The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Regional Office in Kono has urged the School Quality and Assurance Officers (SQAOs) in Kono to cast off all corruption related practices and uphold virtuous conducts while performing their supervision roles with schools. The engagement which is described as ‘Customized Meeting’ was held on the 15th February 2022 in the office of the Deputy Director of Education at D.O. Barracks in Koidu.
Dilating on the purpose of the meeting, the Regional Manager ACC, Hawanatu O. Kamara, said that concerns had been raised during the Commission’s community outreachmeetings regarding some SQAOs allegedly soliciting 10% of school subsidy at different locations. The manager described such allegations to be very serious and one of the reasons for the said meeting, so that the officers would be reminded of the Commission’s zero tolerance stance on corruption.
Mrs. Kamara described education as “the strongest pillar to develop the socio-economic fabrics of a nation”, warning that “prevalence of corruption in the education sector would be more than an intercontinental ballistic bomb capable of destroying the future of that county”. She therefore admonished them to put integrity at the forefront of their responsibilities in order to put Sierra Leone again on the global educational map as the once “Athens of West Africa”.
ACC’s Kono District Monitor Patrick Hinga George informed the SQAOs about the laudable steps by the Commission to introduce the online Asset Declaration System in order to create a relaxed atmosphere for public officers to declare their assets. He however reminded them to note that asset declaration is mandatory by law and a paramount tool to the operations of the Commission in terms of enhancing integrity, accountability and transparency in public life. He therefore urged them to take all necessary steps to meet the deadline of 31st March 2022 to avoid the wrath of the law.
Mr. George further stated that the Commission remains hardnosed in executing its mandate in order to protect the priceless achievements made so far under the astute leadership of Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. He concluded by entreating his audience to see corruption as a common enemy and therefore, in order to succeed in the fight, it should be fought with concerted effort by all and not just the Commission.
Senior Public Education Officer ACC, Sam P. Gogra also informed the SQAOs of key corruption offences enshrined in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019 which fall within their domain. According to him, the assurance officers must pay greater attention to issues of abuse of office, soliciting and accepting an advantage, failing to declare asset and liabilities, among others. He warned that the fight against corruption is “not business as usual as fines and prison terms have been increased to a minimum of Fifty Million Leones and/or five years imprisonment respectively.
Mr. Gogra ended with a passionate plea to the audience to join the fight against corruption by reporting all forms of corrupt practices using the following toll-free lines: 515, 077-986-986 and 077-985-985.
Earlier in his welcome statement, the newly transferred Deputy Director of Education to Kono District Prince Ngebeh referred to the engagement as ‘a timely event’. He overwhelmingly appreciated the ACC for its tireless efforts to curb corruption and pledged on behalf of his team, unwavering support to the fight against the scourge by rejecting, resisting and reporting at all times. The meeting was peaked with questions and comments, and the distribution of IEC materials.