In its determination to take anti-corruption messages to rural communities, the North-West Regional Office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has on Wednesday 29th September 2021 held a sensitization meeting with the people of Sendugu Town in Sanda Magbonlontor Chiefdom in Karene District.
Explaining the purpose of the meeting, the Public Education Officer Mohamed Thullah said the meeting was to educate the community on the work of the Commission, the effects of corruption on rural communities and solicit support towards winning the fight against corruption. He stated that corruption has permeated every aspect of society which has made public support as pivotal in addressing it. In reporting corruption, he said, confidentiality and the protection of complainants and witnesses occupies an integral part in terms of safeguarding their security and safety.
Addressing residents and traditional authorities at a jam packed Court Barry in Sendugu Town, the Regional Manager Al-Hassan Sesay said corruption has been identified as a major impediment to national development and sustainable livelihoods pointing out the state of affairs depicting neglect and a deprived chiefdom from various social amenities. He pointed out that in a bid to change the narrative and negative trend, it requires a firm public resolve to stand against corruption and the corrupt in society. He underscored the significance of public support and ownership to the fight against corruption as a critical component in winning the fight against graft.
Outlining the nature and forms of corruption in rural communities, the Regional Head said the highest number of complaints and concerns relating to corruption are from the Local Courts administration involving the non-issuance of receipts, exorbitant fines, flagging of disputed land and hearing of cases outside the jurisdiction of the court. He reminded the Local Court officials that the rationale for establishing Local Courts was to dispense justice at the local level and not to be an additional burden on the local residents. He pointed out other corruption loopholes in the school system, the health sector, the Police and other areas of corruption vulnerabilities in communities.
Manager Sesay used the occasion to issue a stern warning to local authorities and residents to desist from corruption and resist corruption demands that contravenes the dictates of the anti-corruption laws.
The Senior Public Education Officer Samuel Junisa Sankoh who spoke on the role of the community in the fight against corruption underscored the significance of reporting corruption as a sacred responsibility on the part of every Sierra Leonean and highlighted the various reporting mechanisms available at the ACC. He explained the protection mechanisms availability at the ACC for informants and encouraged them to report without fear or favour. Sankoh spoke on the 10% reward for informants and warned against false reports.
Earlier in his welcome address, Regent Chief, Pa Alimamy Conteh thanked the team for engaging members of the community on various issues on corruption. He called on the ACC to replicate public education and outreach activities to other Chiefdoms across the region and encouraged his subjects to desist from all forms of corruption. Representatives from the Police, Bike Riders, PHU, Schools and Local Court expressed various concerns that relate to their operations and appreciated the ACC for the guidance and sensitization.
Questions and answers
session, and the presentation of ACC's Information, Education and Communication
materials formed part of the engagement