The purpose for this meeting as presented by Abdulai Saccoh-ACC Public Education Officer was to marshall the Inter-religious Council into action against corruption. The Inter-religious Council, Saccoh added is a conglomerate of both Christian and Muslim clergies; set up to promote religious tolerance and inter-faith collaboration; or a body created to respond to issues of national flavor, of which the fight against corruption is fundamental. Saccoh made a compendium of interventions by the Inter-Religious Council that yielded great dividend, ranging from their efforts to end the war and Ebola in Serra Leone, to the civil protest against the adoption of the Abortion Bill.
On a similar note the Public Education Officer, therefore called upon the Inter-religious council to raise their voice against the ills of society, as they are expected to be the “voice of the voiceless”. He also encouraged them to use their pulpits as instrument of transformation, for majority of public officers are either Muslims or Christians.
In an attempt to get the clergies understand the offences enshrined in the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act, ACC Senior Public Education Officer, David kanekey Conteh said “The strength of a man is in the level of his knowledge, for you can only speak of what you know“. He therefore catalogued a host of corruption offences to watch for, which may warrant ACC’s intervention; such as: Corrupt Acquisition of Wealth, Misappropriation of Public or Donor Funds and Property, Using Influence for Contracts, Protection of Public Property and Revenue, Bid Rigging, and Impeding Investment; to name just a few.
Conteh furthered that, as it was with the Decalogue handed down by God, so it is with the offences under part four of the 2008 AC Act; the fine for every offence committed, is nothing less than thirty million Leones or three years imprisonment, or both.
Speaking on the “Significance of Religious Leaders to National Development”, ACC Regional Manager, Abubakarr Kamara informed his audience that “the issue of corruption is of the mind and it is the mind that controls our daily activities. If one thinks the only path to getting rich is through unscrupulous means, that becomes his approach to life”. Therefore, the greatest role of religion Manager Kamara added is to change the mind set of people.
Manger Kamara further explained that faith based institutions are very essential to the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone; for a larger constituent of the Sierra Leonean population belongs to either one of the two main religions in the country; which are Islam and Christianity. Members of these congregations have enormous respect for their clergies, and they listen to them to a larger extent. So, whatever message they promote from their pulpit carries weight and could be adhered to. Therefore, using that platform, to disseminate anti-corruption messages would be very appropriate. Hence the need to capacitate the Christian and Muslim clergies in a sensitization meeting could not be over-emphasized.
When given the opportunity to address his colleagues, the Reverend Daniel Sheka Mansaray as Regional Coordinator of the Inter-religious Council in the north, lauded the effort of the ACC and considered the sensitization meeting as an eye-opener. While referring to the meeting as timely, Rev Mansaray described corruption as selfishness, greed and wickedness; and at the same time stated that their roles as preachers is a God-given responsibility to change the lens or mindset of their respective congregations
On behalf of colleagues, he expressed his readiness and sincerity to the national course against corruption. He however stated that ACC is the second institution apart from UNICEF (Focus 1,000) that has invited them to disseminate information of national interest from their pulpits. He thereby encouraged clergies to preach Anti-Corruption messages and to call upon their memberships to join the fight against corruption.
The meeting was chaired by ACC Senior Public Education Officer, Al-Hassan Sesay and the closing courtesy was done by one of the participants, pastor Victor N. Williams.