The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Regional Office in Kono has on 1st 2nd and 3rd February 2022 held community outreach engagements in Gbongongor, Kongoifeh and Kombayendeh Towns in Lei Chiefdom on the evils of corruption and how they affect effective service delivery in rural and disadvantaged communities. The customized meetings were part of the Commissions’ relentless efforts in empowering the down trodden with anti- graft messages and solicit their support in the fight against the scourge.
Gbongongor and Kongoifeh Towns, which are less than five miles to the Guinean border are vulnerable to the perils of corruption making such engagements extremely relevant.
Section Chief of Gbongongor-Dia Section, Sahr Mondeh whist welcoming the Public Education Team applauded the Commission for traversing the very precarious terrain to sensitize and increase public understanding on corruption incidences for the first time in his community. ‘’We are elated to have you here in our midst for the first time and we promise to fully support the ACC in its quest to winning the war against corruption’’ he averred.
Reminding his audience on the devastating effects of corruption on the nation and their community, the District Monitor, Patrick Hinga George stated that corruption was a major cause of the war that left a trail of devastation and destruction on every facet of society including rural communities in the country.
On the key reasons for the engagements, the Regional Manager Hawanatu O. Kamara said, the ACC is in the communities to increase their knowledge about corruption and to solicit their support by rejecting, resisting and reporting all forms of corruption to the Commission; as community support is very critical in combating the menace
She maintained that community people have the right to be well informed on the contents of community projects, monitor the utilization of project funds and ask questions to prevent wastages of donor and/or public resources. She further empowered her audience to note that contractors most often would want to take advantage of the remoteness of the communities and therefore conspire with community stakeholders to embezzle and/or misappropriate project resources.
Cataloguing some of the corruption offences that continue to devastate the lives of rural people, the Senior Public Education Officer, Sam P. Gogra mentioned the undue escalation of cost recovery drugs, payment for the Free Health Care drugs, payment for report cards, soliciting and/or extortion by the security sectors, misappropriation of community revenues and the poor implementation of projects. Each of the aforementioned acts constitutes a corruption offence and upon conviction, attracts a fine of not less than Fifty Million Leones or not less than Five Years Imprisonment or both fine and prison term, Gogra concluded.
Public Education Officer, ACC, Hawa Deen Conteh, in her submission, encouraged the attendees to refrain from all forms of corruption and report every occurrence of it to the ACC through the toll free lines: 515, 077-985985 and 077-986986 for prompt action.
Appreciating the ACC for the interactive engagement in Kongoifeh community, Chief Kai Bundor said they have not only been well informed and educated with messages from the Commission but also have been empowered to report corruption offences to the Commission. “We commend you for these inspiring messages. We have been empowered enough to be reporting instances of corruption to your Institution as they occur in our community,” he assured.
In a related development, the Public Education and Outreach team also held customized meetings with the Lei Agricultural Vocational Secondary School, Security Personnel at the Lei/Toli Police Post/ Checkpoint, and the Peripheral Health Unit Management which included members of the Village Health Committee (VHC) and Village Development Committee (VDC); in Kombayendeh and emphasized the Commission’s zero tolerance on corrupt practices in their operations.
Questions and answer sessions including the distribution of IEC materials formed part of the interactive engagements.