ACC meets Restless Development
The Southern Regional Office of the Anti–Corruption Commission (ACC) on Thursday 21st April, 2011 met with the Students Partnership World Wide, now Restless Development, a youth led development agency at their 29, New Gerihun Road office in Bo.
Explaining the purpose of the meeting the ACC’s District Coordinator for Bo District, Anthony Samu said that as part of the Commission’s mandate, they decided to come to the office of Restless Development so that they can educate them on the Commission and its work and hoped that they will learn from the team more about the Commission and its operation.
In his overview of the Commission, the Regional Manager of the Anti–Corruption Patrick Sandi said that, corruption by all standards is evil; and benefits only the minority in society while the majority of grass roots people are left impoverished.
Mr. Sandi noted that the Commission, cognisant of the adverse effects of corruption leaves no stone unturned in its effort to rid the nation of corruption. That is why, he said the Commission educates, prevents and confronts.
In preventing corruption, Mr. Sandi noted, the Commission carries out a Review of Systems and Processes operating in Ministries Departments and Agencies. The essence of the review is to look at the vulnerabilities, loopholes and opportunities of corruption that exist or are created by these systems and make recommendations for best practice. He added that these recommendations are followed through or monitored to ensure compliance. He explained the penalties that follow non–compliance to the implementation of these recommendations.
Patrick Sandi told the gathering that the 2000 Act that gave birth to the Commission had nine corrupt practices but in the 2008 Act, the corrupt practices were increased to twenty-seven with stiffer penalties. He said that with the new Act, the Commission now prosecutes its own cases without reference to the Attorney General’s office. He noted that this has seen the Commission becoming more robust in its approach to fighting corruption.
He took time to explain some of the offences, and the penalties for defaulters.
Mr. Sandi gave a rundown of some of the cases currently on trial at the High Courts in Bo, Makeni, and Freetown and explained about the informant and witness protection scheme contained in the 2008 Act and assured them of the high level of confidentiality among staff of the Commission. He also encouraged all to resist, reject and report corruption.
Explaining the vision, mission and mandate of the Commission, Public Education Officer Peter Baio Kamara said that the vision of the ACC was to see a corrupt free Sierra Leone in which the socio-economic needs of its citizens are met. He explained that there were days when pupils of primary and secondary schools enjoyed free medical services when they fell ill in schools, and when pupils who did extremely well enjoyed automatic scholarships. These are the days the Commission envisages. Mr. Kamara said that the mission of the Commission is to lead the fight against corruption through public education, prevention, enforcement and compliance for the benefit of all citizens. He emphasized that without the support of the people of Sierra Leone the Commission cannot successfully wipe out corruption.
The mandate of the Commission, Mr. Kamara went on, is to take all necessary steps for the prevention, eradication, or suppression of corruption and corrupt practices; investigate instances of alleged or suspected cases of corruption reported or referred to it; to draft model codes of conduct for public bodies; and to advise public bodies on the adoption of such codes of conduct and finally to prosecute all offences committed under the Anti-Corruption Act 2008.
In his statement, the Regional Coordinator of Restless Development, Mr. Alfred T. M. Navo, gave the background of the organization tracing its origin from the volunteers from the United Kingdom who came to teach in Africa. He said that it began with Schools Partnership and later renamed Student Partnership World Wide; but that name did not capture the kind of work they did. He said the organization’s vision was to assist other students to become local volunteers and that the name Restless Development was adopted to transform the restless determination of youths not only for the good of their various communities but for the nation as a whole. Mr. Navo said that the youths will remain restless until the issues affecting them are addressed. He stressed that they are seeking to partner with the ACC in addressing the issues of corruption as they too are affected. He called on the ACC to involve them in their public education drive and added that they looking forward to a closer collaboration and partnership with the ACC in Bo.
Earlier In her welcome address Fanta Daboh of Restless Development expressed her appreciation to the ACC staff for their prompt response to their request. She said they were engaging MDAs like the ACC to see how their organization can partner with the Commission in the fight against corruption. She noted that the organization is mainly youth led and focused with emphasis on advocacy, governance, livelihood and developmental programmes.
She stated that they are drawing the attention of government to implement programmes they have signed up to and are educating youths about their rights and responsibilities.
Question and Answers formed part of the programme.
Peter Baio Kamara, ACC Public Education Officer, Southern Region
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