“We the people of Sumbuya town have for far too long desired the visit of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to Lugbu chiefdom since the public education strategy in the fight against corruption cannot only empower us as traditional and stakeholders, but can also help us unearth and correct the menaces of corruption which today continues to inhibit development in our land.”
This statement was made passionately by the Chiefdom Speaker of Sumbuya town, Mohamed Sefoi during his welcome address at a community meeting organized by the ACC Southern Region Office at the Sumbuya Native Court Barry 1, Sumbuya town, Kargbevu Section, Lugbu chiefdom, Bo district.
The engagement, which attracted chiefdom authorities, personnel from the health sector, schools, and police station, as well as ordinary residents of the chiefdom, was organized to shed light on corruption issues that have stifled community development.
Mr. Sefoi said they feel deeply grateful to the ACC, adding that they had long anticipated the visit of the Commission to hold such engagement, which he described as a “blessing”.
He said the engagement will help them be in a better position to address issues of misappropriation of community development funds (CDF) and surface rents from land tenure agreements between the locals and the Sierra Mining Company and the Ghole/STL Pineapple Factory operating in the chiefdom.
He acknowledged the great strides of the Commission in ensuring that corruption is curbed by reaching every hook and cranny of the country. He pledged their support to stand in solidarity with the Commission to weed out corruption in their community.
Southern Region Manager of the ACC, Momodu Sittar, said even though there have been some improvements and gains made in fighting corruption, there are still life-threatening obstacles of corruption to rural development.
“The reason for this is because human greed and lack of commitment by public officials to effectively deliver public services. We can only combat corruption in rural communities through honesty and by being accountable to those who placed us in positions of trust,” he said.
Mr Sittar further noted that acts of corruption are perpetrated by people in society; it is therefore the civic responsibility of residents to hold those in authority to account irrespective of their position or affiliation. He drew their attention to various fines and offences in the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019, noting that due the amendment, fines have been increased from Thirty Million Leones (30 Thousand New Leones) to Fifty Million Leones (50 Thousand New Leones), and/or an imprisonment of not less than five years.
According to ACC’s Public Education Officer, Yangie Deborah Sesay, such outreach engagement is part of the Commission’s strategic approach employed in the fight against corruption. She said the engagement was to keep community members abreast with the operations and activities of the Commission, and to discuss a range of issues bordering on how corruption affects the progress and development of rural communities. Such engagement, she said, will put community members in a better position to resist, reject and report corruption to the Commission.
Public Education Officer, Mohamed A. Kabba, catalogued a number of corrupt issues perpetrated in schools, the local courts, police stations, health centres, and how such acts continue to reap society of its benefits. He said it is important for public officers to always put the interest of citizens and those they serve above everything else. Mr. Kabba said if public officers and chiefdom authorities continue to exhibit acts of corruption it will continue to erode public trust and deter development in rural communities. He encouraged community members to report corruption to the Commission through the toll free line of 077985985 or 077986986.
Meanwhile, the ACC team also sensitized staff of the Sir Albert Secondary School in Sumbuya Town on various corruption issues in the school environment and how they can mainstream integrity, transparency and accountability in the utilization of school subsidies.