By: Alex A. Bah
In its drive to prevent corruption through robust public education, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has, on 15th August, 2022, commenced a sensitization and awareness raising campaign, dubbed as, “Meet the University campaign”. The maiden campaign which targets Managements, Lecturers and Students of all three constituent colleges within the University of Sierra Leone, started at the Institute of Public Education and Management (IPAM), and has since then been rolled out to the College of Medicines and Allied Health Sciences, and Fourah Bay College (FBC).
Underscoring the purpose of the campaign at its commencement at IPAM, Senior Communications Officer, Alhaji A. K. Bangura, noted that it is a deliberate step to raise awareness, solicit support, and most importantly admonish students, and university authorities to reject and refrain from engaging in any acts of corruption. “It is part of the Commission's mandate to prevent corruption through public education on offences of corruption, and the appropriate penalties when contravened”, he stated.
Abdul Karim Bangura further cautioned students at IPAM and COMAHS to desist from indulging in acts of corruption, adding that, the ACC is now working in synergy with the University of Sierra Leone (USL) to address examination and other forms of academic malpractices. He disclosed that an attempt to induce or bribe a lecturer to get undue advantage is a crime, and lecturers are aware and can make report. In that regard, he referenced Sections 28 and 33 of the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act as amended in 2019 which criminalize bribery and corrupting a public officer, respectively.
Head of Outreach Unit, ACC, Musa J. B. Jawara, during the engagement with the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Lecturers, Students Union body and other authorities of FBC on Friday 19th August, 2022 at the Multi-Purpose Hall FBC, outlined the many alleged corrupt practices that occur within the university space, ranging from academic fraud, bribery, sex for grades, to selling of pamphlets. “Salaries are earned and not given, which means it is incumbent on lecturers to perform their task with diligence”, Mr. Jawara averred. He further emphasized whilst encouraging lecturers to honor their commitment as the issue of lecturers often abandoning their classes or sometimes drawing up questions on topics not taught and/or outside the course outline was equally a concern.
Mr. Jawara further stated during the engagement that, pursuant to Section 128 (3) of the Anti-Corruption Amendment Act of 2019, examination and other forms of academic malpractice have been criminalized. He added that any such offence committed by any person whether a student or lecturer, now goes beyond institutional sanctions when found guilty. The penalty he continued, upon conviction is a fine of not less than Fifty (50) Million Leones (Old) or a jail term of not less than five years, or to both fine and imprisonment.
Communications Officer ACC, Alex A. Bah in his submissions at IPAM and COMAHS advised students to resist, reject and report all forms of corrupt acts. He encouraged them to be integrity ambassadors and support the cause to eradicate corruption that he described as a ‘menacing terror’. Mr. Bah assured them of the Commission’s protection pursuant to Section 81 of the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act as amended in 2019. He provided them with the toll free lines of 077985985, and 077986986. He however warned them not to make false or malicious report, as it constituted an offence that can attract a fine of not less than Five Million (Old) Leones or an imprisonment not less than one year, or both.
This campaign has been welcoming especially by authorities of the University of Sierra Leone as they expressed their readiness to provide the platform and support the ACC in sanitizing the University system. The campaign is set to continue with students of FBC, and other Universities across the country.
© Public Relations Unit, ACC