12th July 2021
By Sulaiman B. Sowa
The Eastern Region office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Kenema has engaged and called on residents of Bunumbu Town in Kailahun District to mobilize against corruption to enhance sustained development.
The engagement took place on the 8thJuly 2021 at the community barry in Bunumbu Town.
Speaking on the need for community mobilization against corruption, ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer Sulaiman Sowa said that one of the best ways to fight corruption was for the people to collectively consider corruption as evil and a monster that derails their livelihood and wellbeing.
He said this can be achieved by people organizing themselves into groups, identifying corruption risk factors, asking legitimate questions to enhance transparency and accountability, educate citizens on rights and obligations, engage community stakeholders on developmental issues and collaborate and support the ACC’s anti-corruption drive.
Mr. Sowa said the fight against corruption is a national campaign led by the ACC and urged them to take ownership of matters that ensure the progress of their community.
He singled out the lack of participation in community, lack of access to information, elite capture of local initiatives as some of the reasons and factors that give rise to corruption in communities. “The consequences of corruption have no boundary as they affect all categories, but specifically the poor who form the majority of rural population,” he warned.
He concluded by calling on community residents and stakeholders to mobilize their knowledge, interests and capacities in tackling corruption in their community.
Deliberating on some of the key offences in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019, Investigation Officer, Quinton David, said that since the creation of the Commission, two Acts have been amended all geared towards ensuring that corruption becomes a high risk and low profit venture.
He explained the offences of misappropriation of public funds, soliciting and accepting advantage and bribery, as offences commonly committed in rural communities. “The penalty upon conviction for each of these offences is a fine of not less than 50 million Leones or a jail term of not less than 5 years or both such fine and jail term as the Judge may deem fit,” he said. He called on the people and community stakeholders to uphold integrity and public interest in ensuring that corruption is rejected, resisted and reported.
Chiefdom Speaker Alfred Honda said the engagement is necessary to keep local residents alert about what amounts to corruption in their interactions with public institutions. He recommended the institution of a flat fine of 20 Thousand Leones in local courts by the Paramount Chief to prevent corruption through exorbitant fines by court officers. On behalf of the community, he expressed willingness to expose and report all incidences of corruption.
Officer-In-Charge at the Bunumbu Police Post Inspector Kandeh Turay said that the Sierra Leone Police in Bunumbu had embarked on community mobilization to fight crime including corruption.