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ACC takes the fight against corruption to the Lebanese community in Kenema

ACC takes the fight against corruption to the Lebanese community in Kenema

The Anti–Corruption Commission has on Saturday the 28th May 2011 met with the Lebanese Community in Kenema, in a meeting that attracted about nineteen (19) Lebanese businessmen and their business agents at the Lebanese International School Hall, Kenema.  (Photo: Alhaji Alli Hassan, Chairman Lebanese Community)

Declaring the purpose of the meeting, the Kenema District Coordinator for the ACC, Mr. Mohamed Sylvanus Blake, said that the Lebanese Community is strategic to the economy of Sierra Leone, as they contribute immensely to the revenue of this nation through the taxes and other dues they pay.  He emphasized that in the course of running their businesses, they face several challenges, as they come in contact with public officers in government ministries, departments and agencies and interact with people from every facet of life, including the common man. He added that partnership with the ACC will enhance their business and prevent exploitation from public officers. He encouraged them to make adequate use of the presence of the ACC in Kenema. He stressed that the Commission prefers making converts rather than convict of corruption.

Cross section of the Lebanese community in Kenema at the meeting

In his overview of the Commission, the Interim Eastern Regional Manager of the ACC Mr. Peter Baio Kamara explained the three pronged approach that the ACC employs in the fight against corruption, Public Education, System and Process Review; and Intelligence, Investigation and Prosecution. Sound and adequate knowledge of the commission and its operations Mr. Kamara said, will help people identify what makes them culpable by law, desist from corrupt acts and join the fight against corruption.

Mr. Kamara further spoke about the report centre and its operations and how it receives and processes reports received from the public. He said some reports sent to the ACC are not corruption related but that the Commission endeavours to respond appropriately to all reports received so as not to frustrate the effort of those who send report to the Commission. He encouraged participants to report corruption and assured them of the Commission’s protection and confidentiality.

Group photo ACC and Lebanese community members

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Eastern Regional Public Education Officer Mr. David Kanekey Conteh alluded to the fact that there are third and fourth generation Lebanese that see Sierra Leone as their home. Therefore, the progress of Sierra Leone is their concern, and whatever befalls this nation affects them also.  Even though the Lebanese run private business entities, their interactions with public officers and the public make such a meeting very necessary.

Mr. Conteh went on to say that it takes two to tango, and highlighted some of the offences likely to be committed by private business people, such as offering an advantage, corrupting a public officer, using influence for contract, bid rigging to name a few.  He gave them the hot lines they could use to report corruption.

Group photo after the meeting

Responding, the chairman of the Lebanese community in Kenema, Alhaji Ali Hassan thanked the ACC for creating a forum like this which he referred to as awareness raising and confidence building.  He said poetically that the eye has been watching alone, the ear joined the eye, now he is asking the mouth to join the ear and the eye in the fight against corruption by not keeping silent.  Alhaji Ali Hassan lamented over the duplication of the payment of taxes and other licenses to both the central and local government simultaneously, the illegal importation of goods to this country through smuggling as acts that sometimes frustrate them and other issues affecting them.  He called on the ACC to bring these issues to the attention of the government. He promised the ACC that the Lebanese in Kenema will continue to remain law abiding. He pledged the support and cooperation of the Lebanese to the Commission and asked for more of such engagements in future.

A question and answer session formed part of the programme.

By David Kanekey Conteh, ACC Public Education Officer -Eastern Region

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