The people of Bumban, in the Biriwa Limba Chiefdom, Bombali District have pledged their unflinching support to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone.
This was demonstrated at a sensitization meeting organised by the ACC’s Northern Regional office on Friday, 11th May 2012 in Bumban.
Welcoming ACC staff on behalf of the Chiefdom, the Chiefdom Speaker of Biriwa Limba Chiefdom, Pa Sanusi Kalawa, expressed appreciation to the ACC for bringing the Commission closer to them. He noted that such engagements will go a long way to minimize corruption in the Chiefdom and change negative public perceptions about the Commission. Pa Kalawa opined that his people were overwhelmed with the ACC’s presence in the community, and informed his audience that the Commission is in the country to wipe out poverty which was prevalent mostly in rural communities such as Bumban.
Explaining the purpose of the meeting, the Public Education Officer North, Al-Hassan Sesay, said it was meant to educate them on the dangers of corruption, work of the Commission and how corrupt practices in their communities can hinder the growth and development of the Chiefdom. He expressed the Commission’s determination to take anti corruption messages to all rural communities, as they were very critical to the anti graft crusade in the country. Mr. Sesay further stated that the meeting was also meant to solicit their support in the fight against corruption as it is a national concern. He told the people of Bumban that the ACC alone cannot successfully fight corruption in the country and therefore urged them to partner with the Commission in order to eradicate corruption in the country.
Speaking on the offences and penalties as contained in the 2008 ACC Act, the Regional Manager ACC North, Mr. Patrick Sandi, told the people of Bumban that the Act is not just for Government employees but also covers the private sector. He emphasized that the Commission has the mandate to investigate all forms of corruption crimes, no matter the amount of money or individual involved in it. He explained the various offences in the 2008 ACC Act which are common in the localities and emphasized that the punishment for such offences is a fine of not less than thirty million Leones (Le30,000,000) or prison term of not less than three years or both fine and prison term.
Key among the offences highlighted by Manager Sandi were misappropriation of public or donor funds, offering, soliciting and accepting advantage, impeding investment, peddling influence, dealing with suspect property and protection of public property and revenue.
Mr. Sandi maintained that the ACC is not just there to arrest and convict corrupt individuals but also to get converts. He therefore called on them to desist from corrupt practices and change their negative attitudes for the development of Sierra Leone. The Northern Regional Manager stressed that if the fight against corruption is to succeed, they must be ready to resist, reject and report corruption. “Let us be serious about the fight against corruption, let us all support the ACC because it is for the people of this country,” he stressed.
In her comments, the Public Education Officer, Mrs. Fatmata Finda Bangura, explained the various methods of making a report to the ACC and the protection of whistle blowers. She dilated on the Commission’s core values of integrity, independence, confidentiality and professionalism and stressed that if the fight against corruption is to succeed, the people of Bumban must be ready to report any acts of corruption to the ACC. Mrs. Bangura explained the 10% reward informants stand to benefit and read out the Commission’s free mobile hotlines.
Making their own input, various speakers from the chiefdom including the Town Chief, Pa Baimba Conteh, heaped praises on the Commission for enlightening them. They expressed serious concerns relating to incomplete projects in the locality and called on the ACC to intervene.
The meeting was climaxed by a question and answer session.