The Anti-Corruption Commission’s Northern Region office, in the Bombali district, was officially opened by President Ernest Bai Koroma in September 2008. This office was established out of the Commission’s strategic plan of 2008-2010 which calls for the progressive expansion of the Commission to the regions.
The Makeni office has two operational units:
- The Public Education and Outreach
- Intelligence, Investigations and Prosecution.
People in the Northern Region send reports of corruption to the Makeni office. Some of these reports have been under investigations.
The office also undertakes awareness raising programmes on the ills of corruption in communities, schools, and with civil society organizations.
REPORT ON CUSTOMISED MEETING WITH STAFF AND STUDENTS OF GOVERNMENT TECHNICAL INSTITUTE MAGBURAKA ON 21ST FEBRUARY 2013.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is a body established by an Act of Parliament to lead the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone. The Commission was set up primarily for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of corruption and corrupt practices and to educate the public on the dangers of corruption and solicit their support to combat graft. However, the public education unit has been strategic in the execution of its mandates through outreach and customized meetings to help change the mindset of the public about corruption and the ACC. These engagements have enhanced the level of public awareness on the ills of corruption and the effective monitoring of the use of government resources in their communities.
With reference to the above ACC Tonkolili office held a customized meeting with staff and students of the Government Technical Institute (GTI) at the Institute Hall in Magburaka.
The Principal of GTI Mr. Amadu E. Dantis Turay who chaired the meeting in his welcome statement heaped praises on the Commission for its determination to reach out to every spheres of the society in a bid to ensure that they are enlightened on the ills of graft in their community.
Mr. Turay encouraged staff and students to give their unflinching support to ACC to combat graft for the development of the nation.
Abdulai Saccoh-District Coordinator, Tonkolili District
Patrick Sandi- Regional Manager North
Al Hassan Sesay- Senior Public Education Officer
In his presentation on the purpose of the meeting and overview of ACC, the District Coordinator Mr. Abdulai Saccoh told the participants that corruption does not discriminate so they must join the Commission to combat it. The Coordinator emphasized that combating corruption is every Sierra Leoneans duty noting that ACC alone cannot succeed in this fight without the collective effort of the public.
Mr. Saccoh maintained that the engagement is part of the Commission’s purposeful public education drive to ensure that all facets of the country are enlightened on the ills of corruption and enlist their support to report cases of corruption to the Commission. The Anti-Corruption Commission he said was a brain child of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which recommended that a body be set up to address one of the major causes of the brutal civil war-rampant corruption. Consequently, the Commission was established with the enactment of the 2000 AC Act to spearhead the fight against graft in Sierra Leone. The 2000 AC Act gave the ACC the mandates to investigate nine offences and charged cases to court with the approval of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. In 2008, the 2000 AC Act was repealed and replaced with the 2008 AC Act in order to strengthen the work of ACC. With the enactment of the 2008 AC Act the offences increased from nine to twenty seven and was entrusted with the power to prosecute it own cases to court without any recourse to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice he opined. The Coordinator told them that the ACC uses three pronged approach in the fight: Prevention, Public Education and Confrontation. Mr. Saccoh implored them to take the fight against corruption very seriously as the education sector would only be rejuvenated to its past glory when it shall have been freed from corruption.
The Regional Manager Mr. Patrick Sandi in his presentation on the offences, penalties, mode of collaboration and updates on the Commission's work, underscored the significance of education describing it as the bedrock of a nation's development. The Manager maintained that students have a crucial role to play in the fight against graft by ensuring that they change their mindset about corruption and see it as not part of the country's cultural heritage. He noted that ACC has done a lot of work in uplifting the education sector by developing reports and other documents as a roadmap to put the sector on its right footing. The Commission has established Integrity Clubs in some schools and tertiary institutions named Accountability Now Clubs (ANC) in its pursuit to enlist public support to combat graft Mr. Sandi opined.
