ACC takes corruption fight to Local Court Staff in North-West Region
As a means of addressing corrupt practices at various Local Courts in the region, the North-West Regional office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has held sensitization meetings with Local Court Chairmen, Clerks and Chiefdom Administrative Clerks in Port Loko, Kambia and Karene Districts on various corruption issues.
Addressing Local authorities at the respective meetings in Port Loko, Kambia and Kamakwei, Regional Manager, Al-Hassan Sesay said the ACC decided to engage local authorities as a first step in response to numerous complaints and concerns from the public relating to corrupt practices and other forms of abuse prevalent in the Local Courts. He stated that the local court system was created as a way to settle and solve disputes at local level with the expectation that the local authorities are conversant with the cultural and traditional practices in their various chiefdoms. He informed the gathering that all those working at the local courts are public officers and by extension are covered by the ACC laws. He pointed out that corrupt practices and other forms of harassment and intimidation predominant in these courts have significantly contributed to the formation of ‘Kagaroo Courts’. “The court should not be a burden or a means for people to flee their communities,” he emphasized and observed that fair dispensation of justice will give confidence, peace and hope to the community to seek redress in the Local Courts.
Manager Sesay gave comprehensive explanation of related corruption offences in the Anti-Corruption Act, including offering, soliciting and accepting advantage, abuse of office and position, misappropriation of public funds, receiving gifts for corrupt purpose among other things. He encouraged them to be conversant with the Local Court Acts, the procedure Act of 1964 and to always consult with the Districts Office in the discharge of their functions. He warned warning against misuse of public funds, levying of exorbitant fines, alteration and or falsification of receipts and other forms of corrupt practices. “The ACC is now closer to you and we will leave no stone unturned in addressing these concerns,” he noted.
In Kamakwei, the Senior District Officer, Abdulai Alex Kargbo in his welcome address described the Local Court as a court of first instance dealing with customs and traditions of the people and underscored the significance of maintaining integrity in their work. He said court chairmen ad clerks should lead by example and must not give cause for the ACC to arrest them.
At the meeting held in Port Loko, Assistant District Officer, Alpha Sowa thanked the ACC team for sensitizing staff of the ministry on various corruption issues and described the meeting as a platform to guiding the activities and conduct of local authorities. His counterpart in Kambia, Foday Yusif Kamara also expressed similar sentiments and registered his commitment to support the fight against corruption. The Central Chiefdom Administrative Clerk in Kambia Andrew Kanu said fighting corruption requires the support of all Sierra Leoneans and the meeting will serve as a prevention mechanism. He encouraged his colleagues to digest the Local Court Act 2011 and to strictly follow its dictates.
Speaking at the respective meetings, ACC’s Public Education Officer, Mohamed Thullah highlighted various methods of reporting corruption and underscored the central role reporting corruption occupies in combatting same. He called on them to support the ACC by resisting demands of corruption at all times. Question and answers session formed part of the engagement followed by presentation of IEC materials.