The Public Education and External Outreach Unit of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s office in the Northern Region of the country has, on 25th April 2023 held an interactive meeting with top officers of the Sierra Leone Correctional Services at the office of the Regional Commander in Makeni. The customized meeting, which attracted senior prisons officers from other districts in the Region, is part of the Commission’s tireless efforts to collaborate, coordinate, and support Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to repel corruption and raise the bar for transparency and accountability in public service delivery.
Speaking at the event, Aiah Sourie, ACC Public Education Officer, stated that although the Commission has well-focused investigations and prosecution Departments, it extensively embarks on prevention methods to control corruption at every tier of the public sector. For this reason, he continued, the Commission savours sustained partnerships with over 40 institutions in the country, citing examples of how teamwork has significantly paid off in the fight against corruption and corrupt practices.
Speaking further to his audience, the anti-graft officer said, the Commission has reviewed the systems and procedures of 14 MDAs and proffered 461 recommendations, 336 of which have been successfully implemented. This represents a 73% compliance rate and serves as a beacon of hope that public services can be delivered with zero tolerance on official impropriety. Assuring his audience Mr. Sourie said, ‘I am pleased to inform you that 2023 is the fifth year of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy which embodies the unified voice and action of Sierra Leoneans to combat graft. The ACC continues to support MDAs to work harder to fully comply with all anti-graft recommendations for the greater good.’
The ACC Public Educator enlightened the officers on the landmark legal reforms with the view to making corruption a dangerous and non-profitable enterprise. He highlighted the weaknesses of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2000 that was repealed, and ushered in the Act of 2008 which also, was amended in 2019. Mr. Sourie stressed that amongst other things, the amended Act of 2019, provided for increased corruption offences and penalties including, a minimum fine of NLE 50,000 and prison term of 5 years. ‘Both such judgements may be served concurrently,’ he concluded.
In his contribution, Lathif Sesay, ACC Prevention Officer, re-echoed the Commission’s focus on precluding the occurrence of corruption in public institutions. In a brief presentation, Mr Sesay explained that the Prevention Department of the ACC is charged with the responsibility to examine the structures and processes of public bodies to identify corruption vulnerabilities and then proffer recommendations to tackle those unguarded areas for effective and efficient service delivery. He furthered that, the Department is made up of three units-systems review, policy and ethics, and monitoring and compliance units.
In response to the anti-graft messages, the Regional Commander for the Northern Region, Christian L. Sisay, who also chaired the meeting, thanked the ACC for its commitment to fighting corruption. He pledged on behalf of his colleagues to continue to support the work of the ACC, adding ‘I happy and thankful that other senior officers from Magburaka, Kabala, and Mafanta have benefited from this interactive meeting. I urge them to share their experiences with their colleagues upon return to their respective posts.’
The meeting ended with a question-and-answer session and a handing over of ACC Newsletters to the Regional Commander and Officers-in Charge from other correctional centres in the region.