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ACC engages social welfare ministry on mainstreaming anti-corruption measures

ACC engages social welfare ministry on mainstreaming anti-corruption measures

In its resolve to mainstream anti-corruption measures in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs, the Northern Region Office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has on Thursday 23rd April 2015 engaged staff of the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA) on the 2014-2018 National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) at the Ministry’s Field Road office in Makeni.

Speaking on the purpose of the meeting, ACC Public Education Officer Abdulai Saccoh described the meeting as strategic engagement in the Commission’s drive to mainstream the 2014-2018 NACS into the Ministry’s annual activity plan; highlight key corruption issues, draw their attention to the adverse effects of corruption and the benefit of  a corrupt free nation. Saccoh stated that the document was the country’s roadmap developed collectively with other pillars of integrity to fight corruption. He noted that fighting corruption required collaborative effort by all state functionaries as it cannot be defeated by a single entity. Corruption is a menace that has rendered most state institutions inept in the delivery of services, Saccoh stated. The Public Education Officer emphasized that corruption does not constitute part of the country’s customs and should therefore not be tolerated. He maintained that the only way these state institutions can realize their full potential was for them to join forces with the Commission and say no to corruption.

In his statement on key corruption issues and mainstreaming anti-corruption measures into the Ministry’s activities, ACC Regional Manager North Ibrahim Kargbo underscored the significance of the meeting and expressed gratitude to staff of MSWGCA for the warm welcome extended to the Commission. Manager Kargbo stated that such attitude was a manifestation of their physical and moral commitment to not only partner with the ACC but also to be active players in the collective fight against corruption.

He disclosed that the 2014-2018 National Anti-Corruption Strategy identified key corruption issues associated with the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs; otherwise considered as system weaknesses such as: entrenched patriarchy, cultural beliefs and practices remaining a hindrance to the advancement of women and girls; slow pace of domesticating international treaties and weak business environment for women’s group as well as fiscal control and personnel management.

Manager Kargbo went on to identify a number of issues that are of concern to the Commission as the country propels towards the post Ebola period. He informed staff of the ministry that ACC was interested in the following information: data of registered children orphaned by Ebola and lined up programmes, number of Ebola widows and vulnerable women groups, data on the number of pregnant girls prohibited from schooling in the Northern Region, noting that the Commission was requesting such information to be better informed on the activities of the ministry and that of Local and International Non Governmental Organizations that are seeking funds on behalf of these vulnerable groups.

He highlighted anti-corruption measures that they should mainstream into their daily routine in order to transform the ministry to a result-oriented one such as: lobbying for enactment of the minimum 30% quota for women to be included in the establishment of the National Women’s Commission; strengthening the coordination and capacity for gender mainstreaming and policy implementation by the National Gender Machinery; developing a comprehensive National Gender Policy; enactment and strict enforcement of laws against domestic violence on women, underage initiation rites of passage for girls; establish a women empowerment fund specifically for education, promoting female entrepreneurship and political participation, establishment of a mandatory free tuition from primary and secondary school for girls and coordinate implementation of the multi-sectoral strategy to reduce teenage pregnancy, constant absenteeism to be indentified and appropriate actions taken, conduct monthly review of the payroll and adhere to establish leave roaster. Manager Kargbo maintained that ACC should not be looked at as a witch hunt institution but rather it has the responsibility to monitor the efficient use of state resources.

ACC’s Investigations Officer, Ishmael Sheriff explained some of the offences that are likely to be committed by public officer such as: misappropriation of public funds/property, misappropriation of donor funds/property, possession of unexplained wealth, offering, soliciting and accepting an advantage, gift, abuse of office, abuse of position and conflict of interest. Sheriff stated that the penalty for the aforementioned offences is a fine not less than Thirty Million Leones or to imprisonment for a term not less than three years or to both fine such fine and imprisonment.

Public Education Officer Augustine Foday Ngobie, in his statement explained how to report corrupt practices, importance of reporting to the ACC, protection of whistleblowers and the benefit of reporting corruption. Ngobie explained the four ways reports can be made to the Commission such as in-person at ACC offices across the country, through letter, via email and telephone.  He read out the mobile hotline numbers and that of the Regional Manager North. The Public Education Officer stated that the Commission’s work hinges on confidentiality for which any information provided cannot be divulged to anyone. He informed them of the 10% reward that will be given to anyone who provides the ACC with cogent information that leads to successful conviction and recovery. He however cautioned staff of the ministry to refrain from making false/malicious report as it constitutes an offence. Ngobie entreated them to reject, resist and report cases of corruption that they may encounter during the course of their work.

Earlier, the Assistant Deputy Director North MSWGCA Mrs. Josephine P Saccoh welcomed the ACC in their midst noting that such engagement will go a long way in strengthening the partnership between the two institutions. She heaped praises on the good work of the Commission and promised on behalf of her colleagues to work within the ambit of the law.

The meeting was chaired by ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer Al Hassan Sesay. Distribution of information/education materials and questions and answer session formed the high point of the meeting.

ACC Makeni

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