, to better understand the reasons why we all should collectively fight against corruption and further understand that the Sierra Leone we all envisage cannot be realised until, we all take up arms against corruption.
Commissioner Kaifala has used his leadership skills to empower others to be leaders. He often urges and empowers the youth to believe that Sierra Leone will not be better if they cannot take a stance now to lead and lead well. He has not only been using words to do this through his public lectures and interviews, but largely by his exemplary leadership qualities and people-centeredness in all his works. As Corry Booker once said: “Leadership is not a position or title; it is action and example”