By: Jeneba Kemoh M’bayo
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) office in the Eastern Region, in its continued drive to muster public support in the fight against corruption, has held a well-attended sensitization meeting with residents and stakeholders of Blama community, Small Bo Chiefdom, Kenema District.
The meeting was attended by traditional authorities, heads of schools, health workers, police officers, local court clerks, commercial bike riders and market women of the Blama community. The engagement provided a forum for the ACC and the community to interface and discuss corrupt practices affecting the progress of their community and how they can collaborate with the Commission in fighting such practices.
ACC’s Public Education Officer Jeneba Kemoh M’bayo in explaining the purpose of the meeting stated that, it is a deliberate move by the Commission to address allegations of rampant bribery in public service delivery institutions. Mrs. M’bayo underscored the importance of the awareness raising campaigns and the need for the people to resist, reject and report acts of corruption in the health, education, police, local court administration and other sectors.
Senior Public Education Officer, ACC Sulaiman B. Sowa said, the meeting was intended to shed light on some ill practices that continue to wreck the lives of Sierra Leoneans especially people in hard-to-reach communities. He said that meetings of this type can serve as an eye-opener and motivation to Sierra Leoneans as they can be armed with enough information to take decisive and prompt actions against corruption.
Mr. Sowa furthered that, public officers owe huge responsibilities to the people of Sierra Leone that they should not neglect. He urged them to be patriotic, duty conscious and responsive to the demands of their responsibilities, as they can be held accountable for their actions and inactions.
Mr. Sowa gave updates on the operations of the ACC; the record recovery of stolen public assets and cash under the leadership of Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala, recent indictments and convictions, the model Special Anti-Corruption Division within the High Court and its impact on the fight against corruption and the public education and prevention strides of the ACC, among others.
He strongly cautioned public officers representing their institutions to refrain from acts of soliciting monies from school pupils for admission and grades, extra charges, abuse of the free healthcare drugs and resources, indiscriminate local court fines, etc. He further encouraged them to serve as whistle-blowers and assured them of their protection as reports made to the Commission are kept confidential. He announced to the audience the ACC toll free lines of 077-985-985, 077- 986-986 and 515.
In her submission, ACC’s Prevention Officer Abibatu Abu-Mattia said, the primary role of her Department is to prevent the occurrence of corruption at all levels. She said that her Department is also helping institutions to identify corruption risk areas and circumstances that are likely to cause corruption. This, she said, will help address issues like monopoly in decision making and resource utilization in public offices, improper revenue generation and accountability.In his statement, the Officer Commanding, Sierra Lone Police (SLP), Blama, Superintendent Osman Mansaray thanked the ACC for the meeting and assured the public that his officers will conduct themselves in accordance with the law. He stated that bail is free and told residents to report any officer that requests for money either for bail or traffic related offences to the disciplinary Department of the police