AYV News, February 12, 2024
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Regional Office in Kenema has engaged the 2nd Infantry Battalion personnel of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) during their morning muster parade at the RTI Military Barracks in Kenema City.
Senior Public Education Officer (SPEO), Edward N. Blake, in his opening statement, said that the ACC team was at the Military Barracks to have an interactive conversation with officers around corruption, which he referred to as the country’s greatest enemy that is considered a major reason for civil unrest the world over.
“Sierra Leone’s 11 years’ ruthless civil war that caused the lives of thousands of our compatriots including you Military Officers was not unconnected with corruption,” Mr Blake said.
The SPEO reiterated that corruption is indeed the ultimate enemy that has eaten deeply into the fabric of the country’s socio-economic development, adding that it has not only stagnated the socio-economic growth of the country, but intensified poverty. He therefore urged RSLAF Officers to put on their patriotic armour in the discharge of their duties.
Mr Blake further called the attention of the Officers to key corrupt practices ranging from Misappropriation, Abuse of Office, Abuse of Position, Conflict of Interest, among others as enshrined in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008, as amended in 2019, and their equivalent penalties upon conviction by a competent Court of Law.
Public Education Officer (PEO), Patrick Hinga George, cued in with strong emphasis on the Commission’s unwavering determination to winning the war against corruption. Mr George went on to state that though the Commission has done tremendously excellent, especially under the charismatic leadership of Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala, the war against corruption can be won only with concerted efforts from every Sierra Leonean, especially the military, as a result of their strong disciplinary background.
The PEO further informed the Officers that one of the effective ways to win the war against corruption, is for public officers to declare their Income, Assets and Liabilities in order to enhance integrity in public life; as provided for in section 119 of the AC Act of 2008 and as amended in 2019.
He furthered that the 2019 amendment provides for bi-annual declaration for all public officers from grade 7 and above and as well as, officers with fiducial responsibility irrespective of their grades. “Every public officer shall, within three months of becoming a public officer, deposit with the Commission a declaration of his income, assets and liabilities and thereafter in every two years that he is a public officer, but not later than 31st March and also while leaving office,” Mr George emphasised.
Notwithstanding the plea made by Mr. George for public officers to always declare their income, assets and liabilities, he hastily informed them to note that the 31st March is the deadline for the 100% online declaration and cautioned them that false declaration is an offence as enshrined in Section 122 (1) of the AC Act 2008 as amended in 2019.
He further informed them that failure to submit a complete asset declaration to the ACC without judicious excuse amounts to an offence and can warrant administrative sanctions against the defaulter as set out in sub-section (5) as follows: (a) “withholding the salary of public officer; (b) suspend the public officer after one month of default but not more than three months; (c) dismiss the public officer after exceeding three months.”
In his statement, the Commanding Officer in-Charge of the 2nd Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Bangalie Marrah applauded the ACC for such a move to engage them in a friendly and interactive discussion on issues of corruption. He referred to the move as a step in the right direction and therefore, on behalf of his Officers pledged his undivided commitment to fight against the nation’s common enemy – corruption. Colonel Marrah concluded by admonishing his officers to totally resist, reject and report corruption in order to liberate the country from further destruction.