MENA HILLS, MAKENI
SIERRA LEONE, WEST AFRICA
In a bid to ensure compliance with the recommendations of the Commission after reviewing practices and procedures of the Water Sector, the Northern Regional office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has on Thursday 10th September 2015 engaged staff of the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO) in Makeni to discuss key corruption issues.
Dilating on the key corruption issues in the report and mainstreaming anti-corruption measures into the operations of SALWACO, Senior Public Education Officer Al-Hassan Sesay underscored the importance of the meeting, noting that it was not intended to instill fear but to guide them in their day to day operations so that they will do their work devoid of corruption. He lamented that most government institutions are in a deplorable state today due to corruption but encouraged staff of SALWACO enhance transparency and accountability in their operations. He characterized corruption as petty and grand but noted that the Commission does not look at the amount involved but the offence committed. The Senior Public Education Officer catalogued some of the key corrupt practices bothering on SALWACO Makeni which formed part of the findings in the report. They included: no evidence of payment made to the bank for SALWACO services, no evidence of payment of withholding taxes and NASSIT deductions to the appropriate authorities, no fixed register for coding of assets, no evidence of transparent allocation and utilization of fuel, and no proper documentation for all the services delivered and payment received. Sesay ended by warning staff of SALWACO to desist from such corrupt activities as they constitute punishable offences with huge consequences.
Speaking on some of the offences and penalties as enshrined in the 2008 AC Act, ACC Senior Investigations Officer, Mr. Joseph Bockarie Noah drew the attention of SALWACO staff to the existence of twenty seven offences in part IV of the Act. Noah explained the various offences that are likely to be committed by public officers such as: corrupt acquisition of wealth; possession of unexplained wealth; offering, soliciting and accepting advantaged; influencing a public officer; bribery, misappropriation of public funds/property; misappropriation of donor funds/property; abuse of office; abuse of position; receiving gift for a corrupt purpose; protection of public property and revenue. Noah further explained the penalty for each of the aforementioned offences which he said was a fine not less than thirty million Leones or to imprisonment for a term not less than three years or to both fine and imprisonment. He also talked on offences relating to asset declaration, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit corruption offence and impersonation noting that the penalty for each of them is prescribed in the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act.
Explaining the rationale for the engagement, ACC Public Education Officer Augustine Foday-Ngobie drew their attention to specific pages of the recent systems review report on the Water Sector relating to SALWACO Makeni office and urged them to implement the recommendations without further delay, failure which could amount to non-compliance and punishable offence as enshrined in the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act. He described the engagement as one aimed at creating synergy between ACC and SALWACO to enhance transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery. The Public Education Officer said the meeting was part of the Commission’s daily routine to spread anti-corruption messages and enlist public support in fighting corruption. He implored staff of SALWACO to refrain from corrupt practices and enhance service delivery.
Touching on the role of SALWCO staff in the fight against corruption, Foday-Ngobie underscored the point that it is a national responsibility of every Sierra Leonean to fight corruption and ensure that they resist, reject and report any act of corruption to the Commission. He assured his audience of informant protection as information provided to the ACC will not be divulged to anyone. He cautioned them to abstain from making false/malicious report as that constitutes indictable offence. The Public Education Officer encouraged all present to reach the Commission at anytime with report of corrupt practice either in person, through letter, or the mobile hotlines.
Responding, the Acting Manager, SALWACO Mr. John Meel Kamara admitted that findings in the report are true and disclosed that the recommendations are being implemented by management. He assured the ACC that the transformation going on within SALWACO will be reflected in the output of the institution and match up with the expectations of the public.
FIGHTING CORRUPTION: A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY