By: David Yusuf Kabia
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on Wednesday 16th February 2022 commenced its Training of Trainers of teachers on the electronic Asset Declaration System at the Commission’s Asset Declaration Unit, Lotto Building, Tower Hill, Freetown.
The first round of training for the teachers included participants from the Annie Walsh Memorial Secondary School, St. Joseph’s Secondary School, Freetown Secondary School for Girls, Vine Memorial Secondary School, the Government Rokel Secondary School, the Government Technical Secondary School, the Prince of Wales, the Methodist Girls High Secondary School and the Government Model Secondary School.
In her opening statement, Head of the Asset Declaration Unit Zainab Othman told participants that the Commission has decided to reintroduce the electronic asset declaration exercise in order to help reduce the long queues which used to form at the office during the asset declaration period. She said this will also provide public officers with the ease of declaring their assets from their offices, homes and anywhere they could possibly access the internet.
Miss Othman emphasised on the need to maintain a paperless office because papers are prone to wear and tear and they also pose a huge challenge with storage. In addition to this, she added, “over the years, most public officers send third parties to submit their asset declaration forms which poses risks to the secrecy of the content of their declaration.” Making reference to the Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Act 2019, she said only public officers from Grades 7 and above and those with fiduciary responsibilities (bursars, storekeepers, etc) can declare their assets.
Data Analyst and facilitator of the training Llewellyn O’Connor said all declarations are done through the Commission’s website www.anticorruption.gov.sl where declarants can access the “Declare your Asset” column. He carefully took them through each and every step of the process and allayed their fears that the fields to fills are not different from those in the hardcopy asset declaration form.
During the question and answer session some of the participants raised concerns bordering on the fact that many of their colleagues are computer illiterate. Miss Othman and the training team were quick to remind them that ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’ and that they should go the length to declare their assets online and within the statutory period. She further encouraged them to teach their colleagues the processes involved and registered her appreciation for the teachers’ ability to quickly understand the electronic asset declaration procedures.
The short training ended with teachers appreciating the effort of the Commission to ease the previous challenge of having to leave their pupils in schools and stand in long queues in order to declare their assets.