April 11, 2016
- Corruption Incorporated in another smoke and mirrors
move to cover tracks of criminals in the fishing sector.
What next after that Public Service Commission report?
media reported on
Friday February 12, 2016 that a report on the
Project in the Ministry of Fisheries and Mineral Resources (MFMR), had been
presented to their overlord at State House -
after receiving the report, President Koroma assured
that the report will be looked at closely and
recommendations thereof will be implemented to the
fullest. (A catchphrase when the rat intends to do
nothing as witnessed in the
Kelvin Lewis report
on the Bo disturbances).
He said the report will help to create
awareness among civil servants to be looking into their
activities as well as send a clear message that no one
The president reiterated government's
commitment in restructuring the Civil Service by giving
it the relevant professionalism in the execution of its
mandate. He pointed out that the Secretary to the
President in consultation with the Chief of Staff and
the Anti-Corruption Commission will work closely on the
It would be recalled that the decision
to have the Public Service Commission look into the
failure of the Sierra Leone component of the World
Bank-funded West Africa Fisheries project came as a
surprise to many watchers here who would have believed
that it should have been the task of the police and the
Anti Corruption Commission.
That the Public Service Commission
should have been involved in such an exercise was even
more intriguing if not ridiculous given the fact that
this constitutionally- instituted body has never been
given the respect and recognition it deserves as a
recruitment agency of the public service of Sierra
It is not surprising therefore to see
this as part of that media report spewed out of the many
sewers of corruption that is the modus operandi of State
"Presenting the report, Chairman of
the Public Service Commission Dr Max Amadu Sesay
explained that the commission carried out a
comprehensive investigation into the WARFP - from
project inception, management and coordination,
procurement processes and consultancy services, the
contract award process, to the issue of bank guarantee
required by MFMR, assessment of the consultant’s
performance, and allegations of corruption among others.
This was achieved through robust
evidence gathering, he said. Dr Sesay however noted that
due to lack of real evidence to corroborate most of the
allegations of corruption, it was difficult for the
committee to recommend more severe disciplinary action.
The preponderance of the evidence submitted instead
points in the direction of weak financial base of the
contractor, poor financial management by the contractor
and poor contractor performance and delivery."
Kindly note that for 2 years, the
Joint Monitoring Centre, the JMC that had been
monitoring illegal fishing had not been operational due
to a lack of due diligence by the government of the rat
who could have well used this period to encourage the
massive illegal fishing that went on within Sierra
Leone's territorial waters.
reported in a headline -
"Increase in illegal fishing…World
Bank frowns at JMC closure" - "The World Bank Country
Manager for Sierra Leone, Parminder Brar, yesterday in a
press briefing raised serious concern over the present
Condition of the Joint Monitoring Centre that was set up
to monitor illegal fishing along the coast of Sierra
It could be recalled that the World
Bank started work in developing the West African
Regional Fisheries Programme as a way of preventing the
problem of rampant illegal fishing by Asiatic and
European fishing vessels that took over from the
previous industrial fisheries by factory vessels from
He stated that lack of fund is
responsible for the non-repairs of the radars for 2
years and that without internet connection the whole
system is useless as the satellites will not be in
“We have a major issue that the main
monitoring centre in Sierra Leone to monitor illegal
fishing has basically shut down for the last 2 years,”
So what is the
PSC report all
In a nutshell, the PSC unearthed a
rotten and crooked system that was encouraged by the
government and in which a sibling of the rat was named
as one of the rotten fishes.
Kindly recall that it was the PSC
which in 2007 decided that of all the names put forward
by the government for the post of Press Attache in
Sierra Leone's various missions abroad, only one was
What did the rat do?
He overruled the decision of the PSC
and instead put in his chosen praise singers including
one who was barred from his post in the United Kingdom
because of allegations that he had started demanding
money for favours even before he stepped foot on UK
It is this same body, the PSC that was
asked to look into the failed fisheries monitoring
The report also throws the spotlight
on why you have civil servants constructing mansions all
over the city, never mind the illegality of their source
of income. They use their positions to bend things their
way so that non-resident contractors would be led to
renting their property at foreign currency rates that
are paid directly into overseas bank accounts!!!
Imagine that, if you will.
