Pujehun Residents Embrace Corruption Fight

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By Mohamed A. Kabba (PEO)

The Southern Region office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), has conducted a series of awareness raising meetings in various chiefdoms in Pujehun District on the ills of corruption and the need for the people to join in the fight against corruption.

The meetings, which were held between the13th and 15th July, 2021 in Bandajuma (Sowa chiefdom), Peje (Futta) and Kpanga-Kabondechiefdom respectively, targeted teachers, school children, health care workers, personnel of the Sierra Leone Police, youth leaders, market women, civil society organizations and chiefdom administrators.

Speaking at the events, the Southern Region Manager of the ACC, Musa J.B. Jawara said the fight against corruption, as led by the ACC Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala Esq., is meant to launder the image of Sierra Leone while at the same time ensure that the socio-economic needs of its citizens are met. “The Commission has therefore made substantial strides in making acts of corruption a non-lucrative business venture for every person.

The Regional Manager provided updates on the gains of the Commission in the last three years, including amending the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 which has strengthened the Act and provided stiffer penalties for convicted persons. He said the Judiciary of Sierra Leone has also established a Special Division in the Criminal Division of the High Court and assigned Judges to specifically try corruption matters.

Musa Jawara further said that the Commission has recovered over Thirty Billion Leones, a hotel and vehicles from corrupt officials in the last three years of the Kaifala administration. He also made reference to the country’s impressive performance in the Millennium Challenge Corporation Scorecard which the country passed with 81 percent in 2020, 79 percent in 2019 and 71 percent in 2018. This, he said, has helped the country to be eligible for compact that will fetch the country hundreds of millions of United States Dollars.

The Regional Manager also informed his audience about the deployment of District Monitors and Prevention Officers across the country to help prevent corruption and ensure the smooth operations of the World Bank-funded Social Safety Net program.

Musa Jawara called on residents of Pujehun to reject, resist and report all instances of corruption affecting their chiefdoms.

Speaking on corruption related issues affecting the chiefdoms, the Public Education Officer, Mohamed A. Kabba strongly cautioned local court administrators against illegal charges, fines, arbitrary arrest and detention, whilst maintaining that such practices are completely against the Local Court Act of 2011.

He called on local court functionaries to be transparent and fair in the adjudication of all local court matters, adding that, they must desist from any practices that will relapse the chiefdom into perpetual chaos, and that by extension shall disrupt the peaceful co-existence of the people of Pujehun District.

Mr. Kabba further highlighted the need for the display of citizens’ service charters in all public institutions, stressing that that will ensure transparency and accountability in the delivery of public goods and services.

The chiefdom authorities thanked the ACC for the engagements, calling them an eye-opener to some of the corruption issues that take place in their communities.

In his remarks, the Paramount Chief, Lahai A.K. Sowa  of Sowa chiefdom and Sullayman B.M. Koroma, a representative of Peje chiefdom said that they will ensure to follow due processes and procedures in the utilization of Government’s resources and to stay-off from imposing illegal charges on the people.

 The Deputy Director, Teaching Service Commission (TSC), Lansana Rogers similarly called on teachers and school authorities in the district to maintain high level of professionalism in the discharge of their respective duties, noting that the establishment of Integrity School Clubs will help in shaping pupils into responsible citizens.

The ACC Team also made on-the-spot checks at the Pujehun District Medical Officer’s office and the Growth Centre Training Institute to ascertain the reasons for the burning of some drugs and allegations relating to the implementation of the Skills Development Fund respectively.