OMBUDSMAN, GAMBIA on study visit to ACC

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By: Amie Massaquoi, Assistant Information Officer, ACC

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has, on Monday 28th November, 2022, played host to a six-man delegation from the Office of the Ombudsman, in the Republic of The Gambia, who are in Sierra Leone on a study tour and experience sharing on the work of the ACC, particularly, its Assets Disclosure and Management Regime, for replication, as the Gambian Office of the Ombudsman is mandated to manage the asset declaration process in The Gambia.

The delegation led by the Gambia Ombudsman, Bakary K. Sanyang, also comprises, the Principal Investigator, Lamin Saidykhan, and Three Senior Investigators-Nyimasata Dibba, Musa Turay and Baboucarr B. Turay.

Stating the purpose of their visit, in a meeting held at the Commission’s Head Office, 3 Gloucester Street, Freetown, Bakary Sanyang, said, it was as a result of the unparalleled successes recorded by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Sierra Leone, in its unrelenting anti-graft crusade, and the feedbacks got from their colleagues who had earlier visited the ACC Sierra Leone on study visit on the implementation of the Social Safety Net and Grievance Redress program. “Acknowledging that, the visit of our colleagues yielded fruits, we also believe that we can learn a lot from the Commission in Sierra Leone, since both institutions share similar mandates”.

The Gambian Ombudsman added that the general functions of his office is to receive complaints of maladministration by Government institutions, investigate and provide remedies to the complaints, but that his office is also mandated by the Gambian Constitution to receive declaration of assets by public officers, noting that, the Republic of The Gambia currently does not have an Anti-Corruption outfit.

He furthered that the visit to the Commission will help them to learn and be able to expand their functions, initiate policies, legal and administrative reforms to suit their objectives and mandates.

Ending his statement, Bakary Sanyang thanked the ACC for accepting their request for a study visit, underscoring that, their choice of Sierra Leone’s ACC for a study tour was based on what they want to achieve and who they think can be of help in that regard.

In his statement, the Deputy Commissioner ACC, Augustine Foday Ngobie, expressed appreciation to the delegation for choosing the Anti-Corruption Commission, Sierra Leone for a study visit, as the historical relationship between the two countries dates as far back as pre-colonial period. He assured the delegation of the Commission’s willingness to share experience and to also learn from them, especially, in the area of the Asset Declaration system and the general work of the Commission and that of the Gambian Ombudsman’s Office.

“It is always a good and proper thing to engage in experience sharing platforms so that institutions can learn and be better equipped to deliver on their tasks and mandates,” Mr. Ngobie averred.

The ACC Deputy Commissioner gave an overview of the Commission, stating that it came into being by an Act of Parliament in 2000, which was repealed and replaced in 2008, and was also amended in 2019. He further gave a synopsis of the functions and mandates of the different Departments at the ACC.

In his submission on the Asset Disclosure and Management regime at the ACC, the Coordinator of Operations at the Commission, Emmanuel Koivaya Amara Esq. said, the Asset Declaration is a preventive tool used in the fight against graft. He added that the Asset Declaration exercise has been in existence since 2008 when the 2000 Act was repealed, at that time the Asset Declaration was annual, but with the amendment in 2019, the asset declaration process was made bi-annual. He highlighted the categories of declarants, which he stated are grade seven and above. However, public officers who are below grade seven but with fiduciary responsibilities, are also required by law to declare, Mr. Amara furthered.

The Deputy High Commissioner, Gambia High Commission in Sierra Leone, His Excellency, Alhagie Bulli Dibba, who joined in the conversation said, because of the zest and energy ACC Sierra Leone has put into the fight against corruption and the consistent positive achievements recorded nationally, sub-regionally and regionally, The Gambia obviously considers Sierra Leone “a close neighbour with whom it shares huge historical, economic, administrative, political and other ties, as very appropriate to come and learn from”. He disclosed that the engagement is “a two-way street”, as the Team from The Gambia will learn from ACC Sierra Leone, vice versa.

The learning and experience sharing engagements will last for two days, during which, the delegation will pay courtesy visits to the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Sierra Leone Police.

It could be recalled that, the coming in of the delegation from Banjul, The Gambia, to Sierra Leone, is barely four days later, when a similar delegation from neighbouring Guinea from its National Anti-Corruption and Good Governance Promotion Agency (NACGGPA) headed by its Executive Secretary, Saikou Amadou Diallo, was with the ACC Sierra Leon

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