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Opinions of Saturday, 11 March 2017

Columnist: Samson Lardy Anyenini

Samson's Take: The corruption fight – the politician isn’t committed!

WHY WE DON’T WIN THE CORRUPTION FIGHT was the theme of My Take last Saturday. I spoke about the almost pointless focus on amending the parent law to re-characterize corruption offences as felonies instead of misdemeanours.

I noted that that major crusade isn’t new and may be needless because, generally, corruption is already punished as a felony (i.e up to twenty-five years in jail as against a max of three years for misdemeanours).

I underscored the fact that the problem isn’t the lack of biting laws as it is about lack of enforcement, and wondered why we don’t seem to have ever resorted to the Government Contracts (Protection) Act, 1979 to fight corruption.

This is a scant but monstrous six-sectioned one-paged law crafted to exact high quality execution of government-sponsored infrastructural contracts and service delivery.

A violation, especially making fraudulent payments attracts a refund of up to three times the value of the contract plus a possible jail term of up to ten years.

I gave another indication why we don’t win the corruption fight with the ritual lip service, and then promised to share practical experiences about how the fear of politicians by some of the best police officers, officers at the BNI, EOCO, CHRAJ, et al work to either weaken our laws or lead to their misapplication and the state’s inability to get many convictions as a result.

I have encountered situations where security officers demonstrated commitment to speed in their work only because they came under some pressure from a politician or had to please a politician or a political party.

Some have conducted themselves, literally, as though they operated from the bedroom or office of a politician to either slow down a case and eventually abandon it or determine the course of a case.

I have realised I am unable to name the characters in these encounters, at least for now, so I will be brief with it.

Two years ago, a top police officer told me in front of a client who had been unjustifiably denied bail, that she didn’t have the permission of her boss because her boss was working on the instructions of a minister who was interested in the matter.

National Security marched its awesome power against a couple vulnerable citizens at dawn, disrupting their sleep and giving them a bad name in their neighbourhood.

They were simply acting on the instructions of a minister whose friend had an issue with these persons. Prosecutors simply couldn’t fight the case in court. But I doubt those who caused it felt any embarrassment how the case ended.

I have heard persons tasked with the responsibility to prosecute offenders ask: “be sincere and tell me if you can prosecute that man if you were in my shoes.

” It is either this criminal suspect or thief and this officer paid by the state to prosecute him both belong to the same political party, or the suspect is connected to someone high up or even low down in the party or some chief, CEO, osofo, etc has placed a call or the fear that they will work against this officer and he/she might lose their job.

Yet I was shocked to the marrow to learn that a dutiful police officer was punished with a transfer for allegedly heckling one of the montie three after one of their contempt sessions at the Supreme Court?

There are those who act professionally and damn the consequences. I encountered two such security officers recently. The boss said “we have done our job and exhaustively on this case.

Let’s go ahead and execute the final act without reference to them.” The partner nodded in agreement and they practically called the bluff of a high political office that had an interest in the matter.

Ugly corrupt political pressure on police officers, BNI, EOCO etc has often led them to ignore or misapply legal procedure and eventually to have eggs on their faces in court where they are often unable to extend their acts of cowardice and impunity. Once we set up a most ridiculous office of accountability at the castle to undermine the AG, EOCO and co.

CHRAJ recently found as a matter of fact that our President had received a personal ford vehicle gift, a gift the value of which is prohibited by CHRAJ’s own code and the President’s own code.

But that was it. It declared he had done no wrong. Mr. politician, cut the public rhetoric and show some integrity privately in the corruption fight.

You too, a big shame on you if you can’t independently and professionally exercise your profession as a police officer etc. You are the reason we have very little to show at 60 years.  

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