Speaking on the purpose of the meeting, ACC’s Public Education Officer Abdulai Saccoh noted that the engagement was part of the Commission’s strategic approach to heighten public awareness about corrupt practices, its adverse consequences on the socio-economic wellbeing of the ordinary citizens and enlist their support in fighting graft. Saccoh described corruption as a sinful act that has been denounced by the Holy Quran and Bible. The Public Educator emphasized that corruption in any form is bad and must not be tolerated. He encouraged them to see the fight against corruption as a national war that cannot be won by a single entity but through shared collaboration by all and sundry.
Dilating on key corruption issues affecting the community people, ACC’s Head of Northern Region Saidu Dumbuya underscored the significance of the meeting and expressed delight over the people’s show of commitment to partner with the Commission to fight corruption. Mr. Dumbuya stated that even though the country was endowed with natural resources, a bulk of its population remain in abject poverty due to corruption. The Head of Northern Region emphasized that the development of this nation cannot be enhanced if they failed to fight corruption. He admitted that though it is difficult to combat graft, it could be overcome with firm commitment from the public. Mr. Dumbuya observed that most communities are deprived of basic amenities due to corruption and went further to highlight some of the corrupt practices that they might have suffered from, such as: teachers soliciting fees from free primary school pupils, indiscriminate increase of school fees, extra charges, misuse of the girl child education funds, soliciting money to collect report card, NPSE, BECE, WASSCE results, abuse of the free malaria treatment and Free Health Care Programme, excessive fines with no receipts, soliciting money for bail, NGOs, implementing substandard projects by duty bearers, disrespect for authority and the rule of law. Mr. Dumbuya urged his audience to monitor all development activities in their communities and report any incidence of corruption that they might encounter.
ACC Public Education Officer Augustine F. Ngobie explained some of the offences as enshrined in the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act that they may encounter such as: misappropriation of public/donor funds or property, possession of unexplained wealth, offering, soliciting and accepting an advantage, gift, abuse of office, abuse of position and conflict of interest. Mr. Ngobie stated that the penalty for 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. The Public Educator also dilated on the benefits and importance of reporting corrupt practices to the ACC, and protection of whistleblowers. He however, warned members of the community not to make false/malicious report as it constitutes an offence.
Earlier in his welcome statement, Section Chief Mankneh Section, Pa Alimamy Kanu lauded the effort of the Commission for its resolve to make Sierra Leone a corrupt free environment. He assured ACC of their unflinching support to fight corruption and make Sierra Leone a better place.
The meeting was climaxed with questions and answers and the distribution of information and communications materials.