The Public Education Unit of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Office in Kono has held a customized sensitization engagement with staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) in the district on ‘Mainstreaming Anti-Corruption measures and maintaining Effective Service Delivery’.
The meeting, which took place on the 26th April 2022 at the Conference Room of the Ministry in Koidu City, was intended to raise awareness on corruption issues and discuss anti-corruption measures in a bid to ensure efficient and effective service delivery in the Ministry, which is one of the most important service-providing institutions in the country. In attendance were Divisional Heads from Engineering, Crops, Livestock, Training, Forestry, Monitoring and Evaluation among others.
In his submission, ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer, Sam P. Gogra, stated that the Commission is not a witch-hunt entity but one that is determined to ensure effective, efficient, and quality services are provided for all by public institutions. This, he said, is in line with the Commission’s vision “to have a corrupt-free Sierra Leone where the socio-economic needs of the citizens are met’’.
Mr. Gogra refereed to the agriculture sector as one of the engines of a nation’s growth and development, noting that rampant corruption will undermine the Government’s aspiration for food security for its citizens. He advised the Ministry to have a functional Integrity Management Committee (IMC) and a Citizen’s Service Delivery Charter to increase the public’s confidence in their operations. “You owe a public duty and responsibility to Sierra Leoneans and you must deliver appropriately,” he noted.
Investigations Officer ACC, Sahid Sowa, made references to a number of offences in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019, emphasizing on misappropriation, embezzlement and misuse of public and donor funds and property, including agricultural machineries, vehicles, fertilizers, chemicals and seed rice etc. He said any person convicted on any of the offences will be liable to pay a fine of not less than Fifty Million Leones or a prison term of not less than five years, adding that both penalties could be imposed simultaneously.
Mr. Sowa further admonished his audience to do their best and always maintain integrity, transparency and accountability in their operations.
In his response, the Kono District Agriculture Officer, Lamin Mbogba, said the Ministry normally operates through various Divisions at District level with each Division having its own terms of reference and a subject matter Specialist that is in direct contact with local farmers. He however described the preventive approach as timely and very educative and promised on behalf of his colleagues to always uphold best practices in their operations.