REPORT ON A THREE DAY WORKING VISIT TO THE REGION
Date: - 11th -13th March 2015. Location: - Makeni, Bo & Kenema
ACC Commissioner Joseph F. Kamara with the Regional Commander
Southern Region - Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mustapha Kamara
ACC Commissioner Joseph F. Kamara ommissioner sensitizing stakeholders
1. Commissioner - Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara
2. Director, Intelligence Investigations and Prosecution - Reginald Fynn
3. Head Outreach Unit, Public Education & Outreach Dept.- Glennis Frazer
4. Public Relations Officer - Alhassan Kargbo
5. Senior Public Education Officer - Mohammed Ali Kamara
The Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission(ACC) Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara , led a five man team from ACC headquarter on a three day regional tour to Makeni, Bo and Kenema from the 11th to 13th March 2015.
The purpose of the visit was to hand over impounded food items worth millions of leones intercepted by the Northern Region ACC Office and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and also to strengthen the relationship between ACC Headquarters and its regional offices.
REPORT ON HANDING OVER OF IMPOUNDED RELIEF FOOD ITEMS
Impounded relief food items
On the 11th March 2015, the Commissioner of the ACC, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara handed over about One Hundred Million Leones (Le 100,000,000) worth of stolen relief items meant for deprived homes, at a ceremony held at the ACC Northern Region Headquarter at Mena Hills, Makeni. Commissioner Kamara said the operation was successful because of the collaboration between the ACC and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP). He informed the gathering that the relief food items were stolen from the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) “Food for Education” project.
The food items intercepted and confiscated were two hundred and fifty four(254) bags of bulgur, two hundred and thirteen(213) bags of CSB cornflower, and ninety two(92) cartons of vegetable oil in Makeni and its environ Mr. Kamara noted. He stated that the food items were meant for deprived homes and are estimated to serve three hundred and thirty (330) deprived households. While handing over the items, the Commissioner called on the CRS head of programmes,
Jonathan Scofields to improve on their distribution exercises in- order to avoid re-occurrence. He also called on greater disclosure regime for international NGOs, he emphasized that such regimes will ensure accountability and transparency with respect to resources received for and on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone.
REPORT ON VISIT TO REGIONAL OFFICES
Commissioner Joseph F. Kamara and team on regional visit
Commissioner Kamara with Kenema ACC Staff
Addressing ACC staff members in the various regional offices, Commissioner expressed delight in their work. He congratulated them for the role they continue to play to ensure accountability and transparency in the dispensation of Ebola reliefs. He informed them that management is studying the recommendations highlighted in the ACC Advisory Board Report and they are putting strategies in place to address the recommendations, especially the issue of communication gap between ACC Headquarters and the regional offices.
Commissioner Kamara called on staff to promote and disseminate the issues in the National Anti Corruption Strategy 2014-2018 in their respective regions as it is the road-map in fighting corruption. He noted that the asset declaration regime should not be taken for granted as they are strong tools in the fight against corruption. He added that they will soon commence verification of all asset declaration forms. He called on them to work with the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) Social Safety Net Project. Concluding, Mr. Kamara encouraged them to work hard and demonstrate high level commitment in the fight against corruption.
The Director of Intelligence, Investigation and Prosecution (IIP), Reginald Fynn praised members of his Department for the level of professionalism demonstrated in their work. Mr. Fynn informed them to do what is right without fear or favour as the Commission has seen more interventions and great successes over the years. He encouraged them to be vigilant to ensure all loopholes are tightened, especially with Ebola funds.
Staff in the various regional offices expressed their challenges such as financial challenges in running the various offices, widen communication gap between ACC headquarter and the regional offices.
REPORT ON VISIT TO STAKEHOLDERS
ACC Commissioner Joseph F. Kamara with the Regional Commander
Southern Region - Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mustapha Kamara
Commissioner Joseph F. Kamara and ACC team with the Resident Minister,
The Commissioner and his team paid a courtesy call on the Resident Minister South and the Assistant Inspector General of Police Southern Region, Mustapha Kamara and senior officers of SLP. Visiting the Southern District Emergency Response Centre in Bo, the Commissioner expressed his appreciation for the good work they have been doing to contain the Ebola virus. He called on members from local and International Non-Governmental Organisations to be transparent in the management of resources. Commissioner Kamara stressed that emergency period does not mean that accountability procedures are suspended. He further highlighted that there should always be transparency in handling funds meant for the people of Sierra Leone.