Updating them on the work of the Commission, he noted that the Commission is investigating the Ministry of Health and Sanitation on allegation of misappropriation of donor funds and has asked all MDAs to respond to the Auditor General's report within (30) days to the ACC. Speaking on the offences and penalties, he stated that all the offences in part five on the AC Act 2008 covers everybody regardless of profession, status, sex, tribe or region. Mr. Sandi explained some of the offences embedded on the AC Act such as: Offering Soliciting or Accepting Advantage, Misappropriation of Public Funds, Misappropriation of Donor Funds, Conflict of Interest, Abuse of Office, Protection of Public property and revenue, Peddling influence and Bid rigging etc. He told the participants that the penalties for the above mentioned offences is a fine of not less than thirty million Leones or imprisonment for not less than (3) years or suffer both fine and prison term. He entreated them to be the ambassadors of the ACC and spread the good news of combating corruption in the country.
The Senior Public Education Officer Mr. Al-Hassan Sesay said the standard of education has fallen drastically due to corruption that has inundated the sector. Mr. Sesay implored them to be optimistic in the crusade against graft for the development of the country. He emphasized that they should not allow deceit to take primacy over integrity in the advancement of their community. The Senior Public Education Officer told the participants that the Commission has built a BOAT and it is an acronym meaning change of B-behavior, O-opinion, A-attitude and T-thought about corruption and believe that it is possible to eradicate graft in the country.
He opined that the Commission has created a three (3R) weapon in this fight: resist, reject and report corruption to the ACC in order to ensure that graft is weeded out in all public and private sectors. To report cases of corruption to the Commission will expose corrupt officials to the public and also lead to development in their community so they must “Congo report”. He informed them of the 10% reward that will be given to any individual who gives information to ACC that will lead to successful conviction and recovery of the stolen funds. ACC want them to report corrupt practices and corruption related offences but he said should not be done with malice. The Senior Public Education Officer assured them of protection for informers; but cautioned them to refrain from making false reports to the Commission as it is also an offence upon conviction liable to a fine of not less than five million Leones or not less than six months imprisonment or suffer both fine and prison term. He went on to explain the means by which the public can make reports to the Commission: in-person to the Commission's offices across the country, letter, email and telephone and read out the mobile hotlines, the Northern Region office, and that of the District Coordinator which could be used to make reports to the Commission.
At the end of the presentations by ACC staff, they were availed with the opportunity to ask questions, make suggestions, give comments, and raise concerns.
The Student Union Acting President GTI gave the vote thanks. He expressed gratitude to the Commission for educating them on corruption and the work of ACC which he said has changed their perceptions about the ACC. He encouraged his colleagues to be steadfast and give their unflinching support to ACC to combat graft for the good of all citizens.
The presentation of educational and information materials to the Principal of GTI climaxed the meeting.
Questions, Comments, Concerns and Suggestions:
Has ACC the mandate to indict a judge who presides over a corruption matter and accepts an advantage?
How independent is the Judiciary?
ACC should advocate for better conditions of service for public officers.
Has ACC engaged the Inter Religious Council in the fight against corruption?
Does ACC serve as a witness and complainant in a matter?
The Commission should have a weekly sensitization programmes on the district radio.
DETAILED REPORT ON TOWN HALL MEETING WITH THE DISTRICT HEALTH MANAGEMENT TEAM (DHMT), COMMUNITY HEALTH OFFICERS (CHOs), NURSES AND KEY HEALTH STAKEHOLDERS IN TONKOLILI DISTRICT AT THE OUTPATIENT HALL, PRIMARY HEALTH CARE COMPLEX MAGBURAKA.
The Anti-Corruption Commission which is the main conduit in combating graft in Sierra Leone has continued to engage different entities that constitute the pillars of integrity on specific issues that have the potential to derail the development aspirations of the country. On that note, the Commission has endeavoured to promote its relations with the public by providing relevant and timely public education programmes and information about ACC and its activities and to enlist and foster public support in combating corruption.
