By Sulaiman B. Sowa
As it strives to sustain robust public education and collaboration with public institutions, the Eastern Region office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has engaged staff of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and made calls for integrity and commitment to enforce environmental policies. The meeting was held at the EPA Office in Kenema on the 26th April 2022.
Senior Public Education Officer of the ACC, Sulaiman B. Sowa, said integrity reinforces commitment and dedication to work without consideration for rewards. He said the engagement was meant to single out systemic vulnerabilities in policies and procedures, how they could be exploited corruptly and how integrity will help in addressing such weaknesses.
Mr. Sowa encouraged the EPA staff to take cognizance of the fact that enforcing policies comes with many external temptations including bribery and gifts to dissuade them from enforcing environmental policies. He said it is therefore necessary as a best practice to inculcate the values of integrity which immune them from bribery and help them in making a clear distinction between their professional and private life.
While explaining some of the key provisions of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019, Quinton David, Investigation officer, said that Section 7 of the Act gives the Commission the powers and responsibilities to do everything necessary to prevent corruption. He explained the offences of Unexplained Wealth, Offering, Soliciting and Accepting Advantage, Abuse of Office/Position and Accepting Gifts for a corrupt purpose. He specifically emphasized on bribery and gift which he says are offences liable to be committed by enforcement agencies, cautioning that officers of EPA must resist all forms of gifts especially when enforcing policies.
Responding on behalf of the Regional Head of the EPA officein Kenema, Information Education and Communication Officer Willie Sylvanus Collier said that the engagement helped enlighten them a lot on the content of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019 and issues of integrity. He added that whilst the key offences highlighted did not imply commission in their office it is important that EPA staff treat them with utmost seriousness. He said as an agency, they have been monitoring and enforcing compliance in respect to environmental issues within their mandate without consideration for bribes or any rewards. He noted that the engagement serves to embolden their resolve in regulating environment policies and enforcing compliance to ensure a sustainable environmental management and protection. He pledged their continued commitment and dedication to imbibing the values of integrity.