Monday, 22 May 2023 15:48

LACC Urges Citizens to Blow Whistle on Corruption Featured

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By:  Torwon F. Gensee

The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) has assured residents of Grand Bassa County that blowing the whistle on corruption is one key way to stop it. LACC engaged citizens during an anti-corruption forum organized by the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), under the Anti-Corruption Innovation Initiative project on April 28, 2023. The project is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

During the event, Cllr. Jerry D.K. Garlawolu, Program Manager and Chief Prosecutor of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) began by explaining the mandate and functions of the LACC as a lead anti-graft institution in Liberia.  In addition,  he delivered a presentation on the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Acts as well as the mandate of the LACC. Not only did the presentation give participants an understanding of the mandate of the LACC; it enlightened them on the different laws that exist to make corruption reporting a less risky adventure.  

The one-day event brought citizens together citizens, the media, CSOs, Local County Officials, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), and other stakeholders. It was aimed at engaging with stakeholders on the effectiveness of the Talkay platform and citizens’ willingness to use it for reporting and tracking corruption-related cases. TALKAY is an e-platform - that encourages citizens to report corruption-related cases without uncovering their identities.

Corruption affects every sector of society; it erodes the citizens’ trust in their government while at the same time stalling national growth and development. Within the Liberian society, the presence of corruption is nothing strange; it takes the lion’s share of the reasons why the country is still notably lacking behind - when it comes to growth and development despite having abundant natural resources.

And one sector that has borne the brunt of corruption is education.  Mr. Nathaniel Cisco, the County Education Officer of Grand Bassa, stated at the forum. Cisco lamented corruption within the educational sector. According to him, one of the ways the Ministry of Education is spreading anti-corruption messages in schools is to develop textbooks that contain anti-graft lessons. “As a way of helping to spread anti-corruption messages in schools, the government through the Ministry of Education is developing textbooks for six graders; those textbooks contain anti-corruption lessons,” said Cisco.

One of the hindrances to having citizens report corrupt practices has been the lack of adequate protection for whistleblowers. However, after attending the forum, the participants now understand that with the introduction of the Talkay platform, one can now report allegations of corruption without revealing their identity. “At first, we were afraid to report corruption because we feared that the accused would come running after us, but now that we have this Talkay Platform that allows us to report without anyone seeing us, we will use it to report whenever and wherever we see acts of corruption happen,” said the Alternative Education Supervisor/NGO Focal Person of Grand Bassa, Mr. J. Mayoud Toure.

Additionally,  King Brown, a reporter at Magic FM, acknowledged the importance of the e-platform. According to him, they will now not only discuss the issue of corruption on the radio. Still, they will also use the Talkay platform to rally against individuals involved with corrupt practices. “The media has a key role to play in tackling corruption. We are thankful for this platform; it will enable us to take a step beyond just talking about it on the radio and start to report,” Mr. Brown indicated.

The fight against corruption is everyone’s business because the end product will benefit every member of society. Winning this war will lead to improved public service delivery and a nation whose leaders lead accountably with integrity and transparency. However, to achieve this, the citizens must jointly take ownership of the fight. In a closing remark,  Executive Director of the LACC, Moses Kowo,  urged participants: “Let us take ownership of the fight against corruption; this country cannot remain like this. Let this serve - as a wake-up call to ensure corrupt individuals are held accountable. Let us ensure that the monies that come to the counties do not end up in the pockets of corrupt individuals. We cannot eradicate corruption instantly; similarly, we cannot make it a way of life.”

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