By Sulaiman B. Sowa
In tandem with its mandate and the need to prevent and protect government resources, especially in revenue generation, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Eastern Region office has, on 28th April 2022, engaged staff of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Agency (EDSA) in the region on bribery and how it can be prevented. The meeting was held at the EDSA office in Kenema.
ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer, Sulaiman B. Sowa, said bribery is a criminal and corrupt practice and it is committed when a person or entity offers something of value to a public official or institution to influence a decision-making process. It can also be committed when someone solicits or accepts an advantage, which may be anything of monetary value or kind, he said. He said that public officers are entrusted to make decisions and allocated resources to work for government to serve the people. But when public officers accept anything of value (especially money), he said, this is a violation of their lawful duty and therefore commit an act of corruption known as bribery.
Bribery, he emphasized, hinders Government’s development plans and therefore suggested internally instituted mechanisms such as a focus on maintaining high standards of integrity for staff and building a culture of trust so that members of the public and employees can be at liberty to report such cases.
Speaking on the offences in the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019, Investigation officer, Quinton David, said offering, giving, accepting or soliciting of an advantage as an inducement for an action constitutes bribery. He said that bribery is an inducement that takes the form of money and other advantages, noting that gifts are sometimes used as bribes. Mr. David also commented on other offences such as misappropriation of public/donor funds/property, unexplained wealth, bid rigging and abuse of office and position. He said each of these offences carries a minimum fine of Le50 Million Leones and a jail term of 5 years or both such fine and jail term.
In his response, Chief Superintendent of the EDSA office in Kenema Musa Ngevao said bribery is not only a threat to effective revenue generation but undermines the integrity of institutions. He noted that there is no quantification of bribery as what is seen as small can go on to be grand and financially costly on public institutions. He thanked the Commission for the engagement and called on all staff to resist, reject and report bribery at all times.
Meaningful contributions from the audience with questions and answers climaxed the engagement.