The North-East Regional office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), on February 1, 2022, at the Bombali District Council Hall in Makeni, conducted training on the online Asset Declaration process for over thirty Ministries Departments and Agencies in Makeni. The participants, who were encouraged to consequently share the acquired knowledge and skills from the training with their colleagues, were drawn from the Human Resource and Information Technology Departments.
Abdul Karim Bangura, the Commission’s Senior Public Education Officer in the region, said, Income, Assets and Liabilities Declaration is an accountability and integrity tool in the fight against corruption within public institutions. He furthered that, the declaration process readily serves to defend public officers in the event of allegations of corruption.
As a facilitator of the training, Mr. Bangura urged the participants to consider the exercise as important, stressing the Commission’s effort to increase compliance with the regime. He highlighted that public officers at grade 7 and above are obliged to declare their income, assets, and liabilities with the Commission ‘… within three months of becoming a public officer and thereafter in every two years, but not later than the 31st March of that second year.’ (Section 119, Sub-section 1 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as Amended in 2019).
He further explained that, a public officer is required, not later than three months from the date of end of service, to declare his or her income, assets, and liabilities with the Commission. He also clarified that officers below grade 7 but who have fiduciary responsibilities are not exempt from this provision of the Anti-Corruption Act.
Mariama Navo, the lead facilitator of the training and Manager of the North-East office ACC, assured the participants that the steps involved in the declaration process are user-friendly accessing the Commission’s website address which is www.anticorruption.gov.sl. With the aid of a projector, she demonstrated a mock declaration while urging the participants with ready computers to imitate her. ‘For a much easier process,’ she stated, ‘Once you are online, you need to first register with the Commission to get access to Asset Declaration Form which is easy to fill out.’ Manager Navo encouraged the participants to train their colleagues when they return to their various institutions in order to increase compliance with the declaration against the March 31 deadline this year. She further stated that her office would always be ready to work with all institutions in an effort to prevent and control corruption.
Earlier, the ACC Resident Prosecutor, Timothy P. M. Sowa, informed the public officers that non-compliance with the declaration would be met with stiff penalties as stipulated in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019. Non-compliant public officers or any who records falsified information in the Declaration form, the Prosecutor clarified, shall be served a default notice, suspended, and at worst, dismissed after three months of the deadline date of declaration, among other administrative actions. Lawyer Sowa therefore implored them to comply with the law and save themselves from possible legal wrangle with the Commission.
He further disclosed the establishment of the special anti-corruption division in the High Court of Sierra Leone and the deployment of ACC prosecutors in the regions, are significant steps to expedite proceedings in corruption matters in pursuit of justice for the citizenry. ‘I therefore encourage you all to respect the law by rejecting corruption and properly declaring your income assets and liabilities with the Commission,’ he added.
Mariatu Fofanah, Assistant Inspector of Police, who had described the training as interactive and timely, thanked the ACC for its restless efforts to fight corruption in the country.