ACC enlists Karina community in the fight against corruption
In a bid to demonstrate its resolve and undaunted strides to combating graft in Sierra Leone, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Northern Regional office, has on Friday 4th May 2012 held community outreach meeting with the people of Karina village in the Biriwa-Limba Chiefdom Bombali District.
Speaking at the start of the meeting, the Youth Leader Mohamed M.B Fofana who chaired the meeting praised the ACC for the remarkable work they have done and continue to do in the country. Mr. Fofana on behalf of the Town Chief Sheku Kamara welcomed ACC staff to their community. He maintained that Karina people had yearned for such an opportunity even though the community initially felt left out in the anti-corruption campaigns conducted within the District.
The Chairman underscored the point that ACC is for the entire people of Sierra Leone and not for just a region or cross section of people. He assured his people that ACC was doing all it could to rid the country of corruption and corrupt practices. Mr. Fofana encouraged the people to feel relax and listen well to the message the ACC staff had brought to them, as it was very vital to the development of the community.
Advancing the rationale for the meeting, Public Education Officer (PEO) North, Fatmata Finda Bangura stated that the meeting was to educate the people of Karina village on the dangers of corruption, and solicit their support to become partners with the Commission in collectively fighting the menace in the country. Mrs. Bangura furthered that the people of Karina were very strategic in the fight, since the community stood a chance of benefiting from Government projects and it also had important outfits providing essential social services to the community.
The Public Educator emphasized that the fight against corruption was cross-cutting, dealing with all categories of the population; children, youths, women, the aged, rich and poor. Mrs. Bangura therefore, entreated her audience to support the ACC so that it succeeds is making Sierra Leone corrupt free.
On the origin of the Commission, ACC Public Education Officer North, emphasized that the institution was set up in 2000 by an Act of Parliament, after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that a body should be set up to fight corruption, so that the country cannot go back to war, since corruption was a central factor that precipitated Sierra Leone’s eleven (11) years brutal civil conflict. Mrs. Bangura also said that in 2008 AC Act of 2008 was repealed in order to make the Commission much more effective in discharging its mandate. As such, the 2008 AC Act granted enormous powers to the ACC notably, the powers to prosecute its cases, stiffer penalties, increased number of offences and the mandatory declaration of assets/liabilities by public officers. The Public Educator noted that with the AC Act 2008, the Commission has been able to quadruple its cases charged to court, and convictions secured in comparison to the years when the Commission operated with the 2000 Act.
On reporting corruption, Mrs. Bangura in the first place entreated the people of Karina to report any suspected instances of corruption that come to their attention. She also assured them of their protection in various forms such as by keeping their details confidential, and also protecting them from victimization and/or intimidation of whatever nature. Mrs. Fatmata Bangura ended by reading out the ACC mobile numbers to the people and told them the lines they would used to contact the ACC, free of cost at all times to make reports or complaints.
Dilating on some of the corrupt practices as enshrined in the AC Act 2008, the ACC Regional Manager North, Patrick Sandi maintained that these corruption crimes covered both the public and private sectors. He furthered that the offences are in Part IV of the Act 2008. Manager Sandi in a very simple way explained to the community people offences like misappropriation of public/donor funds, impeding investment, using influence for contracts, conflict of interest, possession of unexplained wealth, peddling influence, abuse of office/position, soliciting and accepting advantage, offering advantage and receiving gifts for corrupt purposes, as they were very relevant to them. The ACC boss North, added that ACC has done remarkable work in the country and has also scored significant successes in it works by successfully prosecuting high profiled individuals including sitting Government ministers. Mr. Sandi furthered that the Commission has also signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with many organizations, all in the bid to ensure that it achieves its mandate through partnership. The MOUs signed are with SLIEPA, the U.K Government, the Media, Audit Service S/L, Health for all Coalition (HFAC), the Manager emphasized.
The Regional Manager North encouraged the people of Karina to resist, reject and report corrupt acts perpetrated in their community as these practices when go unchecked would hinder development. Manager Sandi reiterated that every Sierra Leonean was vital to the fight against corruption in the country, for which reason the Commission’s presence has been felt in Karina. Mr. Sandi concluded by assuring his audience of the ACC’s uncompromising stance to eliminate graft in the country.
In his contribution, the Section Chief Karina, Sheku Sheriff expressed delight for the visit of ACC and stressed that this is the first time staff of the ACC are coming to their community to educate them on the work of the Commission. Mr. Sheriff invoked God’s spirit on the Commission’s staff as the task was very challenging, when you consider the mentality and the socio-cultural make-up of Sierra Leoneans. The chief encouraged his people to join forces with the ACC so that their community will grow in the areas of quality service delivery and infrastructure.
Giving the vote of thanks, the Town Chief Karina, Sheku Kamara stressed the importance of such meetings and urged the ACC to replicate same in other sections within the chiefdom. Mr. Kamara thanked ACC for the move and assured them of the community’s support to the work of the Commission.
Questions and answers session climaxed the meeting.
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