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The Eastern Regional Office of the Anti-Corruption Commission on Thursday 28th June engaged the Paramount Chief and chiefdom authorities of the Dama Chiefdom in the Kenema District (Chiefdom authorities of Dama Chiefdom)
The engagement was part of the Commission’s sustained public education campaign aimed at raising public awareness about the work of the ACC, the implications of corruption and soliciting public support in the fight against corruption
In his opening remarks, the Paramount Chief of Dama Chiefdom, Alhaji Sandi Momoh Forwai who chaired the meeting expressed thanks and delight in the move by the ACC to engage and educate them on corruption issues that have posed serious threat to this nation. He recalled that last year, the ACC engaged all Paramount Chiefs in the country to educate them on corruption and the operations of the ACC and that the visit to his chiefdom by the ACC was no surprise to him as the ACC has always given premium to education and the prevention of corruption. He therefore urged his chiefdom authorities to be attentive to the message by the ACC.
Mr. Mohamed Sylvanus Blake District Coordinator of the ACC Kenema spoke on the purpose of the meeting. He started by underscoring the need for people to be aware of the practices that constitute corruption, the parallel penalties if convicted of corruption especially as they interact with public officers, public institutions and service providers. He encouraged them to bring to the attention of the Commission any act of corruption noticed in their communities and to help educate others on the ills of corruption. He stated that the ACC happens to be the lead agent in the fight against corruption and is on a mission to sensitize and recruit the general public into the national anti graft force.
He further gave a brief background of the establishment of the ACC by an Act of Parliament in 2000 which was as a result of the findings and recommendations of the TRC. He added that the primary mandate of the Commission is to lead the fight against corruption through prevention, education and Prosecution. He emphasized the need for everybody to report corruption and any corrupt act. He encouraged all to help spread the anti-corruption message of “Resisting, Rejecting and Reporting corruption. He assured the community people of the ACC’s support to informants and witnesses.
In her address, the Eastern Regional Manager of the ACC, Evelyn Walker thanked the Paramount Chief and his chiefdom authorities for their massive response to the ACC call
The manager highlighted key features in the AC Acts of 2000 and 2008. She noted that the 2000 Act had nine corruption offences and a fine not exceeding three Million Leones but that the 2008 Act broadened the corrupt offences from nine to twenty nine with stiffer penalties of not less than thirty Million Leones or three years imprisonment to both fine and imprisonment.
She cautioned all chiefdom authorities that fines levied in local courts are regarded as revenues and must be properly receipted and accounted for. She emphasized that it is corruption to give a receipt of Le 50,000 when someone has paid Le 100,000 noting that this should not happen.
She also mentioned that it is the responsibility of every Sierra Leonean of eighteen years and above to pay their local tax. She noted that it is equally the responsibility of the chiefdom authorities to use the taxes paid wisely for the development of their communities.
She also cautioned the chiefs about receiving gifts.
She encouraged all the chiefs and chiefdom authorities to pass this message on to their various subjects so that they too will benefit from what they have learnt. She commented on the illegal and extra charges levied on pupils in schools and urged parents to challenge teachers on these
She encouraged all to be informants/whistleblowers as their contribution to the fight against corruption
Several concerns were raised and questions asked by the community people. These were appropriately responded to by the ACC staff.
By Peter Baio Kamara, ACC Public Education Officer – Kenema
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