The Senior Public Education Officer of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) Northern Regional Office has reminded personnel of the Sierra Leone Police in Makeni that a Force for Good should be eternally committed to fighting the scourge of corruption. Abdul Karim Bangura issued the advice to officers of the Northern Police Headquarters and Mena Hills Police Station in a Customized Meeting held on 18th August, 2023 at their parade ground.
The ACC officer underlined the relevance of the reminder, pointing out the role of the police force in securing lives and property and its constant interaction with the citizenry. Bangura maintained that a security force with a staunch stance against corruption guarantees peace and order in the country. However, he disclosed that several concerns have been raised about police officers who allegedly receive bribes for bail and charge money for the processing of cases at some police stations. He added that extortion at checkpoints is also a thorny issue that needs to be addressed in order to spike public confidence in the Force.
The Senior Public Educator also drew the attention of the officers to the landmark legal reforms the ACC has made in its relentless campaign to fight against corruption. In addition to citing increase in a one-count fine, from Thirty Thousand (New) Leones (Le 30,000) to Fifty Thousand (New) Leones (Le 50,000) and a prison term from three (3) years to five (5) years minimum, upon conviction, he further revealed the powers of the Commission to proceed with prosecution in the absence of a person under corruption charges. ‘All of these are provided for in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 which was amended in 2019,’ Bangura asserted.
Earlier, Public Education Officer of the Commission in the Region informed the police officers about the corrosive effects of corruption on Public Sector performance. According to Aiah Sourie, corruption breaks down the public service delivery chain, rendering public bodies incapable of meeting their obligations to the citizenry. Besides, he averred that while corruption diverts State resources into wrong hands and creates resentment within and among public bodies, it worsens inequalities with marginalized portions of the population being the hardest hit.
He concluded saying: ‘Citizens’ trust in public institutions nosedives if they are fraught with misconduct. He then urged the police officers to abstain from every instance of corruption in their determination to serve the populace. Sourie further encouraged them to uphold integrity as the anchor in quality public service delivery, affirming that the ACC is always ready to support the SLP to fight against corruption.
In response to ACC messages, Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police in the Northern Region, who is also the former Director of Professional Standards in the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), Aiah E. Samandia, thanked the Commission for the engagement and commended the existing Memorandum of Understanding between the ACC and the SLP. Referring to the allegations earlier mentioned, he said since his transfer to the Regional Police Headquarters, he has taken responsibility to remind his officers to not veer off the values of the Force.
AIG Samandia underscored the significance of integrity in enhancing efficient and effective public service delivery, adding that officers who are found to have broken the ethics of the police force in his jurisdiction would face disciplinary measures. He also called for more interaction with the ACC.
The engagement ended with a question-and-answer session and the vote of thanks moved by ACC’s Legal Clerk, Ibrahim Bangura.