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Sierra Leone News: President Bio’s assets remain a secret

Almost three months after assuming office, Present Julius Maada Bio filed his Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Declaration of Assets (DOA) form on Thursday 28 June 2018. The declaration will remain confidential and secret, however, under Subsection 13 of the ACC Act.
The Act makes provision for the confidentiality of the declaration of assets in Subsection 13, which reads, “Subject to this Act, the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Directors and other persons having an official duty under this Act, or being employed in the administration of this Act, shall deal with all documents and information, and all other matters relating to a declaration under this Part, as secret and confidential, except where a particular declaration or record is required to be produced for the purpose of, or in connection with any court proceedings against, or inquiry in respect of a declarant under this Act, the Commissions of Inquiry.”
The confidential declaration was administered before the newly appointed ACC Commissioner, Francis Ben Kaifala, and the Deputy Commissioner, Sholay Davies. The filing of the declaration was carried out at State House and witnessed by select members of the ACC Commission and Chief Minister, Francis.
Section 119 of the ACC Act of 2008 provides, “Every public officer shall within three months of becoming a public officer deposit with the Commission a sworn declaration of his income, assets and liabilities and thereafter not later than 31st March in each succeeding year that he is a public officer, he shall deposit further declarations of his income, assets and liabilities and also while leaving office”.
After the President’s declaration, the ACC Commissioner cited the confidentiality provision of the Act adding that the documents will be treated that way. “That is the law and we have to follow it,” Kaifala said.
According to the SLPP’s election manifesto, “We will review within the first 100 days the ACC Act to include the publication of all asset declaration forms of all public officials before they take office and upon leaving office.”
Press Secretary, Yusuf Keketoma Sandi, said the declaration of the President has not been made public because… “The law has not been reviewed and it still contains the section that states that asset declarations should be kept in confidential and secret.”
He added, when the Act is amended… “The declaration will be made public. We are acting within the Constitution and law that is why the declaration has not been made public.”
After his confidential declaration, President Bio said he is grateful to have gone through the process. He said he has set the pace for other officials to follow.
The Declaration of Asset (DOA) process includes the presentation of a DOA form, which has a serial number that is recorded in the Commission’s records. A receipt will be issued with a corresponding serial number. The public official will sign the ACC records and the ACC will sign the receipt. One copy of the DOA form will be secretly filed with the ACC and another copy is returned to the public official for their records.
BM/28/6/18
By Betty Milton
Friday June 29, 2018.

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