By: Jeneba Kemoh Mbayo, Public Education Officer, ACC
Reaching out to rural communities to convey anti-graft messages constitutes one of the key approaches of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) sustained public awareness drive.
In that regard, the Anti-Corruption Commission, Eastern Region Office, through the Prevention Department on Thursday 4th August, 2022 engaged the Paramount Chief and stakeholders of Dodo Chiefdom, Kenema District on the Review and Allocation of Diamond Area Community Development Fund. (DACDF). The Diamond Area Community Development Fund (DACDF) was initiated in 2001 and represents one-quarter of the 3% tax levied on the value of artisanal diamonds exported from Sierra Leone.
In her statement, Prevention Officer, ACC East, Abibatu Abu Mattia said, the purpose of the engagement was in accordance with Section 7 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019, which gives the Prevention Department the mandate to look at systems and processes of public institutions for the prevention, eradication or suppression of corrupt practices. She said the engagement was also done not only to educate and enlighten chiefdom authorities on chiefdom development funds and its utilization but to also track the utilization of the resources for community development. She also informed the chiefdom authorities that the prevention exercise has commenced in other districts.
Mrs. Mattia reminded her audience that diamond development funds and revenue distribution are meant solely for local development in different mining regions in the country. She called on the Paramount Chief and Chiefdom Clerks to ensure that the principles of transparency and accountability are central to the utilization of the funds. She warned that if such funds are misappropriated, that will undermine the good intentions to uplifting those communities from the ravages of poverty and underdevelopment. Chiefdom development funds should be used to foster development in communities, she averred. She called on all chiefdom stakeholders to support the prevention drive that will be beneficial for community development.
Speaking on the ACC offences, Public Education Officer, Jeneba Kemoh Mbayo said transparency and public accountability are critical to the anti-corruption messages and made strong emphasis that misappropriation of funds is a serious offence in the AC Act of 2008 as amended. On bribery, Madam Mbayo said that a person who gives or receives a bribe commits an offence and upon conviction will pay a fine of not less than Fifty Thousand New Leones or serve a jail term of not less than five years, or both, depending on the number of count of offences.
In his statement, the Paramount Chief, Dodo Chiefdom, Foday S. Kpakra Faba commended the Commission for the good work it continues to do for the people of Sierra Leone. He said prevention is one that seeks not only to stop corruption but also to put systems and processes in place that ensures best practice in the use of public resources. He further said that the chiefdom area development funds are not monies for personal use but public funds meant for development of chiefdoms.
The Paramount Chief disclosed that the Chiefdom has plans to construct dwelling houses for chiefdom administration staff and promised to set up a five-man committee to develop projects. He called on all chiefdom stakeholders to support the prevention drive as a measure to help prevent corruption not only in Kenema but the country at large. He also informed chiefdom authorities that the ACC approach in fighting corruption is not a witch hunt, but a measure of putting best practice in place to ensure public monies received by the chiefdom authorities are utilized for public good.
Questions and answers and the distribution of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials climaxed the programme.