REPORT ON ACC VISITS TO MEDIA HOUSES IN THE WESTERN AREA - MAY 2015
Cross section of ACC and SLBC Staff
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has as one of its aims working in partnership to build a corrupt free Sierra Leone. The media in Sierra Leone (radio and television) continues to partner with the ACC in informing and educating the public about the dangers of corruption. This engagement is principled upon the fact that the Commission cannot work in isolation; it needs the support and services of members of the public to contribute in the fight against corruption and at the same time assess the work of the Commission.
On a quarterly basis, the ACC calls its partners, from both media and civil society organizations to update them on progress. With the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic leading to the pronouncement of the Public Health Emergency, the Commission put on-hold such meetings. It goes without saying that there was an urgent need for the Commission to meet various media institutions in the Western Area in the form of a media tour.
The media tour provided a platform for more personal interaction and dialogue between the ACC and media practitioners, an engagement that solicited fair comments and assessment on the work of the Commission.
To develop trust and confidence between the media and the ACC;
To inform members of the media about the role ACC is playing in fighting corruption in Sierra Leone;
To garner the media’s support in the fight against corruption;
To provide an alternative to the suspended Media and Civil Society Update;
To solicit concerns and recommendations on how the Commission could improve on public education and media communities.
Staff of the Public Education and Outreach Department from 26th March onto 16th April 2015 conducted a two-week tour of media houses in the Western Area.
Team One comprised the following staff members of the Public Education and Outreach Department: Glennis Frazer (Head of Outreach), Abubakarr Turay (Communications Officer), John Tarawally (Communications Officer) and Mariam Navo Mbaima (Communications Officer) and visited the following media houses:
Cross section of ACC and Voice of the Peninsular staff
Team Two comprised, Alhassan Kargbo, Public Relations Officer, Alimamy Lahai Kamara, Communications Officer, Junisa Sankoh, Public Education, Officer and Margaret Jones, Communications Officer.
Cross section of ACC and Radio Democracy staff
Media houses visited:
1. The Nationalist Newspaper
11. The News Watch
2. Global Times Newspaper
12. Awoko Newspaper
3. Voice of the Peninsular
13. AYV Newspaper
4. Radio Viacity
14. AYV Radio
5. Radio Lion Mountain
15. Ariogbo Newspaper
6. Culture Radio
16. Sierra Leone News Hunters
7. Sierra Express Media
17. New Vision Newspaper
8. For Di People Newspaper
18. The Update Newspaper
9. Specimen Newspaper
19. The New Storm Newspaper
10. Newday Magazine
20. Salone Champion Newspaper
21.The Satellite Newspaper
22. Shining Star Newspaper
23. TUMAC Radio
Cross section of ACC and SLENA staff
The messages from the ACC to media houses were delivered by the Head of Outreach, Glennis Frazer and the Public Relations Officer, Alhassan Kargbo. Other members of the team made their contributions. In their respective messages they gave the objectives of the tour and added the following:
• The ACC thanked and appreciated the media for their important role and work in the fight against corruption by publishing and broadcasting the Commission’s press releases, public notices, feature articles, news stories, jingles, discussion programmes and documentaries some of which were gratis.
• The media is pivotal to building good governance, fostering transparency and accountability and integrity, and also helping people make informed judgment. The media tour therefore, was to get journalists and the public make informed judgment about the activities of the Commission.
• Conceptions on how the Commission has been handling its cases in court especially in respect of delays in judgment and imposition of lesser fines and sentences handed down on accused persons.
• Delays, fines, and sentences are exclusively matters of the Sierra Leone Judiciary and not the ACC. But however, they said that in spite of those challenges the Commission made tremendous success last year in prosecution by securing a 100% conviction.
• That they the media need to do more especially in the area of investigative journalism as the ACC had investigated and prosecuted cases based on media reports.
• Media institutions to increase on the number of coverage, airtime and space given to the Commission, and to be more vigilant in checking on the operations of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). They called for more investigative reporting.
• To contact the Commission (specifically the Public Education and Outreach Department) when they want to investigate any issue relating to corruption or the activities of the Commission.
• Adverts are distributed to media houses based on available funds. The Commission is not a business entity and most times only an average number of three adverts are published per quarter. This is a hurdle for the PE&EO Department when you consider that there are over fifty newspapers to work with. However, the PE&EO Department will develop a quota system for the distribution of adverts.
