ACC meets Biriwa Limba and Makarie Gbanti chiefdoms in Bombali District
The Anti–Corruption Commission (ACC) on Tuesday 23rd and Thursday 25th August 2011 met with the people of Kamabai, Biriwa Limba and Masongbo Section Makarie Gbanti Chiefdoms in Bombali District respectively.
Declaring the purpose of the meeting, the Bombali District Coordinator for ACC, Mr. Raymond Allieu Kamara, said that the purpose of the meeting was to change the perception the public has about the Anti-Corruption Commission and how best they could partner and join in the fight against corruption.
The Commission relies on their different contributions in the fight against corruption he added.
Mr. Kamara stressed that the Commission prefers making converts rather than convicts. He highlighted some of the issues and things these two communities should do if they want to enjoy as responsible citizens and improve on their standard of living and ultimately to succeed as a nation.
Such things are Mr. Kamara went on: the monitoring of Free Education programme for Girl child in the junior secondary schools, Free Health care for under-fives, lactating mothers and pregnant women, monitoring of donor projects for the benefit of the communities that are not used rightly to improve the livelihood of the community members. Mr. Kamara emphasized that citizens should pay their taxes for developmental activities in their communities.
He said that the culture of silence that had been prevalent in our societies contributed greatly to the war, so he encouraged them to talk and expose all ill practices that are ongoing in their environs. He told them to disseminate the message of corruption wherever they go.
In his overview of the Commission, the Public Education Officer, Al-Hassan Sesay of the ACC, gave an overview of the Commission, its establishment, mandate, vision and the three pronged approach the Commission employs in the fight against corruption, which are; Public Education, Prevention and the Confrontation. He further admonished them on the increase in the number of the corruption offences from nine (9) in the AC Act 2000 to twenty seven (27) in the AC Act 2008, which tells you the seriousness of the Commission in the fight against corruption.
He said, the Commission has two faces, the sweet face which is the Public Education, Systems and Process Review and the bitter face of the Commission which is the Intelligence, Investigation and Prosecution. He continued to say that, when the public is informed and have adequate knowledge about the operations of the Commission, it will help them identify what makes them culpable or non-culpable by law and desist from corrupt acts and join in the fight against corruption.
Mr. Sesay went on to say that the Commission is the Commander that is leading the fight against corruption and the public is the infantry or foot soldiers that have to be on the ground to combat the enemy of progress which is corruption. He defined what corruption is, the evils of corruption, and in turn solicited their support to join the Commission to fight the cancer that has eaten up the fabric of our beloved nation Sierra Leone.
Speaking to the members of the two communities, the Regional Manager North, Mr. Patrick Sandi defined key terms in the AC Act 2008 like, Public Officer, Public Funds, Advantage etc. He highlighted some of the offences as contained in the AC Act 2008, Conspiracy, False report, Misappropriation of public and donor funds and properties, Bid Rigging, Willfully failing to comply with procurement rules and regulations, conflict of interest, gift, corrupting a public officer, and some other common offences that are committed in the health and education sector like, illegal admission, paying for report cards, asking pupils to bring items as creative practical arts, to name but a few.
He added that partnership with the ACC will enhance improvement in their standard of living, prevent exploitation from public officers, contractors or NGOs and make us succeed as a nation.
Manager Sandi encouraged them to make adequate use of the presence of the ACC in the North and promised them his willingness and commitment in fighting corruption in this part of the country.
He re-iterated that, no crime is small in the sight of the ACC and the Commission does not discriminate whether you are black or white, big or small, physically challenged or not, so, the Commission needed them on board the fight against corruption for the betterment of “Mama Salone”.
Mr. Sandi encouraged them to resist, reject, refuse and desist from corruption and partner with the Commission because, partnership provokes coalition building. The Manager explained the good will of the Commission and how this will help to wipe out a lot of controversies and misperceptions people have about the Commission as being a witch-hunt.
Talking on how to report, Fatmata Finda Bockarie spoke on the importance of reporting to the Commission, the various ways of reporting, the 10% reward informants receive as proceeds when they report corrupt matters to the Commission, the protection of informants etc.
She talked about the report centre, its operations and how it receives and processes reports from the public.
She encouraged participants to report corruption and assured them of the Commission’s protection and confidentiality. She gave them the ACC free hotlines they could use to report corruption.
In both Chair Persons opening remarks, Paramount Chief Kalawa Conteh III of Kamabai, and Section Chief Alimamy Tarawally of Masongbo, expressed their sincere appreciation to the Commission for considering them as very important partners in the fight against corruption. PC Kalawa Conteh III said, his people should listen carefully to the message and pass it on to those absent and that the ACC is doing a very good work for the benefit of all citizens. He said, the battle is for all and that the law is not a respecter of any one, as ignorance of the law is no excuse. The Section Chief Alimamy Tarawally said, corruption is a sickness and that they appreciate the step taken by the Commission to visit them in their local communities.
Giving the vote of thanks, representatives from each community thanked the ACC for creating a forum like this which they referred to as the most important meeting that will guide them in their day-to-day interactions. They promised working with the Commission as it is their civic responsibility to contribute to the development of the land that we love Sierra Leone.
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