ACC EMPOWERS STAFF OF MINISTRY OF LANDS IN KONO
MEETING WITH MINISTRY OF LANDS IN KONO
Officials of ACC and Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning after the meeting
As it continues to strengthen partnership with key public service providers to tackle corruption, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has held a sensitization meeting with officials of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning in Kono District. The occasion was held in the Town Planning Officer’s office, D. O. Barracks in Koidu City on January 4, 2020.
Making her keynote statement, the ACC Regional Manager in the district, Hawanatu O. Kamara, said the Commission places premium on forging strong partnership with institutions in the fight against corruption. It is for this reason, she emphasized, the ACC reaches out to Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to raise awareness about the debits of corruption and the need to urge institutional action to stem the scourge.
Mrs. Kamara further said the customized meeting could not have come at a better time, as allegations are rife about grabbing of government-owned swathes of land within the city.
She opined that land is key asset to Government’s development strides, and as such every effort should be exerted to ensure it is not lost to individuals.
While thanking staff of the Ministry for their work, she implored them to consider integrity as an important attribute in quality service delivery to the public, pointing out that in an instance where public officials work for self rather than the common good, ‘our country will step several steps backwards in terms of development.’
‘I must say here that the fight against corruption demands a national effort. Your institution needs following due practices and procedures as it administers land issues in the district. The fight against corruption is no longer business as usual, as tougher penalties against the vicious act have recently been passed.’
Through the Implementation Plan of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), the ACC, in collaboration with MDAs such as the MLHCP intends to stifle corruption for national growth, said Aiah P. M. Sourie, ACC Public Education Officer (PEO) Kono.
He further disclosed that this anti-graft tool sets out activities, benchmarks, and targets to be achieved in collaboration with lead agencies within a 2019-2023 timeline.
He also furnished his audience with updates on the Commission’s achievements, citing overall cash recovery from corrupt public officials, the recent ten-places upward mobility in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, the increased score in the MCC scorecard, and the Strategy the Commission’s office in the district has to increase awareness about the evils of corruption in the bid to elicit public support.
Edward Nathaniel Blake who also works as the Commission’s PEO in the district said, the Ministry of Lands Housing and Country Planning could easily help fight against corruption by setting up an Integrity Management Committee (IMC) as prescribed in the NACS. The IMC would serve a watchdog role to blow the whistle on any act of corruption seen or suspected within the Ministry, he said.
In response to the ACC messages, Town Planning Officer, Gabriel Abu, said he was very happy learning from the sensitization activity, and pledged on behalf of his colleagues to actively join in the fight against corruption.
Asked about grabbing of land believed to be government or public property on Council Road in Koidu City, Mr. Abu acknowledged sales of the said land to individuals by some chiefs. He further revealed the chiefs claimed ownership of the property and that they had only leased it to the local government.
‘This is one of our challenges as land administrators on behalf of Government. We are also aware that private surveyors who process land documents for individuals in the city do so without making due reference to the Ministry. Sometimes such documents are purported to have been prepared by us. I consider this as an act of corruption’, he lamented.
The ACC suggested holding a radio discussion programme with the Ministry to raise awareness about due process regarding land administration, adding that the preventive strategy is crucial in the fight against corruption.
Questions and answers formed a key part of the engagement.