''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 8

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Monday February 4, 2013 - We are not impressed. Too much smoke, too many mirrors. Corruption, financial indiscipline and lack of transparency in Sierra Leone's financial affairs watered, bred and encouraged from the innermost recesses of State House from where the puppet master Ernest Bai Koroma operates.Anti Corruption Commision Chief the one and only Joseph Fizgerald Kamara. Has he never seen the reports of the Auditor General? Photo: Sierra Express MediaThe world cannot allow this monster to reverse all the democratic gains made in Sierra Leone

We have been watching with interest the various messages sent out by His Excellency, the President Dr... (multiplied by n where n can be any positive number greater than 1) Ernest Bai Koroma Phd; ZQX etc etc on the latest corruption case slammed against operatives of his administration in the health sector.

Here's a President who, to his government's credit ushered in a strong anti-corruption Act of 2008 that should have got the crooked in all walks of government life trembling all the way to court if he had allowed the Anti Corruption Commission, the ACC, that came in the wake of the new Act to be truly independent. That would have earned him and his government a very positive mark in the fight against corruption not only in the country, but the entire continent and we daresay the world.

And as the former head of the ACC one Abdul Tejan Cole observed while attending an international meeting on corruption, the one big flaw in the Anti Corruption Act of 2008, strong though it appears on paper, was to have a politician, the Head of State given the luxury of appointing the head of the Commission. That was the greatest flaw which has opened the Commission to accusations of protecting the interests of the President, be they his ministers, relations or whatever associates he had or acquired during his occupancy of the top seat in the country.

It all started when GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccinations and Immunizations stated in a leaked letter that it was holding back some six million US dollars in payment to Sierra Leone because an in-depth report had revealed "serious concerns of misuse of GAVI funds totalling over a million US dollars" and this is what, it seems has suddenly galvanised both the Anti Corruption Commission and State House in what appears to be another stage trick from the magician, the smoke and mirrors President at State House. In all the reports of the Auditor General in which massive thieving and financial indiscipline are clearly highlighted, neither State House nor the Anti Corruption Commission thought it fit to take any meaningful stand to stop the massive bleeding of state coffers. It took the GAVI action to galvanise both institutions into action. A disgrace we say.

And so it was quite a surprise to read statements from State House (read Ernest Bai Koroma) stating that he has suspended some civil servants, ten in all including the Chief Medical Officer over allegations that they could well have had a hand and or knowledge in the disgraceful thieving of funds meant for the delivery of health care in Sierra Leone. It is not lost on us that no political head was queried by State House. Very interesting.

As far as Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara's ACC is concerned, only he knows best why he had never taken any action on all the thieving and general stealing of the peoples' money that have been channelled into private pockets - money meant to be used for the good of the ordinary politically-unconnected masses in Sierra Leone. It is interesting to read statements on the ACC website that it would not only be investigating officials over the GAVI affair, but is now taking a closer look at the recent 2011 Audit Report. Now this is what we call talking tough when he states

"In consonance with the powers vested in the Commission under Section 7(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, it is hereby directed that all persons and entities subject to make repayments and/or explanations submit their responses to the ACC within 30 days of the issuance of this Notice. Pursuant to the memorandum signed between the Audit Service Sierra Leone (AASL) and the ACC, the Commission will collaborate with the Audit Service in taking appropriate action as may be deemed necessary."

The Section quoted has been there all along waiting to be implemented but not done making the case that the role of the Anti Corruption Commission has been compromised because of the direct links with State House. The Head is in post at the pleasure of the President so he dares not make any move that would displease His Excellency Dr Dr Dr...etc. It states in part -

Functions of Commission

7. (1) The objects for which the Commission is established are - a) to take all steps as may be necessary for the prevention, eradication or suppression of corruption and corrupt practices; c) to investigate any matter that, in the opinion of the Commission, raises suspicion that any of the following has occurred or is about to occur- (d) to prosecute all offences committed under this Act.

Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara was indeed blind to all the financial malpractices in those Audit Reports posted on the website of the Auditor General. Disgraceful, me Lord, very disgraceful but if we know you well, like the others in Koroma's kitchen cabinet, you will not resign even if you are pushed.

May we remind State House about GAVI and the organisation's goal and scope of the policy of accountability to which Sierra Leone a recipient country is a signatory. GAVI has clearly written that it's Transparency and Accountability policy is to ensure that all GAVI support provided in the form of cash transfers is used according to programme objectives as outlined in individual country proposals, and in accordance with best practice for financial management. The organisation further adds that "...Funds must be managed in a transparent manner, and provide accurate and verifiable financial reports on a regular basis as specified by individual funding arrangements; Funds must be managed within accounts that meet national legal requirements for auditing, accounting and procurement...funds must be managed within accounts that meet national legal requirements for auditing, accounting and procurement."

In simple terms, the use of funds received must be transparent and in line with proposals approved by GAVI and the government of Sierra Leone. What they are telling the government and the operatives in again very obvious and simple terms is - if you receive money for the purchase of brand new vehicles, use that money for such a purchase and not for a moped or in some cases nothing bought but forged papers presented as evidence of purchase.

Why State House has waded into the quagmire of corruption is still a puzzle. A puzzle because ever since we drew the attention of the authorities to the rampant thieving evidenced in the reports of the Auditor General, His Excellency the Dr of Drs President Ernest Bai Koroma has done nothing to address the serious financial irregularities highlighted in the various reports with massive thieving from all areas where government operatives leave their paw prints.

And leading the Brigade of the Financial Plunderers are elements from the seat of power at State House. Ernest Bai Koroma's very own Financial Secretary, one Edmond Koroma got to that post after a disastrous performance that cost the country millions of dollars and billions of leones. Appointing him to that post says it all - that State House just adores looters of the country's finances. And in all this Ernest Bai Koroma did not lift a finger against those mentioned in the Auditor General's reports, against people who fail to account for funds received from government coffers for purposes that were never fulfilled.

So why those civil servants in the Ministry of Health? Is it because GAVI put its foot down and demanded accountability for more than a million dollars shared between operatives of the government? Is the GAVI action an eye opener to other donor countries and organisations - that they should demand transparency in how funds are used by the government of Sierra Leone? That would be a good one needed very badly and urgently in Sierra Leone to keep thieving and sticky fingers out of the government purse.

We are very much interested in what sections of the 1991 Constitution amended or otherwise which empowered State House to take such an action against the Ministry of Health officials more so as they are all civil servants subjected to disciplinary procedures as outlined in the Civil Service Code. This requires a certain procedure which would involve Human Resources/Establishment Secretary's Office and the Head of the Civil Service. Sierra Leone is no longer a one-party state where the President can get up one morning and order the arrest and execution of a perceived enemy at Pademba Road prison as was witnessed by a little publicised execution that was carried out by Siaka Steven' reliable and most-favoured Pademba Road prison executioner.

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