In its determination to spread anti corruption messages and build partnerships across the regions, the Northern Regional Office of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), on Thursday, 22nd March, 2012, engaged youths, bike riders, traders and other key stakeholders in Matotoka, in Tane Chiefdom, Tonkolili District.
The engagement was an interactive meeting at the Matotoka Community Centre aimed at sensitizing the young people on the fight against corruption.
In his welcome address, the Chairman of the meeting, Mr. Ibrahim Justin Conteh, a civil society activist, expressed appreciation to the ACC for bringing the Commission closer to them. He noted that if Sierra Leone is to develop, it is everybody’s business to join the ACC in the fight against corruption.
He assured the Commission that they would spread anti corruption messages to their colleagues in Matotoka and the entire chiefdom.
Explaining the rationale of the meeting, ACC’s District Coordinator for Tonkolili, Mr. Abdulai Saccoh, maintained that the engagement was part of the Commission’s public education and preventive approach in the fight against corruption. He added that it was geared towards educating them on the ills of corruption and how corrupt practices in their daily activities can hinder the development of not only Matotoka but also Sierra Leone. He further stated that the fight against corruption is a national concern which the ACC alone cannot undertake successfully.
He urged the young people to partner with the Commission in order to eradicate corruption in their localities; adding that informants are given protection.
He emphasized the Commission’s core value of confidentiality and professionalism and revealed that if the fight against corruption is to succeed, they must be ready to report instances of suspected corrupt practices as patriotic citizens.
Giving an overview of the Commission activities, the Public Education Officer, North, Mr. Al-Hassan Sesay, underscored the point that the ACC is non- political and completely independent and more importantly it is not a witch- hunting institution. He explained that the Commission was set up by the people of Sierra Leone and for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.
He stressed that the ACC is working towards the vision of ensuring a corrupt free Sierra Leone where the socio-economic needs of its citizens will be met.
He reminded the gathering that they have very crucial roles to play if Sierra Leone is to develop; and urged them to resist, reject and report corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Commission’s Regional Manager, North, Mr. Patrick Sandi, thanked the people of Matotoka for supporting the work of the Commission. He lamented that some people are taking advantage of the status of those in the rural areas to meet their selfish needs. “People are taking advantage of you in the rural areas but this is the time for you to stand up against corruption,” he stressed.
He disclosed that the ACC is seriously considering the establishment of chiefdom network structures that would ensure representation at chiefdom level in a bid to complement the work of the District Coordinators. He however warned them in very strong terms to be mindful of the fact that in as much as the ACC educates and prevents, it also punishes corrupt individuals.
He explained that some of the offences in the 2008 Act include misappropriation of donor or public funds or property, soliciting and accepting advantage, protection of public revenue, and receiving gifts for corrupt purposes, each of whose punishment, he said, is a fine of not less than thirty million Leones or imprisonment for a term of not less than three years or both fine and prison term.
The meeting was climaxed with a question and answer session and the presentation of ACC educational materials for distribution to the community people.