MORE SOLDIERS ENLISTED IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
ACC sub-regional office in Kono engaged servicemen
Manager, ACC Kono Office, Hawanatu Tejan Kamara addressing servicemen of the 9th Battalion in Kono
The battle against corruption continues to intensify as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) steps up its public education strategy through extensive awareness raising exercises in institutions.
On 6th February, 2020, the ACC sub-regional office in Kono engaged servicemen of the 9th Infantry Battalion of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) deployed in Simbakoro, Kono District during their routine muster parade. As declared by the ACC Manager in the District, the aim of the engagement was to create awareness among the servicemen in the diamond-rich District about the huge drawbacks of corruption and corrupt practices.
RSLAF is a key player in security business. It protects the territorial integrity of the country from external aggression. For this critical role, according to Manager Hawanatu O. Kamara, the army needs a lot of education on the sweeping effects of corruption. Aside from that, the Manager added, the army should actively come on board to prosecute corruption to its nadir.
To impassion the desired effect in the soldiers, Mrs. Kamara said: ‘I am sure every Sierra Leonean has admiration for the RSLAF, considering your role in keeping safe the sovereignty of our country. However, it is frightening to even imagine that corruption has invaded our fine army. Consider the consequences,’ she added on a sombre note.
She emphasized that an invasion of corruption in the army would pose a huge security threat, undermine peace and security and, by ripple effect, derail national development efforts.
Although visibly withdrawn from daily civil life, the army could join in the fight against corruption from within its ranks in upholding integrity, accountability, and transparency, the Manager reaffirmed.
The Battalion was also updated on some of the successes the Commission has chalked up in recent time: the huge cash recoveries made; high rates of convictions secured; properties of persons of interest to the Commission seized and returned to the State, or under investigations. The ACC Team further informed the soldiers that the Commission prides itself on international recognitions, as it scored high on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index and the MCC Scorecard. Both are indicators of 2019.
‘Any corruption offence attracts penalties,’ says Alpha G. Koroma, Senior Investigations Officer (SIO), while addressing his audience. He furthered that, the Commission has toughened penalties for persons found guilty to have committed corruption offences, and that the law is applied to all offenders fairly and squarely.
‘There are over twenty seven (27) corruption offences in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 (As Amended in 2019). As I cannot give you the full gamut of offences in the Act, please note that Misappropriation of Public Funds, Abuse of Office, and Abuse of Position form parts of the offences. It is therefore important that public officials refrain from corruption’ he averred.
The Commission’s Amendment Act 2019 increases corruption offences and hardens penalties. It provides that Examination Malpractice is an offence. And on one count charge, an offender is liable to pay at least Le 50,000,000.00 as fine and/or serve a prison term of at least 5 years. It further guarantees protection of ACC witnesses and whistle blowers, among other new provisions.
Commanding Officer, Lt. Colonel William T. Pessima, on behalf of his Battalion, said the RSLAF as an institution holds high integrity, and so supports the cause of the ACC particularly in Kono district. He said the army is strict and far away from soliciting and accepting bribery.
‘Amidst our many and different challenges, we have kept our integrity intact. For us, the fact that a given soldier shows excessive love for money, we consider that soldier as a security threat and a potential betrayal to the integrity of the Army,’ the CO said.
He however appealed for an upgrade in the welfare of the officers and men of RSLAF as an effort to maintaining integrity among them.
Second Lieutenant Momoh, the only female officer in the Battalion, said the engagement was the first experience ever, and it paid off a lot considering the fruitful interaction with the Commission.