The whole exercise is full of
inconsistencies and interests aimed at protecting
certain individuals and as the Committee noted -
2.5 Limitations and Challenges
It is evident from a careful assessment of the
execution of the WARFP-SL project that there were different categories of
personnel involved: political - Minister & Deputy Minister; Ministry officials –
civil servants; and non-Ministry officials – staff in the project implementation
unit (PIU) engaged by the Ministry or WB on a contract basis.
As these latter staff
are not appointees of GoSL, they are regarded as outside
the purview of the PSC. One of them, the Procurement
Specialist, was hired directly by the WB. The
jurisdiction of the PSC only extends to public servants
and not to the other two categories.
However, because officials in the other
categories were involved in the execution of a project funded from public funds
(loans and grants to the Government and people of Sierra Leone), they could be
invited as witnesses to the Inquiry.
However, even if they
did attend, the PSC has no powers to exercise
disciplinary control over them if they were found guilty
of any misconduct.
Moreover, the PSC has
no powers to compel them to appear before its
Disciplinary Committee if they refused to do so
voluntarily. The same applies to officers of RCB, the
Contractor and his former Executive Personal Assistant.
In the case of Ministry officials (Civil
Servants), the remit of PSC disciplinary powers is limited to officers in active
service. Unless they are guilty of a misconduct of a criminal nature, which
could be referred to the ACC or Attorney General and Minister of Justice for
further action, retired Civil Servants are, to all intents and purposes, beyond
PSC disciplinary control.
A particular difficulty
was encountered in securing WB input into the process.
The timing of the inquiry coincided with a change in WB
Country Representatives in the Sierra Leone Country
nevertheless plodded on quite aware of its limitations,
part of which is outlined above.
These are the recommendations of the PSC -
Action should be taken by the Senior Management of the
Civil Service to (i) discipline the self-implicated Mr. Sheku Sei through
indefinite suspension without pay for gross misconduct and to allow time for a
conclusion of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation into his breach of
procurement law, regulations and processes;
(ii) reprimand Mr. Mani Koroma for his poor judgement
but against whom the Committee found no direct, real evidence to substantiate
allegations of bribe-taking;
(iii) take remedial action on the matter of
administartive deficiencies in the handling of disciplinary issues across the
Civil Service; and (iv) overhaul the weak manpower state of the Ministry of
Fisheries and Marine Resources...and so on and so forth until - Finally, the Committee recommends that the oversight
role of Parliament be strengthened with adequate logistical support to ensure
robust monitoring of especially Donor-funded projects.
The named Mani Koroma,
a sibling of the rat is Permanent Secretary & Chairman
of the Procurement Committee in the Marine and Fisheries
Ministry. Here's what the PSC stated of him -
"Mr. Mani Koroma: The Committee believes that Mr. Mani Koroma went to Dee’s
Bazaar on the
invitation (by phone) of Mr Sheku Sei, even though he (Mr Koroma) denied the
Permanent Secretary and Administrative head, the Committee found it rather
his status and personality to accede to a request to visit a social venue at
such snap notice and
on the invitation of a junior colleague.
An eye witness, in the person of Mr. Tamba Saquee,
confirmed Mr. Koroma’s presence at the Dee’s meeting and the contents of the
Koroma denies ever receiving US$10,000 as alleged by Shaun."
Another section of the
report has this - it is about allegations of corruption
by somebody called Shaun who had been given a World Bank
contract and who claims he was being squeezed for money
by ministry officials. The report also highlights the
problems associated with the award of contracts,
manipulations and why civil servants are quick to get
their teeth into such projects even while engaged in the
services of the government on appointments that bar them
from getting financial gain from any outside source.
4.5 Allegations of corruption
Allegations of corruption came almost entirely from Shaun, and consisted of two
first, that the Project failed because Ministry officials extorted money from
him (Shaun), with
Shaun admitting in evidence that he personally gave US$10,000 to Mr. Mani Koroma;
second, that Annex B, which contained the Contractor’s reporting obligations,
withheld from GGI as part of a grand strategy by Ministry officials to derail
the Project if he
(Shaun) failed to pay the requested bribes – running to the tune of US$75,000.
Speaking to the
Committee by phone from the US and in the presence of his Attorney (Jack Camp),
alleged that the entire management of the EIA Contract was riddled with
corruption from start to
finish. This is also the central theme of the Timelines Report.
After examining all the evidence available to it, the Committee came to the
conclusion that there
was indeed an attempt to extort money from Shaun.
