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ACC boss calls on media to re-engineer corruption narrative

June 19, 2015

Head of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has called on the local media to “re-energise the fight against corruption in the country”.

Speaking at a one-day workshop organised by the commission for members of the Guild of Editors at Hill Valley hotel yesterday, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara noted that the media narrative on corruption has been largely hinged on “an aspiration to aspersion”, although he acknowledged that some media actors have pursued the goal of good governance.

The workshop, which brought together a cross-section of newspaper editors in the country, was to court ties and build collaborative partnership with the country’s vibrant print media, according to deputy commissioner, Shollay Davies, who chaired the sessions.

The ACC commissioner averred that part of ‘re-energising the narrative’ entails a strong partnership between the media and the ACC, adding that the maxim, “The pen is mightier than the sword”, connotes that journalists should put to good and effective use the proverbial pen, to educate and promote good governance ideals, instead of employing it to “kill” and bring down successful people in society.

“I clearly see the value of the media, we appreciate the growth of the media; now I feel proud when I read Sierra Leone newspapers, we have equaled those in Kenya, Nigeria,” said Kamara.

He also underscored the need for specialised training for journalists so that they could capture key development issues, as the intellectual base of every country is the media.

In that regard, he expatiated that the media has played a significant role in major revolutions around the world, including the French and Russian revolutions, adding that: “A state is not directed by the president, politicians but the media”, although “the press needs to galvanise to re-energise the narrative”.

Concluding, he said: “The conversation [with the media] is not the end, neither the beginning, but beyond the beginning of the end”.

Earlier, Samuel John read a statement on behalf of the president of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Kevin Lewis. He said ACC and SLAJ had forged a relation since the tenure of Mr. Abdul Tejan-Cole as commissioner, albeit the media playing a “witness role”.

“There is need for more and more training on proper fact based investigative journalism,” he urged and added that the ACC should provide that support. He also encouraged the anti-grant body to join Airtel and SLAJ in awarding excellence among media practitioners, and a proper education on the ACC Act of 2008 in a bid to mitigate “serious misconceptions of corruption and accountability by journalists”.

Statements were also made by president of the Guild of Newspaper Editors Sierra Leone, Theo Harding, and chairman Independent Media Commission, Ambassador Allieu Kanu.

Meanwhile, the workshop had three presentations: “The role of the media in the fight against corruption” delivered by Mr. Patrick Sandi; “Instruments in the fight against corruption: ACC Act 2008 and the UNCAC”, jointly presented by Mrs. Evelyn Kuyateh and Ady Macauley Esq.; and “The National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2014-18 and ACC’s intervention in the Ebola epidemic” by Mr. Nabillahi-Musa Kamara.