The Southern Region office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has admonished staff of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning (MLHCP) in Bo to uphold integrity and professionalism in the administration and management of land. The Commission made the admonition during a customized meeting it organized for staff of the MLHCP Southern Region office at the Ministry’s conference room, Tikonko Road, Bo City, on 12th July, 2022.
Speaking at the event, the Southern Region Manager of the ACC, Momodu Sittar, described corruption in land governance as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain while carrying out the functions of land administration and management. He stressed the need for the display of a service charter which contains relevant information on the specific services offered by the institution in order to limit cases of extortion and improper record of survey fees, charges and other revenues received from the lease of state land in the region.
“You should always display high level of integrity and competence in the operations of both your individual and collective responsibility in order not to attract offences and punishments relating to abuse of office/position and conspiracy to commit a corruption offence,” he warned. Mr. Sittar further drew their attention to the punishment of a fine not less than Fifty Million Leones (i.e. Fifty Thousand [new] Leones) and/or five years imprisonment on conviction for such offences.
Public Education Officer, ACC, Mohamed A. Kabba, spoke on some of the key findings in the 2020 Auditor General’s Report, which included lack of policy assessment on leasing state land, favouritism in leasing such land, and the lack of database for state land. He brought to their notice the multiple discontentment and societal disorderliness resulting from the illegal sale of land and land grabbing across the country. He said if corruption is allowed to inject its venom into land administration, it would eventually lead to conflcits, loss of lives, among others.
Giving the importance of the meeting, ACC’s Public Education Officer, Yangie D. Sesay, said forging and strenghting partnership between the ACC and other institutions is a crtitical component of the fight against corruption. She said one way of doing this is to organise customised meetings where the leadership and staff of public instititions are informed of corruption issues commonly reported by citizens and ways of tackling them.
Miss Sesay encouraged them to set up an Integrity Management Committee (IMC) as recommeneded by the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS 2019-2023). This, she said serves as a strong internal control measure to address corruption vulnerabilities in ministries, departments and agencies of government. She also encouraged them to report corruption to the Commission through the toll free line of 077-985985 or 077-986986.
Responding to the anti-corruption messages, the Southern Region Director of the MLHCP, Aruna Bockarie, said “corruption has the proclivity to unleash poverty on citizens in a country, and dealing with such menace in the administration and management of state land is very important”. He lauded the engagement with the ACC and pledged to utilize the knowledge acquired in their day-to-day operations.