Mr. Sei’s elaborate references
secret recording of the Dee’s Bazaar meeting) to the several attempts he (Mr.
Sei) had made to
collect money from Shaun on behalf of Ministry officials is a clear indication
of this and would
appear to incriminate several people in the Ministry.
The Committee could not
confirm the exact
amount involved other than the reference to about US$75,000 made in Shaun’s
Report. The Committee accepts that the Dee’s Bazaar recording was authentic and
compared to the Committee’s recording of its own proceedings, there was
consensus that the
voices in the recording were those of Shaun, Mr Sei and Mr Mani Koroma.
to the Committee by an eye witness, Mr. Tamba Saquee. Furthermore, and by his
admission to the Committee, Shaun parted with only US$10,000 in the end, which
allegedly gave to Mr. Mani Koroma but which the latter has categorically denied
On the issue of allegations of corruption against Ministry officials, save for
the contents of the
secret recording, the Committee could not substantiate this claim due to lack of
linking anyone in the Ministry to bribery. The main thrust of the discussion at
Dee’s Bazaar was
the elaborate but unsuccessful efforts Mr. Sei confessed to have made on behalf
of the entire
Ministry to collect money from Shaun as payment to Ministry officials for having
GGI won the Contract.
However, references to money being given or changing hands
been evidenced. Everyone in the Ministry has denied Shaun’s allegations and
everything Mr. Sei said in relation to them.
As the Committee could prove nothing, what we have
unsubstantiated allegations. The only believable evidence available to the
Committee is Mr. Sei’s own claims about himself and Shaun’s admission that he paid US$10,000 to
Koroma as a facilitation fee."
The PSC despite its
limitations has submitted what it calls a report to the
rat and from all indications, it would seem that
pressure was put on the government to do something after
the World Bank noticed that things were not going
according to plan and halted funding. Given the State
House penchant for corruption and malfeasance, we would
not be surprised to see this report gathering dust never
mind the Investigating Committee's statement that -
5.5 Action by the Anti-Corruption Commission
As indicated in sub-sections (i) and (ii) of Section 5.1 above, the evidence
submitted to the
Committee points in the direction of prima facie flouting of the procurement
law, regulations and
procedures as confessed by Mr. Sheku Sei. There is also the illegal giving of
US$10,000 to Mr.
Mani Koroma as confessed by Shaun, which the former denies.
These acts appear to
criminal implications judged against Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Act 2008. The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Anti-Corruption Commission
concludes its investigation into the matter and if appropriate, prosecute on
behalf of the State. Any conviction for criminal offence will take precedence over any other
by this Committee in respect of Mr. Sei, Mr. Koroma and Shaun.
The Public Service
Commission was the place to go for proper vetting into
the government service because it was meant to have at
its core these values -
"However the role of
this Commission has been so watered down that in a
report reviewing its work for 2014 had this observation
- The concept and mandate of the PSC embedded in the
national Constitution were intended to provide overall
direction to state management of Public Service
personnel, and this predates Independence in 1961. That
spirit has been kept alive throughout Sierra Leone‟s
post-Independence period, with only slight variations
from one to the other of the country‟s successive
However, it is
generally agreed that for an unacceptable length of time
the PSC, which has been in existence since 1948, failed
to execute its Constitutional mandate effectively.
Consequently, that mandate has suffered considerable
erosion, resulting in the loss of its overall control of
the Public Service.
This formally commenced
in 1991 with the exclusion of Public Corporations and
the Police Force from PSC jurisdiction. Further erosion
of its jurisdiction subsequently occurred with the
enactment of the Local Government Act 2004, the
Parliamentary Service Act 2007, the transformation in
2008 of the Establishment Secretary‟s Office
intoHRMO(and the subsequent delegation to it by the PSC
of its recruitment mandate for Grades 1-5), the Health
Service Commission Act 2011 and the Teaching Service
Commission Act 2011.
It is the emergence in
recent years of these human resource management agencies
in the Public sector that has resulted in the greatest
shrinkage of the operational sphere of influence of the
PSC. From a Human Resource Management perspective,
therefore, these developments have had the cumulative
effect of institutionalizing the balkanisation of the
With the focus of its
work now largely limited to regulation of the Civil
Service, the PSC has essentially and unfortunately been
reduced to a Civil Service Commission focusing almost
exclusively on recruitment."