MENA HILLS, MAKENI
SIERRA LEONE, WEST AFRICA
9th September 2015
ACC TAKES THE FIGHT TO MINISTRY OF WORKS IN MAKENI
In conformance with its mandate to educate and sensitize members of the public on the evils of corruption and enlist support, the Northern Regional office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has on Wednesday 9th September 2015 engaged staff of the Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure in Makeni.
Speaking on the purpose of the meeting, ACC Public Education Officer, Augustine Foday-Ngobie, described the engagement as a step in the right direction aimed at creating synergy between the two institutions to enhance transparency. He explained to them that the meeting was part of the Commission’s daily routine to spread anti-corruption messages and enlist public support in fighting corruption. Fighting corruption he noted is not the business of the Commission alone but the duty of all Sierra Leoneans. The Public Education Officer stated that the Commission’s work is not only limited to investigation and prosecution but also engages in prevention and education of the public on the dangers of corruption and the benefits of a corrupt free society. Ngobie entreated staff of the ministry to refrain from corrupt practices that will destroy the image of the institution.
Dilating on key corruption issues and mainstreaming anti-corruption measures into the operations of the ministry, Mr. Foday-Ngobie underscored the importance of the meeting noting that it was not intended to threaten but to guide them in their day to day operations so that they will be devoid of corruption. He lamented that most government institutions are in a deplorable state today due to corruption. Foday-Ngobie encouraged them to take their work seriously as the Commission considered the service they provide as pivotal to the infrastructural development of the country. He characterized corruption as petty and grand corruption noting that the Commission does not look at the amount involved but the offence committed.
The Public Education Officer catalogued some of the possible corrupt practices prevalent amongst staff of such as: over pricing for building permit, unnecessary delay in the preparation and issuance of permit, encouraging illegal construction of buildings, overpricing of maintenance cost, conspiracy in allocating of government quarters to undeserving people and soliciting and accepting bribes on account of their duties. Foday-Ngobie ended by warning staff of the ministry to desist from such corrupt activities as they constitutes punishable offences with huge consequences.
Dilating on some of the offences and penalties as enshrined in the 2008 AC Act, ACC’s Senior Public education officer, Mr. Al-Hassan Sesay drew the attention of staff present to the existence of twenty seven offences in part four of the Act. He explained some of the 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. Sesay disclosed that the penalty for each of the aforementioned offences 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 their penalties is prescribed in the Act.
Touching on the role of the ministry in the fight against corruption, Sesay underscored the point that it was 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. The Senior Public Education Officer cautioned them to abstain from making false/malicious reports as that constitutes an indictable offence and upon conviction liable to pay fine/prison term or both. He also informed them of the ten percent (10%) reward given to informants that provides information that will lead to securing recovery of corrupt proceeds or conviction.
Sesay encouraged the audience to reach the Commission at anytime with reports of corrupt practices either in person, through letter or the Commission’s hotlines: 161 for airtel, 077985985/077986986 for africell or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Regional Housing Officer Mr. Jabez A. Lefere expressed delight to the Commission for its public education drive. He assured the Commission of his Ministry’s commitment in mainstreaming anti-corruption measures into their activities as it would not continue to do business as usual.
Reactions from the audience catalogued the numerous challenges facing the ministry among which include: the lack of subvention or impress for their daily operations, communication gaps between them and the headquarter office in Freetown, confiscation of government quarters by landowners and poor conditions of service.
FIGHTING CORRUPTION: A NATIONAL CONCERN