By Jeneba Kemoh
As Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) continues with preparations for the forthcoming National Mid-term Census, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Eastern Region Office in Kenema has, on the 17th March 2021, engaged and called on officers of the institution to resist bribery and uphold the highest level of integrity in the management and conduct of the Census. The engagement took place at SSL regional office in Kenema.
Explaining the rationale of the meeting, ACC’s Public Education Officer, Jeneba Kemoh, said public education and prevention are part of the three-prong approaches in fighting corruption. She said the reports about recruitment for the Mid-term Census have raised suspicion about the process with respect to issues of bribery. “It therefore behooves the ACC to engage SSL to educate and sensitize staff about the relevant provisions of the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act as amended in 2019 and to call on them to reject and resist all forms of bribery in the recruitment process,” she said.
Senior Public Education Officer, Sulaiman B. Sowa, said integrity is the best armory that prevents public officers from indulging in corruption, adding “integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” He therefore urged officers of SSL to uphold the values of integrity, as the nature and purpose of the census requires utmost integrity to ensure that the data generated are accurate and could be safely used to inform policy direction and developmental benchmarks.
Mr. Sowa said the pending recruitments for various positions to facilitate the mid-term census should be free from all forms of corruption to ensure that the right and competent people are selected to do the job. “It is an offence under the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019 to receive bribes, solicit and accept advantage, abuse an office or position and receive gift for corrupt purposes,” he warned. He also stated that these offences carry, upon conviction, a minimum of 5 years imprisonment or a fine of not less than Fifty Million Leones or to both a fine and jail term.
Principal Statistician in Kenema, Momodu Bundu, described the engagement as educative and fulfilling, as it helped in building their capacity.
He went further to agree with the ACC that the Mid-term census requires highest levels and manifestations of integrity, as it was a technical and professional job that requires generating data to inform the country’s population and many other indexes. He assured the ACC they will uphold the highest levels of integrity to repel, resist and reject influences and forces of corruption.
In his contribution on the recruitment process, Ibrahim Koroma, Kenema District Census Coordinator, said the process will be done fairly and based on competence.
He informed the ACC team that recruitment process has vetting mechanisms that will ensure accountability at all stages.