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As a demonstration of its unrelenting strides to deal with corruption issues in Sierra Leone, the Anti-Corruption Commission Northern Regional Office has on Monday 15th April, 2012 sensitized the District Health Management Team (DHMT) Bombali District and all the staff of the Primary Health Care Unit at the institution’s District Hall, Stocco, Makeni. (Photo: ACC Regional Manager North handing over ACC educational materials to District Health Sister Bombali )
In her welcome and opening statement, the District Health Sister (DHS) Annie Briggs who also chaired the meeting lavished praises on the ACC for its robust stance in fighting corruption in the country in spite of the challenges. Sister Briggs also on behalf of the District Medical Officer (DMO) Dr. Yankuba Bah unreservedly welcomed ACC staff to the Primary Health Care Unit and assured them that the message they have brought would be listened to and the admonishments adhered to as well. District Health Sister furthered that before now, people had great fear in the ACC, as there were lots of misconceptions that the Commission was all about arresting and witch-hunting people. However, Sister noted that the ACC of current times is far from being a witch-hunt as it educates, guides and advises public officers as to how they should conduct their businesses in a fair and transparent manner.
Sister Briggs implored her colleague workers to depart from corruption and corrupt practices and do what is right. In concluding, the DHS assured the ACC that they will do all they could to rid their department of corrupt practices particularly in the implementation of the Free Health Care which is central to the Government’s “Agenda for Change”.
Articulating the purpose of the meeting, Public Education Officer (PEO) North, Fatmata Finda Bangura told the health workers that ACC was at their grounds to educate them on the negative impacts of corruption, enlist their support, and eventually partner with the Commission in the fight. Fatmata Finda Bangura also emphasized that it is a myth that ACC is a witch-hunt institution, but rather it is an independent body leading the fight against corruption with its powers drawn from the 2008 AC Act. The Public Education Officer underscored the point that it is very important to sensitize the Primary Health Care Unit on the evils of corruption as the role they play in saving lives is very strategic coupled with the successful implementation of the Health for All by 2015 Initiative, a significant pillar in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Making a presentation on the background of the ACC, Finda Bangura opined that, the Commission came into being in 2000 by an Act of Parliament. She emphasized that the ACC’s emergence was as a result of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which identified corruption as the major cause of Sierra Leone’s eleven (11) years disastrous war. Mrs. Bangura further told her audience that Sierra Leoneans were against unrest and therefore the Commission should be supported to curb corruption. Speaking further, Finda Bangura revealed that the ACC Act 2008 which supersedes the AC Act 2000 brought positive aspects to the work of the Commission among them; the powers to prosecute, increased number of corruption offences, stiffer penalties, mandatory requirement for public officers to declare their assets/liabilities and many more. Mrs. Bangura told the health personnel that ACC can only succeed in the fight against corruption in the country with their support. Therefore, she entreated them to resist, reject and report corruption.
Elucidating on the corruption crimes as spelt out in the AC Act 2008, the ACC Regional Manager North Patrick Sandi stressed that the Commission was poised to see that it rids Sierra Leone of all forms of corrupt practices. The Manager maintained that there are twenty-seven (27) corrupt practices in the AC Act 2008, but that there are even other corruption offences in the Act but not found in part IV of the Act. Mr. Sandi told his audience that the offences in the AC Act 2008 are broad based touching on things that has to do with corrupt activities of persons in both the public and private sectors.
Against that background, the Manager highlighted some of the offences in the AC Act 2008 as; using influence for contracts, possession of unexplained wealth, peddling influence, conflict of interest, impeding investment, influencing a public officer, soliciting and accepting advantage, corrupting a public officer, receiving gifts for corrupt purpose, misappropriation of public/donor funds or property. Mr. Sandi further noted that the penalties for any of these offences when found guilty shall be a fine of not less than (Le 30,000,000) thirty million leones, or a prison term of not less than three (3) years or to both fine and prison term. Manager Sandi encouraged the health staff to stay away from corruption, as the negative effects of the practice were far reaching and debilitating.
In concluding, Mr. Sandi warned the workers to make sure that the Free Health Care drugs reach the right beneficiaries, as the Commission was committed to seeing that the initiative succeeds. In that light, the Manager went on, the ACC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Health for All Coalition in order that the two organizations can draw support and strength from each other for the success of the Free Health Care policy in Sierra Leone.
Giving the vote of thanks, Jeneba Kamara District Nutritionist, lauded staff of the Commission for their good and fantastic work especially the educational and sensitization programs carried out, but pleaded with the Commission to go beyond the DHMT and take similar messages to their colleagues working at the Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) in villages and chiefdoms within the District.
Questions and answers session, with the presentation of ACC educational materials to the District Health Sister Annie Briggs, formed the high point of the engagement.
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