• Media houses to be patient with the Commission over payments for published adverts, as it sometimes take days before such payments are made.
• The ACC has been actively involved in monitoring the Ebola funds and has set up the ERTI and also interrogating individuals named in the Ebola audit report.
ACC and Radio Viacity Staff
POSITIVE STATEMENTS BY JOURNALISTS:
• All media houses stated that the ACC has been doing well in the fight against corruption.
• All media houses acknowledged that the fight against corruption is equally the fight for journalists
• The media tour is a good venture, as many organizations tend to disregard media relations-David Jabati (AYV).
• People seem to trust the ACC more than any other state institution- Nancy L Joseph (AIR-RADIO).
• “We are ready to help the ACC in fighting any cause that is in the interest of the State.”-Theophilus Bainda (Culture Radio)
• The ACC Commissioner is always ready to answer to calls and respond to issues whenever called upon. In other words, accessing information from the Commission is quite easy for journalists-Mohamed Sankoh (Nationalist), Edward Marrah (Informant), Sorie Fofana (Global Times), Sydney Pratt (Trumpet).
• That the Commission has done well in changing the perception of the public about corruption,(The Owl, The Exclusive).
• The Commission’s stance to have the former Chief Justice vacate office upon reaching retirement age was a move in the right direction- (VOH, FM 96.2).
ISSUES AND CONCERNS FROM JOURNALISTS:
• The undermentioned media houses observed that they get no adverts from the ACC and the Commission seems too selective with the way it gives out adverts-namely; New Vision, New Storm, Independent Observer, Informant, Trumpet and Salone Champion.
• Difficulty for court reporters to access indictments that would enable them compile comprehensive reports on charges against ACC indictees-Nationalist court reporter, AYV court reporter.
• Strained relationship between the ACC and Global Times Newspaper (Sorie Fofana) but would love to renew the relationship.
• ACC should not have collaborated with the Transparency and Accountability Committee in Parliament on the Ebola Audit Report- James T. Collen, VOH, FM 96.2.
Managing Director, Voice of the Handicapped, James T. Collen
• It is good at times for the journalists themselves to be at the scene of ACC activities instead of the ACC staff covering and reporting their own activities-Ade Campbell (Awoko), Hawa Barrie, Mohamed Asmieu Bah (SLBC), Amara Samura (New Vision).
• It is also good at times for non-ACC staff to moderate ACC discussion programmes-Rex Johnson (BBN), Mohamed Asmieu Bah (SLBC).
• To continue publicizing hotlines for people to report to the Commission-Ade Campbell (Awoko).
• ACC must consider engaging and allocating resources for MAAC activities- Betty Milton(Awoko).
• ACC should increase the thirty thousand Leones transport fare for journalists covering press conferences and other activities-Betty Milton (Awoko).
• ACC should grant interviews to newspaper journalists who want to conduct interviews, as top management of the Commission seem to be interested in granting more interviews to radio stations than newspapers-Betty Milton (Awoko).
• If the ACC has any problems with news items reported by AYV please feel free to bring it to our attention before taking the matter to the IMC or court-David Jabati (AYV).
• We would like to be part of MAAC-Diana Coker (AYV).
• Train and support journalists to embark on investigative reporting-Sydney Pratt (Trumpet), Ayodele Deen-Cole (Capital Radio), Concord Times, The Spectator.
• The ACC should make some inputs into the Constitutional Review process for anti-corruption laws to be entrenched-Babah Kanu (Informant).
• The Informant’s editorial policy is to unearth corrupt practices and report them and also to promote good governance. Therefore, premium is given to ACC activities-Edward Marrah (Informant).
ACC’s Alimamy Lahai Kamara speaking to journalists and volunteers at Radio Maria
• Involve journalists to discuss issues of corruption in your radio and television discussion programmes-Edward Marrah (Informant).
• The SLBC as public broadcaster has a mandate to promote good governance, so we see the fight against corruption as pertinent to our mandate. However, sufficient notification of planned ACC activities should be given for coverage-Ransford Kabia (SLBC).
• The ACC should include drama in their public education campaigns-Daniel Moseray (SLBC), John Konteh (AIR-RADIO).
