15th July 2021
As part of its institutional engagement to preventing incidences of corruption in public institutions, the North-West Regional Office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has engaged management and staff of the Sierra Leone Airport Authority and its subsidiary agencies on various issues of corruption.
Speaking at the meeting held at the Airports' conference hall on Thursday 1st July 2021, the Regional Manager, Al-Hassan Sesay said the Freetown International Airport is one of the major gateways to Sierra Leone and noted that most times negative perceptions about the country are fuelled by the negative attitude of staff at the airport. As an institution, he said, the ACC has engaged the Authority on several issues relating to the fight against graft and particularly encouraged management to have a functional and operational Integrity Management Committee aimed at internalizing preventive measures against corruption in the operations of the Authority.
Explaining key corruption related offences to staff of the Authority and other agencies present at the meeting, the ACC Regional Manager made a comprehensible presentation of offences in the Anti-Corruption Act relating to offering, soliciting and accepting advantage, soliciting an advantage for a public officer, misappropriation of public funds and property, abuse of office and position, influencing a public officer, protection of public revenue and receiving gift for corrupt purpose.
He pointed out that ACC operations are informed by the type of reports and intelligence received from the public including travelers. The ACC Regional boss used the occasion to warn staff of the Authority and other agencies deployed at the airport to be mindful of the anti-corruption laws and their interaction with the public when performing their duties.
Manager Sesay informed them that with the 2019 amendment Act of the ACC, the Commission has been empowered to cancel all contract deemed not to be in the interest of the public or a section thereof, strengthened and narrowed the asset declaration regime, trial in absentia, restitution, examination malpractice as a punishable offence and jail terms and fines increased to five years and fifty million Leone respectively. He therefore encouraged them to maintain best practices in the discharge of their functions.
In his welcome remarks, the General Manager of the Sierra Leone Airport Authority Jack Massaquoi thanked the ACC Team for taking time to engage and sensitize staff on various matters of corruption which he said, will guide their operations and enhance collaboration. He expressed commitment to providing an enabling environment and a conducive atmosphere for passengers. He also recounted the Authority's participation on the Pay No Bribe Campaign and looked forward for more engagements to addressing corruption issues at the airport.
Public Education Officer, Mohamed Thullah who spoke on ethics in the workplace stated that ethics as a key component of integrity regulates the conduct, attitude and behavior of public officers to be professional in the line of duty. In terms of internalizing the fight, he said Integrity Management Committees (IMC) provides a road map to internalizing the fight against corruption in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies adding that, a functional and an operational IMC will ensure strong internal controls to address corruption vulnerabilities in MDAs.
He encouraged them to maintain high ethical standards in their daily operations. The ACC Public Education Officer emphasized that the senior management staff of the Authority are expected to put in place structural and institutional measures that will address the culture of extortion, negative attitude to work, and other illicit payments that have the propensity to negate the image of the airport. Whilst reminding them of the presence of the elite scorpion squad in the region, he noted that the ACC was also very much concerned about absenteeism, attendance, double dipping. He highlighted various methods of reporting corruption to ACC and underscored the central role reporting corruption occupies in combating same.
Giving the Vote of thanks, Betty Brima thanked the ACC Team and said the Sierra Leone Airport Authority has made tremendous effort to maintaining satisfactory performance during this pandemic. She went on to state that as an Authority they have instituted a number of campaigns aimed at operational efficiency, collaboration and to address petty criminality. She added that CCTV cameras have been installed in uncovered areas and pledged commitment to supporting the ACC in the fight against graft.
Question and answer session together with presentation of ACC's information, education and communication materials climaxed the occasion.