“We believe that the fight against corruption is a civic responsibility which communities must embrace in order to support the Commission in liberating Sierra Leone from the scourge of corruption”. This statement was made by Chief Foday Dukuray, Town Chief of Samie 1 Community, Seiwa Section, Tikonko Chiefdom, Bo District, during a sensitization meeting organized by the Southern Region office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). The meeting was organised for both Guabu and Samie 1 communities on 1st July, 2022.
Chief Dukuray said that as traditional leaders they do not only have the moral obligation to maintain law and order at community level, but similarly to take ownership of the fight against corruption by abstaining from illegal practices militating against justice, peace and the peaceful co-existence of members of his community.
Southern Region Manager of the ACC Momodu Sittar, described corruption as an obstacle to development, where public officials in position of trust to manage State resources tend to misuse State resources meant for the benefit of all. He said even though corruption is a threat to everyone, it harms poor people more, as resources meant for health, education, and other social services are diverted into the pockets of the corrupt. “This deprives the poor from accessing these services,” he said. Mr. Sittar therefore called on residents of the communities to demand accountability and transparency from their leaders with regards the implementation of both Government and Donor projects.
Mr. Sittar explained some of the corruption offences and their accompanying punishments contained in the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019.
Senior Public Education Officer, ACC, Abdulai Saccoh, enlightened indigenes of Guabu and Samie 1 communities on the formulation and use of bye-laws for the promotion and maintenance of peace in both communities. He advised traditional leaders and other community stakeholders not to be selective in dispensing and implementing bye-laws.
Mr. Saccoh further explained a number of practices which he said can amount to acts of corruption including, indiscriminate fines, soliciting bribes, abuse of discretionary power, misuse of school fees subsidy, extortion for bail, improper handling of chiefdom funds, mishandling of medical equipment and free health care drugs.
In his statement, ACC’s Public Education Officer, Mohamed A. Kabba, said the meeting was to increase their knowledge on corruption issues, how they can identify and address the many problems that have plunged communities into chaos and disorder over time. He guaranteed them of informant protection, and shared the Commission’s toll free numbers of 077-985-985/077-986-986 to report any suspected cases of corruption to the ACC.
Residents of the communities appreciated the Commission for increasing their knowledge on corruption-related issues especially in the health and the education sectors. They promised to join hands with the Commission to prevent, suppress and eradicate all forms of corrupt practices in their communities.
Prior to the community engagement, the ACC team sensitized staff and pupils of the Kate McCrath School for Girls in Samie 1 community on illegal practices in schools, offence of academic malpractice and issues of integrity, accountability and transparency.