The first step to fighting corruption is to strengthen the efficiency and independence of the justice system. So much of this fight depends on the relationship between political leaders and the institutions responsible for enforcing and interpreting the law.
Julius Maada Bio had barely been sworn in as Sierra Leone’s president in 2018 when he began sharpening his knives. He appointed a transition team to probe the last administration and this team claimed to find widespread corruption.
Next, he created three commissions of inquiry to investigate the claims further. He also sacked the head of the anti-corruption agency and appointed his own man. Within two years, opposition figures including the former vice president were arrested, their properties were seized and more than 100 of them were banned from leaving the country.
Meanwhile, very little changed in terms of institutional reform. Government audits and media reports show that Bio’s officials simply continued from where their predecessors stopped. His chief minister David Francis, who was removed on 30 April 2021, was the one who led the transition team that declared the last government corrupt. Yet, a newspaper reported this year that Francis’s close aides had been withdrawing huge amounts of cash from…