ACC DEPUTY COMMISSIONER ADDRESSES SLANGO
Sequel to a meeting with the International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGO) last week, the Deputy Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Shollay Davies, on Tuesday 7th of March 2017, engaged the local NGO Community at the office of the Sierra Leone Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (SLANGO). The Deputy Commissioner briefly took the audience through sections of the Anti-Corruption (AC) Act of 2008 that deal with NGOs (both local and international).
In his address, he succinctly cleared the misgiving that the NGO community is not a public body and that it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the ACC. On that note, he added that it is very important to engage both INGOs and NGOs in order for them to understand the scope of the ACC mandate so that they do not fall foul of the law.
"... the Anti-Corruption Commission has a mandate to look into corruption offences not only for government workers but also those individuals who according to the Act are considered public officers", the Deputy Commissioner stated. "
Defining who a public officer is, the Deputy Commissioner referenced the AC Act and stated that a public officer is an officer or a member of a public body, including a person holding or acting in an office in any of the three branches of government.
"A public body includes any organization whether local or foreign established to render any voluntary social service to the public or any section thereof, or for other charitable purposes which receive funds, or other donations for the benefit of the people of Sierra Leone or a section thereof", the Deputy Commissioner affirmed as he read from the AC Act of 2008.
The Deputy Commissioner informed the audience that, the Commission had investigated several cases which included NGO workers, both national and international. He added that there was an indictment quite recently as he spoke of NGO workers. He rhetorically asked whether NGO workers were aware of the fact that they fall under the jurisdiction of the Anti-Corruption Commission. As he did a week ago with INGOs, the Deputy Commissioner advised the local NGOs that having known that they do fall under the jurisdiction of the ACC, they should now be very prudent and refrain from any corrupt act in other not to come into conflict with the law.
" Those of you who are senior officers in your organizations would go back and talk to your colleagues that we have to be very careful with the way we handle donor funds...because under the Anti-Corruption Act, we can be found culpable for misappropriation of donor funds under section 37 of the AC Act of 2008", the Deputy advised.
Concluding, Mr. Davies reassured his audience that the Commission was not there to pick bones with anyone but rather it was there to share information about the Commission's jurisdiction and to encourage the NGO community to resist, reject and report corruption. He also advised that they should make sure that they operate ethically, objectively and without any bias in their discharge of their services to the people of Sierra Leone.
During the questions and comments session, the audience expressed gratitude to the Commission through the Deputy Commissioner and also expressed their willingness to always stay at the safe side of the law.