The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) continues to engage communities across the country in an effort to raise awareness on and enlist public support in the national campaign against corruption.
In keeping with this prevention approach, the Commission’s Public Education and Outreach Unit in the Northeast region of the country on May 24, 2022, engaged Mayawlaw community in Paki-Massonbong Chiefdom, Bombali District.
The meeting, which was chaired by the ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer (SPEO) in the region, Abdul Karim Bangura, attracted various stakeholders including, the community headman, religious leaders, personnel from the Sierra Leone Police and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, teachers, the youth, executive members from Biker Riders’ Union, and Women leaders.
Delivering his keynote statement, SPEO Bangura, after having thanked everyone for being at the meeting, called for active participation in discussing corruption as a cardinal threat to the development of the country. Bangura outlined the crippling effects of corruption, stressing that the scourge prevents Government institutions from giving adequate and quality service to the public, adding that, ‘the threat hampers Government’s efforts to generate much needed funds to deliver on its mandates to the citizenry.’ In effect, corruption indiscriminately affects every citizen ‘and this is why we must all actively support the ACC in leading the fight to liberate our country from corruption,’ he pleaded.
The Senior Officer further informed the residents of Mayawlaw that corruption refers to the misuse of public office for private gain, and as such entails putting self above national interest. Rhetorically asking his audience whether self should supersede national interest, he encouraged the stakeholders to serve altruistically and take the lead in the fight against corruption in their community. ‘If you take a genuine position to undo corruption, your people will follow your fine example and your community will prosper,’ Bangura said, reassuring the meeting of ACC’s support at all times. He then cited instances of corruption in rural setting such as exorbitant Local Court fines and bribery, and encouraged the attendees to report corruption to the Commission using the toll-free lines 077985985, or 077986986 on Africell network.
In his contribution, Public Education Officer (PEO), Aiah Sourie, made a statement germane to reforms to the Anti-Corruption law in the country. He explained that the anti-graft laws have been toughened especially since Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. took the reins of the Commission in 2018 in order to make corruption a distasteful venture even for the most audacious. The PEO particularly referenced the 2019 amended Anti-Corruption Act, pointing out that upon conviction for a count of corruption offence a minimum of Le 50,000,000 is levied and/or a minimum imprisonment term of five years. He added that the amendment provides that a public officer who pays back public money as recovery does so with a 10% interest.
Mr. Sourie furthered that, prosecution against corruption under the amended Act can be carried out in absentia, among other things. This, he stressed, means that there is no running from the law as the Anti-Corruption Division within the High Court of the country pursues justice on behalf of the State and the citizenry. Concluding, Sourie implored the meeting to abstain from and boldly report corruption as a sign of true patriotism.
In response to the anti-corruption messages, the headman of the community, Hassan Thullah, said the engagement was informative and empowering as it enlightened him and his community people on corruption and the Commission’s tough stance to rid the country of it. He confessed that the ACC was indeed an institution that is determined to improve the lives of every citizen by combating corruption and, ‘I pledge that my entire community will fully cooperate with the Commission.’
The religious leaders, Women leaders, and the Youth Chairman of the community also decried corruption and commended the work of the ACC in the country.
The meeting ended with a question - and- answer session after which Information Education and Communication materials on corruption were handed over to the headman of Mayawlaw community.