By: Alex A. Bah
In a community engagement on the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) component of the Social Safety Net (SSN) project of the COVID-19 Emergency Response, residents of Dambu Village, Keimaya Section, Njalahun Chiefdom, Kailahun District, have embraced anti-corruption messages conveyed by the ACC and further registered their unflinching commitment to the fight against corruption. The outreach engagement which took place at the village’s community centre on the 24th May 2022, attracted beneficiaries of the World Bank-supported SSN project, community authorities, youth groups, religious leaders, among others.
Deputy Director of Public Education and Outreach Department, ACC, Abubakarr Turay, informed the beneficiaries that the ACC’s effort is premised on its mandate to prevent all acts of corruption. He said that the Commission’s intervention into this project is meant to provide beneficiaries the forum to report grievances and maintain transparency and integrity in the free direct cash transfer scheme.
Mr Turay encouraged the beneficiaries to use the cash judiciously. “The money can be used to provide food for your household, seek medical treatment when you or any member of your household is sick, send your children to school, and do business or agricultural activities that will bring in more income to your household,” Mr Turay said. He said that is why the ACC will ensure that beneficiaries, who are extremely poor people, receive the correct amount of cash.
Giving an overview of the SSN project, Kailahun District Monitor of the SSN project, Edward Ngegeba, said that the project is a World Bank supported initiative, to alleviate the sufferings of the people, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) is implementing the project, while ACC is handling the GRM component of the project to ensure transparency and integrity.
Communications Officer, ACC, Alex A. Bah, provided updates on the activities of the Commission; high conviction rate, the establishment of the Special Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court with five dedicated judges to sit on corruption matters, the over Thirty-five Billion Leones stolen funds recovered, and the local and global awards and recognitions received by both the Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala and the Commission. He encouraged the audience to report corruption to the ACC using the free toll lines of 077985985/077986986, or to visit any of its offices in Freetown, Bo, Kenema, Makeni, Kono and Port Loko.
Mr. Bah assured the people of their protection as whistleblowers, but strongly advised them not to make any false and malicious reports. He noted that it is a crime that is punishable under the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019.
The Town Chief of Dambu Village, Rowland Alfred Bockarie Soko III, in his remarks commended the ACC for its work, especially in ensuring beneficiaries of the project get their rightful payments. This, he said, clearly shows that the ACC is really working to ensure corruption is addressed. He also thanked World Bank and NaCSA for making the payments available on time. “All of this makes us very happy,” he concluded. Miatta Saffa, a beneficiary of the project, expressed thanks and appreciation for the efforts of the Government, NaCSA, ACC and partners to address their poor economic situation. She committed her support to the ACC by reporting any act of corruption to the ACC through their Community Monitor, District Monitor, or the toll free lines provided