The North-East office of Sierra Leone’s lead anti-graft agency, the Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC), has on the 15th and 16th February 2022, completed online asset declaration training programs in Kabala, Koinadugu District, and Mongor Bendugu, Falaba District, respectively.
Participants for the sessions were largely drawn from the Human Resource and Information and Technology Departments of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) operating in the two North-East districts.
According to Mariama Navo, the Manager of the Commission’s Northeast office, the training of trainers programs were conducted to increase timely compliance with the bi-annual declaration of income, assets, and liabilities with the Commission targeting public officials in grade 7 and above. This, she emphasized, is in keeping with Section 119 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008, as amended in 2019. The Manager however pointed out that those public officials below the stipulated grade but who bear financial responsibilities should declare as well.
She observed that the Income, Assets, and Liabilities declaration regime which is administered by the Commission is a tool to enhance integrity, transparency and accountability within the public sector and; therefore, is by no means intended to mudsling any public officer or institution. On the converse, she maintained, the process could exonerate a public officer against whom allegations of Unexplained Wealth have been made. She therefore urged the participants to take the training seriously and subsequently share their skills and experiences with their colleagues upon returning to their different offices.
ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer in the region, Abdul Karim Bangura, also encouraged the participants to master and comply with the process, adding that the Commission is determined to deal with non-compliance by fully applying administrative sanctions as provided in Section 122a of the Act mentioned above. A public officer who fails or refuses to conform to the declaration, Bangura highlighted, will be served a default notice, an action which will be followed by withholding the salary of such official, suspending the official for three months, and dismissing the said official. ‘These actions will be effected after the Commission has directed the Accountant-General and other appropriate parties to act accordingly,’ he clarified.
As part of his contribution to the statements preceding the training proper, the Commission’s Public Education Officer in the Northeast region, Aiah P.M Sourie, stressed that victory in the struggle against corruption is principally contingent on integrity, which he described as ‘character traits and work ethics including but not limited to sound judgment and honesty.’ He furthered that integrity is not a one-off trait as it denotes completeness and constancy, noting that public officials should always maintain loyalty, honesty, and fair judgment in delivering service to the public.
Manager Mariama Navo, who served as the lead facilitator of the projector-aided training effectively took the participants in Kabala through every step of the online Income, Assets, and Liabilities Declaration process, while Public Education Officer Aiah P. M. Sourie did same for the participants in Mongor Bendugu.
The training programs were marked by question-and-answer sessions and vote of thanks for the Commission’s initiative to empower public officers to comply with the process before the March 31st deadline.