Officials of the Anti Corruption Commission including the Director of Public Education and Outreach Department, Investigation, Intelligence and Report Center Units have spent days in the last week in Koya Chiefdom in Port Loko District sensitizing the grassroots in six villages on the ills of corruption and related issues.
Elders, community youths and school children in Masiaka, Mafinda, Makeiteh, Rogbana, Rogbere and Mahoma all in the Koya Chiefdom converged in their respective community centers and Court Barries where they were duly educated on the forms of corruption; how to reject, resist and report corruption acts to the ACC from their respective communities.
Explaining the negative effect about corruption and its appalling consequence on national development, the Director of Public Education and Outreach Desmond Johnson explained to the hall full of curious community folks the catastrophe corrupt individuals have plunged this nation into.
He noted with a sigh of regret that the present retrogression of Sierra Leone has to do with the corrupt behavior, opinion, attitude and thoughts of some members of the Sierra Leonean population who have resolved to be entirely corrupt. He injected some sense of awareness in the minds of the Grassroot that they should be very watchful of developmental activities going on in their respective communities, ranging from government projects, Non Governmental Organization and donor projects; how they are implemented, funded and their durations.
Director Johnson further told the jam-packed Masiaka Community Hall that they should not be apprehensive to be very inquisitive about developments whatsoever going on in their villages, not excluding those that have to do with Paramount Chiefs and Community Elders. He averred that if most of these ills are not brought to light, the villages which he said have all the tendencies to develop, will forever remain where they are. He said that the Commission does not waste time to prosecute corrupt cases by any nature bearing in mind the mandate of the Commission and its propensity to free this nation from corrupt personalities.
Re-echoing the supremacy of the ACC, and the stringent provisions imbedded in the ACC Act, the Legal Officer of the ACC Mr. Drucil Taylor said that the function and mandate of the Commission transcends classism, regionalism and ethnicity in its drive to curb corruption. As a result, he went on, whosoever the ACC dragnet caught up with will be dealt with as stated in the provision.
In modifying the meaning of corruption, Mr. Taylor said “according to the Anti-Corruption Commission revised Act of 2008, any conduct whereby in return for an advantage, a person performs or abstain from performing any act in his capacity as a public officer, or the offer, promise, soliciting or receipt of an advantage as an inducement or reward to a person to expedite, delay, hinder or prevent the performance of an act by himself or by any other public officer in his capacity as a public officer; the abuse of public office for personal or private gain; the corrupt acquisition of wealth; the possession and control of unexplained wealth; the misappropriation of public funds or property; misappropriation of donor funds or property and any offence involving dishonesty in connection with any tax, rate, charge or levy imposed under any enactment” is regarded as corruption.
The Legal Luminary elucidated the least fine and prison term imposed by the ACC in the event an individual is found culpable of the above mentioned corrupt practices. He said that the ACC fines at least thirty million or a three year prison term for any of the crimes including other corrupt related activities committed.
He said that the ACC does not hesitate to institute actions against people; the least man in the village is no exception. He therefore admonished every member of the communities to abstain from corrupt behavior and practices, and always volunteer to report its occurrences in their communities.
Becoming fully aware of how corruption takes place and the need for public participation in a bid to eliminate this mirage, Mr. John Tarawally, the Communication Officer of the ACC told the villagers that there is need to report corruption at ACC’s Report Center at any time and place without fear of victimization. He said that the identity of whistle blowers are not made known at any cost by the ACC, adding that reporters are also duly protected by instituted fines (very serious ones) in the cause an individual victimizes or tends to victimize them. The villagers quickly scribbled down the free- of -charge ACC Hotlines provided by all the networks among them is 076394111.
Community members interviewed by this reporter on the activities of the ACC expressed total satisfaction on how the ACC is presently discharging its mandates. They said that “the tooth of the ACC are now seriously biting than ever before considering the number of arrests the commission is making on daily basis.
By Poindexter Sama