Officially opening the Training Session, Senior Public Education Officer, Al-Hassan Sesay told journalists that one of the biggest partners of the ACC is the media. He informed them of the Commissioner’s appreciation of the role of the media, in the fight against graft in Sierra Leone. He also intimated participants that the ACC thinks very highly of journalists in WARD. Therefore, he encouraged them to be very attentive and open-minded so that they can fully take part and benefit from the training designed for them.
Making his presentation on "Reporting on Corruption and Investigative Journalism", Head of Unit-Outreach designate, Abubakarr Turay insisted on the need for journalists to fully understand the nature and scope of offences covered by the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 if they should be successful Producers and Reporters on corruption issues. Mr. Turay cited a number of case studies that are easily misunderstood by members of the public as corruption issues when they are not. He emphasized that professional journalists should not be party to those common mistakes. Thus, he said, all journalists should try to have a copy of the AC Act 2008, in order to enhance their reportage on corruption.
Deliberating on the basics of investigative journalism, Mr. Turay noted that Investigative Journalism is a process that demands patience, diligence and sometimes ‘subterfuge’ or covert strategies. He encouraged participants to consider ethics and morality as they venture out into Investigative Journalism, noting that fighting corruption is a divine work. In the midst of it all, the Communications Officer pointed out that, ‘opportunity must be given to those involved in all sides of the story being investigated to respond before completing and publicizing the report’.
Earlier on in the training, Magnus Bendu, Public Education Officer, gave an overview of the ACC in terms of its approach to the fight against corruption and some of the major offences in the AC Act 2008. Mr. Bendu informed participants that the Commission uses three main approaches to fight corruption: Public Education, Prevention and Enforcement. The Public Education Officer also explained some of the major offences in the 2008 AC Act, including possession of unexplained wealth, soliciting and accepting advantage, misappropriation of public and donor funds, etc. Mr. Bendu encouraged Journalists to contribute to the fight against corruption by rejecting corruption, resisting it and reporting it through the call centre numbers: 077 985985/986986 or Airtel 161. Journalists were also informed about the Pay No Bribe campaign, which Mr. Bendu says focuses on a trend analysis of the occurrences of bribery in key public sector institutions.
After a very participative plenary session, the training ended with a vote of thanks by Thomas Kargbo of Radio Lion Mountain who thanked the ACC for a very worthy activity organized for journalists in WARD. Mr. Kargbo encouraged the ACC to conduct these sessions regularly.