In view of the above, the Commission has held an awareness raising and sensitization meeting with staff of District Health Management Team (DHMT), health workers, traditional leaders, beneficiaries of the Free Health Care (FHC) programme, key health stakeholders and students of the Maternal Child Health Aid Training School (MCH Aid) in Magburaka.
The Primary Health Care Unit Social Mobilization Officer Mr. Aiah Sam chaired the meeting. In his statement, he heaped praises on the Commission for her good work, noting that it has heightened public awareness on corruption and corruption related issues across the country. Mr. Sam entreated participants to support the Commission to combat graft for the good of the country.
Welcoming the participants to the meeting, the Kholifa Rowalla Chiefdom Speaker Pa Alimamy Koroma who represented the Paramount Chief thanked the Commission for its resilience in ensuring that graft is wiped out in the health sector. Pa Koroma assured the Commission of their unflinching support to monitor the implementation of the Free Health Care programme so that the beneficiaries would get the optimum services required.
Mr. Abdulai Saccoh-District Coordinator, Tonkolili
Mr. Al-Hassan Sesay –Public Education Officer
Mr. Patrick Sandi- Regional Manager North
Mr. Osman Bassie Bangura-Driver
Date: 20th JUNE 2012
In his address, the District Coordinator Tonkolili Mr. Abdulai Saccoh expressed gratitude on behalf of the Commission to the participants for the commitment they have demonstrated to partner with ACC to stamp out graft in the health sector. Dilating on the purpose of the meeting, he said the meeting was meant to sensitize community members, beneficiaries, key health stakeholders and health workers on the Free Health Care (FHC) for them to abundantly understand and collaborate with the Commission in a bid to address the challenges that inhibit the successful implementation of the policy particularly where it has to do with corruption related issues.
Mr. Saccoh maintained that the meeting was also to enlighten them on how corrupt practices can negatively impact on the district health care service delivery system. The Coordinator, Mr. Saccoh emphasized that combating corruption especially in the health sector should be the concern of all patriotic Sierra Leoneans as it negative ramifications are indiscriminate.
Giving an overview of the Free Health Care, the District Medical Officer (DMO) Tonkolili Dr. Sartie M. Kenneh told participants that the initiative started in 2010 as an intervention by government to address the problems of high infant and maternal mortality rate in the country. Dr. Kenneh said the scheme was designed to cater for the three categories of vulnerable people namely: lactating mothers, children under five, and pregnant women, a measure employed to drastically reduce the acute child and maternal mortality. He stated that since the commencement of the programme these people mentioned above have been receiving free health treatment of all kinds including, anti natal service, immunization, HIV/ AIDS, delivery, post natal, cesarean operations with no consultation fees etc.
The District Medical Officer emphasized that since the introduction of the programme, they have experienced tremendous increase in the number of people accessing the health facilities noting that has reduced preventable death among these people. Highlighting some of the challenges in the implementation of the initiative are: theft of drugs and medical equipment, frequent shortage of drugs, lack of personnel at the Magburaka Government hospital, Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs), no vehicle for the distribution of drugs to the various PHUs and CHCs across the district and lack of reagents and medical implements. The DMO opined that amidst these challenges that have bedeviled the implementation of the FHC, it has been a success as some of the shortfalls have now been addressed. One of such action taken was the introduction of the channel system to address the theft of drugs and medical implements.
In his statement, the Medical Superintendent Magburaka Government Hospital Dr. Christian Ayodele Pratt said the implementation of the Free Health Care is on its right path. Consequently, they as medical practitioners have been doing their work within the ambit of the policy of administering free health services of all kind to the three categories of people catered for in the programme Dr Pratt said. He said the initiative is a laudable one but a lot more needed to be done if the desired goal was to be achieved.
Dr. Pratt encouraged the men to support their wives during pregnancy and the community people to donate blood in the bid to save lives.
