The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has in an interactive engagement with education stakeholders promoted the culture of integrity and it benefits to the country's development trajectory. This message was conveyed to Principals, Head teachers, representatives of Community Teachers Associations, secondary schools Board members, Teaching Service Commission staff, District Education Office and Civil Society Organizations in a meeting held at the Bombali District Council Conference Hall on Thursday 20th February 2020 organized by the Anti-Corruption Commission North-East Region.
Delivering her statement, ACC Regional Manager North-East Region Madam Mariama Navo underscored the significance of the meeting, noting that, it was intended to dialogue with education stakeholders on a number of challenges that the country's education system is going through and to seek for active and sincere participation amongst them to restore integrity in the school system. Madam Navo described teachers as the custodians of the nation's future leaders. She added that until the cycle of corruption is broken through conscious efforts by all players, the productivity of the country will remain very low. The Regional Manager reaffirmed the Commission's commitment to working with those who wants to see education progress and punish defaulters who would come in conflict with the law. Manager Navo admonished school authorities to maintain high degree of accountability because it is one of the safeguards of integrity. She implored education stakeholders in Makeni to lead the process of transforming education because good works are always emulated by others.
In his submission, ACC Prosecutor Timothy P.M. Sowa Esq., informed participants of some of the reforms that have taken place in the Commission prominent amongst them is the Anti-Corruption Amendment Act 2019 (AC Act 2019). Mr. Sowa stated that the amendment Act prescribed for an increase in the punishment for corruption offences, mandatory restitution of funds misappropriated, reduction in year-long exit declaration to three months for public officers, allows the Commission to either prosecute corrupt public officers or recover from them all monies they misappropriate plus a minimum of 10% interest and a mandatory exclusion from holding public office for not less than 3 years etc. Lawyer Sowa asserted that the object of the amendment is to strengthen anti-corruption laws so that corruption will become a high risk, low return venture and unattractive enterprise.
ACC Investigation Officer, Brima Sesay said, the Commission has the power to investigate all suspected instances of corruption reported or brought to its attention. Mr. Sesay advanced that corruption is rife in the society because of man’s desire to satisfy himself. The Investigation Officer stated that during the process of uncovering the truth ACC will go wherever the evidence leads it. He dilated on a number of offences that perhaps may be committed by school authorities such as: misappropriation of public funds or property, abuse of office, abuse of position, soliciting and accepting and advantage and possession of unexplained wealth. Mr. Sesay disclosed that amongst the cases that are being investigated by ACC in the North-East Region, the ones dealing with schools make up the bulk. He implored school authorities to adhere to policy and procedures guiding their profession as the law does not romance with offenders.
The meeting was chaired by ACC Public Education Officer Abdulai Saccoh and it was climaxed with an interactive session where participants asked questions and made suggestions.