Leaders fearful that a corruption investigation is closing in on them or colleagues have Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio to thank for coming up with a most ingenious to rid himself of the pesky head of his nation’s anticorruption agency. While the anticorruption law bars presidents from summarily firing the anticorruption commissioner, requiring first a tribunal to find him or her unfit to serve and then two-thirds of the parliament to agree, President Bio neatly cut through this cumbersome red tape with the following missive his aid sent Anticorruption Commissioner Ade Macauley —
Neat and simple: reorganize the commissioner out of a job. One can imagine other presidents worried about a corruption investigation dusting off an old, ignored government reorganization chart or scrambling to have one written forthwith. Philippine President Duterte could have reorganized that nettlesome ombudsperson who was pestering him out of her job, and Guatemalan President Morales might come up with new organization chart that rids him of that troublesome commission head probing him. Who knows, perhaps President Trump may find that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office needs some reorganizing.
The only fly in President Bio’s ointment has been Sierra Leone civil society. The Citizen Advocacy Network, a respected Sierra Leone NGO, complains that the president violated the anticorruption statute and “engender[ed] disregard for the rule of law.” The Standing Together for Democracy Consortium, a coalition of seven NGOs, quickly expressed its concern with the president’s action, reminding him that “the foundation of good governance is the rule of law” and that flouting a statute governing the discharge a public servant is the very opposite of the rule of law.
Sierra Leone has many friends in the international community. They worked hard and long since the end of the savage civil war and have committed significant resources to help the country recover. Might they also remind President Bio of how destructive “reorganizing” the anticorruption commissioner out of a job is?
Ingenious is one way to describe how President Bio found a way to fire Commissioner Macauley. A blatantly illegal act is a more fitting description. Will he get away with it?