By: Sulaiman B. Sowa
In accordance with its mandate to educate public officers about the dangers of corruption and the benefits of fighting same, the Eastern Regional office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Kenema has, on the 13th September 2012, engaged officers of the National Minerals Agency (NMA) on ‘Upholding Integrity in Mineral Management’. The engagement took place at the NMA office in Kenema.
ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer, Sulaiman B. Sowa, said integrity is the primary force that drives people into doing the right thing as permitted by law. He furthered that integrity is the pillar upon which effective institutional management is built to promote efficient service delivery to the people and facilitate mineral growth. Integrity, he said, is therefore key to the management of minerals considering the fact that much of the country’s gross domestic product is derived from the sector.
Mr. Sowa highlighted core institutional values like honesty, accountability, transparency, professionalism and objectivity, as essential elements of effective institutional management that can promote integrity in the work place. He said these elements work in tandem with integrity and therefore entreated officers of the NMA to uphold them in the workplace to prevent corruption.
Mr. Sowa concluded by acknowledging that there are many temptations surrounding the work of the mines officers in respect to revenue generation but noted that integrity values can make officers immune to such temptations.
Speaking on the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019, Senior Investigation Officer Mohamed Jah said all officers of the Agency in Kenema are public officers with duties and responsibilities guided and regulated by law. “Corruption crimes are not always about money exchanging hands illegally but unlawful conducts too can constitute them,” he said.
Mr. Jah highlighted some corruption offences peculiar to mineral administration including peddling influence, bribery, soliciting and accepting advantage and unexplained wealth. He said that for each of these offences, a fine of not less than Fifty Million Leones, imprisonment of not less than five years, or such fine and imprisonment, are prescribed punishment for those found guilty of any of the crimes. He concluded by encouraging all to be familiar with the provisions of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019.
Acting Regional Manager of the Agency, Sheku Sheriff, described the engagement as fruitful, educative and timely. He called for more such engagements by the Commission to keep them reminded about integrity issues.
The National Minerals Agency was established in 2012 by an Act of Parliament to promote the development of the mineral sector by efficiently and effectively managing the administration and regulation of mineral rights and trading in Sierra Leone. Its creation is a manifestation of Government’s institutional governance of the mining sector. Many hold the view that upholding integrity in in its management principle will help bolster the much yielded dividend anticipated from mineral exploration.