MAKENI: The Northern Regional Office of the Anti-Corruption Commission has taken the educational approach in the fight against corruption to the Northern Regional branch of the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO).This was in the form of a sensitization meeting with staff on Monday 30th July 2012. Welcoming the Commission, the Regional Manager of SALWACO, Mr. Alimamy K. Kargbo expressed appreciation to ACC for considering them in its education drive. He noted that the visit of ACC to SALWACO office was a historic moment for them. Dilating on the relevance of ACC, Mr. Kargbo said it is working in the interest of all Sierra Leoneans and therefore needed strong partnership. He assured ACC of SALWACO’s continued support towards the fight against corruption in the region.
Explaining the rationale for the meeting, ACC’s Public Education Officer, Mr. Al-Hassan Sesay said it was meant to educate staff of SALWACO on the dangers of corruption, mandate of the Commission and how corrupt practices in their operations can hinder the development of not only Bombali District but also Sierra Leone. He added that it was also to encourage them to partner with the Commission in the fight against corruption. The Public Education Officer stressed that the fight against corruption is a fight for all and should not just be left in the hands of the Commission alone. He therefore entreated all staff of SALWACO to see the fight against corruption as a collective responsibility which requires coalition building and partnership.
Mr. Sesay gave a brief background on the establishment of the Commission and explained the three approaches used in the fight against corruption which are public education, prevention and confrontation. He made it clear to staff of SALWACO that the ACC is not witch-hunting anybody or institution and not just bent on arresting and convicting individuals, but also sensitize the public on the dangers of corruption and building partnership. The Public Education Officer therefore encouraged all staff of SALWACO to resist and reject corruption. In his address, ACC’s Regional Manager, North, Mr. Patrick Sandi emphasized the importance of SALWACO to the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone, noting that its primary duty of providing safe drinking water makes it very strategic towards providing the basic needs of the people. He therefore encouraged SALWACO staff to stand against corruption and be sincere in the fight. “If we allow corruption to thrive in this country, we will have nothing to leave as legacy for our children. So let us join hands and be strong to fight against it” Manager Sandi said.
Explaining the offences, Manager Sandi emphasized that the Commission has the mandate to investigate all forms of corruption and corrupt practices. He explained some of the offences in the 2008 Act that have bearing with SALWACO operations like misappropriation of donor or public funds or property, soliciting and accepting advantage, protection of public revenue, abuse of office and position, peddling influence and receiving gifts for corrupt purposes among others. Mr. Sandi maintained that the punishment for any of the offences is a fine of not less than thirty (30) million Leones or imprisonment for a term not less than three (3) years or both fine and prison term. He used the opportunity to encourage all SALWACO staff to declare their assets as failure to comply is a punishable offence.
The Regional Manager explained the various methods of making reports to the Commission and entreated them to resist, reject and report corruption. He emphasized the Commission’s core values of confidentiality and the fullest protection of its informants. Mr. Sandi read out the free ACC mobile hotlines and explained to them the benefits of making report and the 10% reward to informants. He however warned them against making false report which he said is also an offence.
Delivering the vote of thanks on behalf of staff, the Public Relations Officer of SALWACO Rose-Ann Kargbo thanked the ACC for enlightening them on the offences and what they should not do. She assured the Commission that they would abide by the warnings. She appealed to the Commission to address their numerous concerns and also advocate for improvement on their conditions of service.
Questions, concerns, comments and answers formed part of the meeting.
FIGHTING CORRUPTION: A NATIONAL FIGHT