The truth about reporting corruption

3 November 2014 at 20:16 | 15377 views

By Abdulai Saccoh, Anti-Corruption Commission, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

As a specialized anti-graft agency, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been confronted with numerous challenges in its desire to meet the aspiration of the people. Prominent amongst them is the unwillingness exhibited most times by some members of the public to report corruption related offences to the Commission. Can we characterize such act as patriotism or disservice to the nation? Crucial as it may in combating graft, reporting corruption is being considered as the nucleus in ACC operations. For some, fighting corruption is the sole responsibility of the Commission and not theirs. That is why some have decided to suffer in silence the brunt of corruption rather than blowing the whistle on the corrupt.

There are diverse opinions to it but the truth is that ACC is only leading the crusade with collective support of the public. Of course in every discourse there are skeptics and their intention is to maintain the status quo at all cost. Perhaps that is the reason why some citizens continue to renege on their civic responsibility to ensure that all forms of corruption are reported to the Commission. Otherwise this aspect of the crusade would have been fully imbibed by Sierra Leoneans as it is the case in some part of the world. At this juncture, let me draw your attention why whistle blowing is crucial in curbing graft: it exposes corrupt individuals and institutions; it also brings to light the administrative, financial and procedural malpractices in institutions; corruption breeds poverty and under development.

The desired change can only be achieved if we are committed and ready to embrace this campaign that will free this nation from the shackles of corruption. It must not be misconstrued as witch hunt but a national service to enhance prosperity. Pessimists on the other hand will argue on the grounds of ignorance purporting that anti-graft agency most times expose whistleblowers on corruption matter and ended up being ridiculed, persecuted, ostracized, dejected and are referred to as "Enemy of progress." Contrary to such assertion, Section 81 (1) of the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act provides that ’’where the Commission receives information in confidence to the effect that an act constituting an offence under Part IV has occurred, that information and the identity of the informer shall be held secret between the Commission and the informer, and all matters relating to such information shall be privileged and shall not be disclosed in any proceedings before any court, tribunal or other authority.’’

For the purpose of setting the records straight, there has never been a situation where a whistleblower has complaint the ACC for ill-treatment. If for one, such incident has ever occurred it has not come to the attention of the Commission. Consequently, the negative sentiment that continues to throw spanner into the work of ACC must be seen as a divisive means to set us apart in the crusade. We must put our shoulders to the wheel, remain resolve and dedicated to the course. As encouragement to whistleblowers, 10% reward is offered to anyone who provides the ACC with cogent information that leads to successful conviction and recovery of the stolen resources.