• When issues of significant public interest are to be discussed, the Commissioner should be available to respond-Mohamed Asmieu Bah (SLBC), Asma James (Radio Democracy).
• The ACC must do more to win cases as the public seems to be swayed most times when ACC makes high profile indictments or wins such type of cases-Rex Johnson (BBN), Sulaiman Storm Koroma (Radio Democracy).
• The ACC should come out with its position on the NASSIT ferry issue because the public keeps asking questions about it whenever NASSIT or ACC guests are hosted in the studio-Asma James (Radio Democracy).
• “I reported a matter of corruption to a very senior staff of the ACC but no action was taken”-Foday Marrah (Shining Star).
• The issue of MR scanners involving the SLFA was reported to the ACC but no action was taken up to date-Pa Alie Sesay (Eagle Radio).
• The ACC is selective whenever it conducts training for journalists as journalists of some media houses are never invited-Silas Gbandia (Eagle Radio).
• Certain individuals who once defrauded the commercial banks are still getting consultancies and doing business with the Government-Silas Gbandia.
• It is good to have a special court- akin to the Fast-Track Commercial Court to hear corruption cases-Rex Johnson (BBN).
• Intensify your public education campaign and let the public know the negative consequences of corruption; and demystify the methods people use to report corruption-John Konteh (AIR-RADIO).
• Send us a written request asking for some of your programmes to be aired and it is highly likely that we will air them free of cost- (AIR-RADIO).
• The ACC is not sincere with the fight against corruption and is selective in dispensing justice – seeming to target those who are not in the good books of the Government-Easy Eye (Kalleone Radio).
• The ACC should also be looking at corruption at the community level-presenter (Kalleone Radio).
• Provide us with your public notices and programmes and we can air them free of cost-Director of Programmes, (Kalleone Radio).
• The ACC should provide more education for the public to know the protection available to complainants and informants-Aminata Massaquoi (Culture Radio).
• The ACC should do follow-up on corruption-related reports for journalists to know that the Commission is taking such reports seriously-Desil Cole (For Di People), Pa Alie Sesay (Eagle Radio).
• That the Owl Newspaper is open to the Commission for publication of articles, PR messages, press releases, public notices, and adverts.
• That the Commission should include a website address on its public service messages for follow-ups (Owl Newspaper).
• The Owl is willing to provide a column to the Commission as long as it is consistently utilized.
• That the court matter in respect of the 50th Anniversary Committee and Josiah Paris have been delayed,( Salone Times).
• That the Commission has been slow in handling the Kenema mayor matter,(Concord Times).
• That the Commission does not invite Politico to its press conferences or other media programmes and that the Commission operates with a particular set of journalists, (Politico Newspaper).
• That the Commission should take note of press time and the ACC must carry out its work without influence, (Politico Newspaper).
• That the Commission should strengthen the fight against financial graft and turn more attention to combating corruption in schools, (The Exclusive).
• ACC should try to secure a Fast Track Court-Freetown Radio. Freetown radio is also worried about the notion of partnership since it may prevent the Commission to hold accountable partners and the Commission to pay more attention to witness protection, (Freetown Radio).
• That the Commission should beef up its prosecution drive so that challenges experienced in the Philip Lukulay, Allieu Kamara and former Mayor Herbert Williams matters would not repeat themselves, (New Citizen Newspaper).
• That the Commission fosters some good relationship with the Judiciary to prevent delay in matters, (New Citizen).
• That the Commission should begin to credit newspapers publicly that it gets corruption leads from in order to stimulate competition, (Standard Times).
• SLENA is soliciting financial support from the ACC to start its operations with a seed grant of Le.10,000,000.
• That the Commission should deploy undercover agents in MDAs to detect and report corruption.
• That the Democrat has noticed that the Commission does not follow leads on corruption matters reported in newspapers.
Analysis Of Media Houses Visited in the Western Area
In total sixty(60) media houses in the Western Urban and Rural Areas were informed about the media tour with a set date and time of the visit. However, eight(8) media houses were unable to receive the team. Several attempts made to visit Universal Radio were futile. Newspapers like The Critic, The Voice, The Weekly Express, Stand Firm, the Nation Business, All Met Business and Journal and Finance were not open for business when the team visited their offices. The Voice of Peace and Development, Newton, does not exist in that community.
Likewise, some newspapers like the Shining Star Newspaper(Mabayla) and the Nation Business and Finance are located in dwelling houses.