A welcome ACC move that entails a lot more to do

THE Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation of its officers and employees on charge of their engagement in corruption and irregularities leading to departmental cases — although this is not for the first time such efforts are taking place — is heartening. The commission took departmental action against 28 of its personnel for taking bribe and committing other irregularities from 2004 to 2014. The commission has served show-cause notices on at least 800 officers for various irregularities since March. In addition, the commission has also launched inquiries of 10 of its officers for possessing illegal wealth and committing irregularities. The 13 personnel in question, as New Age reported on Monday, are reported to have taken bribe, dropped names of people accused of committing corruption, lobbied for stopping transfers in government offices, extorted money from businesspeople promising them that their names would be dropped from commission notices which were forged and even engaged influential people to stop their own transfer. What is disconcerting is that some of the 13 people have committed irregularities even after they were previously punished for some offences that they had committed earlier. In view of the situation, the commission’s effort to purge itself of bad elements in encouraging.
But what remains deplorable is that some of the 13 personnel the commission is investigating are facing criminal cases filed by law enforcement agencies or entities outside the commission. The situation is grave enough as the commission fighting against corruption cannot have officials engaged in corruption. Because, if its investigations and relevant chores are run by corrupt officials, public trust and confidence in the commission would fall, putting it in a place where it would lose the moral strength in its fight against corruption, having serious bearings on both society and governance. If the commission, therefore, wants to stem the rot, it should, after proper trial of the suspects, do away with its tainted personnel, more so in cases of those who committed financial corruption. Retaining officials after being convicted of corruption and irregularities is no rare incident in public offices. And this must not take place in the commission. As law enforcers with tainted records cannot, and should not, keep law; so should be the case with tainted anti-corruption officials. The situation also points to a weakness, if not a flaw, of the Anti-Corruption Commission in its organisational oversight of its own officials. The commission should increase its capacity for organisational monitoring and further look into whether there are others engaged in corruption and irregularities as part of an ongoing process.
The commission, under the circumstances, must put in more efforts in organisational oversight and the government, therefore, must arm up the commission with what it needs to put in place such a mechanism for fight against corruption to be meaningful and for public trust in the commission to increase. But as for the case at hand, the commission must, after proper trial, punish the offenders and dispense with personnel proved guilty. Combat against corruption would remain elusive as long as all these issues are not effectively sorted out.

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