Free Health Care Beneficiary Zainab Kamara said, before the introduction of the Free Health Care accessing the health facilities was difficult due to the huge financial commitment involved. But with the advent of the FHC, they have experienced massive improvement in the treatment received at health facilities which are free of cost. She called on the government and donor partners to do more in order to continue saving their lives.
Peripheral Health Units representative Adam Sarah Sesay said amidst the challenges that confront them in the smooth implementation of the scheme, they will continue to do their utmost to ensure that the dream of His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is achieved.
Chairman Health Committee at the Tonkolili District Council, Councilor Ramata Mansaray told participants that even though there were hiccups at the initial stage of the FHC implementation, Council have been working closely with the health sector not only to monitor the process but also to ensure that some of the challenges bedeviling the process were addressed. She stated that in spite of the numerous improvements that have taken place, certain strata of workers needed to be employed for smooth implementation of the policy such as, drivers, porters, nurses and cleaners.
Councilor Mansaray pledged Council’s support to the programme and promised upholding the good initiative of the Free Health Care Programme to improve the lives of the poor.
Coordinator, Health for All Coalition (HFAC) Tonkolili Sallieu B. Conteh lauded the initiative of the Free Health Care noting that it geared towards reducing the suffering of the masses. He stated that as civil society group they have endeavoured to monitor the implementation of the programme. The Coordinator highlighted some of the ways they conducted their monitoring by categorizing them i.e.:F1 patient user fees: they look at staff attendance, District Health Management Team (DHMT) visit, ambulance services etc, F2 to monitor the activities of the hospital and it staff, F3 to ensure that food stuff supply reaches the beneficiaries, F4 patient satisfaction and F5 to monitor offloading of drugs and medical supply. Mr. Conteh maintained that their work was not to witch hunt anyone but rather was a way of ensuring that health workers comply with the laid down laws.
Anti-Corruption Commission Regional Manager North, Mr. Patrick Sandi said combating corruption should be the duty of all citizens noting that ACC alone cannot succeed in this fight without the support of the public. As such, the Commission has endeavoured to work in partnership with other pillars of integrity to enhance quality service delivery. The Manager underscored the role of health practitioners which he said is crucial to the country’s development aspiration. Speaking on the offences and penalties as contained in the 2008 Act, the Regional Manger North Mr. Patrick Sandi told participants that the Commission has the mandate to investigate all forms of corruption; no matter the amount of money or individual involved. Some of the offences he explained are: Offering soliciting or accepting advantage, Misappropriation of public funds, Misappropriation of donor funds, Protection of public property and revenue, Gift, Abuse of office, Abuse of position, and Possession of unexplained wealth.
Mr. Sandi maintained that these laws are not made by the Commission but rather by the people of this country through Parliament. The Manager went on to state that the punishment for such offences is a fine not less than thirty (30) million Leones or imprisonment for not less than (3) years or suffer both fine and prison term. The penalty for gifts he went on is a fine not less than fifty million Leones, or the offender would be asked to pay five times the value of the gift solicited and accepted whichever one is greater. Mr. Sandi implored the participants to join the Commission to eradicate graft in their community so that the nation can take it rightful place among well meaning countries of the world.
Public Education Officer North Mr. Alhassan Sesay said, corruption is one major disease that has eaten into the fabrics of this country’s institutional make up. Mr. Sesay maintained that as health workers they should work in the interest of the people so that the desired result of the Free Health Care would be achieved. He told them that the easiest way to join the Commission in this fight is to resist, reject and report corruption. Reports can be made through the following ways: in-person, letter, email and telephone. He noted that in as much as the Commission is encouraging everyone to make reports of suspected corrupt practices, he cautioned them not to make false report as the punishment is a fine not less than five million Leones or not less than six months imprisonment or suffer both. He informed them of the 10% reward for any information provided that will lead to recovery and assured them of protection for informers. Mr. Sesay read out the mobile hotlines for Headquarter, Northern Region office and that of the District Coordinator which can be used to make reports to the Commission. He also indicated that the hot line are free of cost and are always on.