The Northern Region office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has conducted customized meetings with staff of the National Youth Commission (NAYCOM) and the Ministry of Youth Affairs (MoYA) on 3rd and 4th April 2023, respectively in Makeni. The meetings which were organized by the Public Education and External Outreach Unit of the Commission were intended to empower staff of the two public entities to withstand and report corruption while delivering service to the public, and also support the anti-graft agency (ACC) to enlist more youth in the fight against corruption.
During the meetings the ACC’s Public Education Officer, Aiah Sourie, underscored that both the NAYCOM and MoYA bear significant responsibilities in enhancing youth development, mainly through policy formulation and programme implementation. He added that the staff of the two sister institutions should devote serious attention to upholding best practices that govern their institutions, in order to successfully deliver on their mandates particularly in the region. As such, the anti-graft officer urged them to refrain from all forms of corruption and corrupt practices and set model examples for the youth in whose interest they work.
The Public Education Officer further highlighted corruption offences as contained in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019. According to him, there are over thirty (30) corruption offences in the Act including Misappropriation of Public Funds and Property, Abuse of Office, Abuse of Position, Possession of Unexplained Wealth, and Offering, Soliciting, and Accepting Advantage. Sourie explained that upon conviction a person is liable to pay a fine not less than Fifty Thousand New Leones, (NLe 50,000) or serve a minimum of five years in prison. ‘A corruption convict could be liable to suffer both fine and imprisonment,’ he added.
Mr Sourie furthered that, investigation and prosecution of corruption are last resorts after extensive, regular, and robust prevention methods have been applied through the dissemination of information to the public and engagements with public institutions for the purpose of strengthening their structures with anti-graft recommendations to function efficiently and effectively. He therefore implored the staff to consider the meetings as the Commission’s attempt at empowering them to resist and reject corruption.
In his contribution, Lathif Sesay presented an overview of the functions of the Prevention Department of the Commission. Referring to Section 7 of the aforementioned Act, the Prevention Officer explained that the Department forms anti-graft policies; reviews the systems and processes of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to glean corruption weaknesses; develops acceptable practices, and proffers recommendations. He further stated that the Department also monitors public bodies to ensure compliance with systems review recommendations. ‘The Department has three Units to perform its functions namely: Systems Review Unit, Policy and Ethics Unit, and Monitoring and Compliance Unit,’ he averred.
Mr Sesay also stated that, the ACC applies ‘The Carrot and Stick’ approach to ensure MDAs and Local Councils implement anti-corruption recommendations, noting that, institutions’ compliance level are graded on a scale of 0-100 per cent. That is, 0-49% is considered as noncompliance; 50-70% is considered moderate compliance; while 80-89% and 90-100% are considered as significant compliance and full compliance respectively. ‘Fully-compliant institutions will be awarded (the Carrot), while non-compliant ones will be penalized (the Stick),’ he declared.
Responding to the anti-graft presentations, the Regional Coordinator of NAYCOM, Soriba Yillah and the District Youth Officer MoYA, Maada Sepeh Sandy, thanked the ACC for the interactive meetings and called for further engagements to improve their performance in service delivery. The institutions promised the ACC officers to follow best practice at all times.
The engagements ended with the ACC recommendation upheld, to hold a meeting with youth groups and organizations in the district soon after the Easter Holiday.