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23rd July 2018

Sierra Leoneans Want Prosecution as the 2016 Audit Report Implicates APC Govt!

By Mohamed Massaquoi (01/07/18)

The prosecution discussions in Sierra Leone have been centred around the recent press release of the Audit Service Commission Report 2016. 


This time around, unlike under the past APC regime, not because of war of words between the Government and the Commission (which was an annual tradition during the APC regime) but because citizens are demanding President Julius Maada Bio's government to speedily institute prosecution against the Ernest Koroma led administration because of high level of corruption and mismanagement of state's resources as labelled by the recently released report.

The Audit Commission, charged with mandate of auditing government functionaries, under the leadership of Mrs Lara Taylor-Pearce (photo), a woman ascribed by many of maintaining high sense of patriotism has always presented credible and reliable reports to the people of Sierra Leone in spite of the countless intimidation, victimisation and lack of political will on the part of the APC to implement the numerous findings in successive reports.

Arranged in sequential order, the 2016 report highlighted range of systematic corruption displayed by the APC in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA's). For example, a review of financial transaction at the Ministry of Education HQ states: "A review of the Ministry's imprest account held at the Bank of Sierra Leone revealed that on different dates in 2016, withdrawals totalling Le9,438,365,963 were made for the purchase of office items and equipment."

In the Auditor’s comment, the report further stated that: "Adequate supporting documents were provided only for a total of Le2,316,860,563 expenditure of leaving a difference of Le7,121,505,400 without adequate supporting documents. This issue therefore remains unresolved. Evidence to show that withholding taxes were recovered and paid to the National Revenue Authority was not made available for verification. Our recommendation was not implemented. The issue remains unresolved" (p112-113: 5.2.1).

In the Ministry of Works Housing and Infrastructure HQ- 2015, there were reports of payment without supporting documents. The report noted the following: "Payments which totalled Le718,987,350 were made without adequate supporting documents such as receipts, signed list of beneficiaries, back–to-office reports in respect of local travelling, local purchase orders, etc. contrary to section 81(a & b) of the FMR 2007.”  (Photo below: Former president Ernest Koroma and some of his APC ministers may face prosecution).

In the Auditor's comment, it further stated that: "From a total of Le718,987,350 worth of payment made, adequate supporting documents were only provided for Le440,611,500, leaving Le278,375,850 not supported by adequate documents. The issue remained partly unresolved" (p.154:5.18.4).

Also, in the Administrator and Registrar General Office -2016, reports of poor fuel management were recorded. The findings stated that: "The purpose of fuel policy is to provide guidance for authorised and efficient use of fuel by employees of the Department. It was however noted that there was no fuel policy at the OARG. In addition, the fuel register was not properly maintained as the register did not show the fuel balance for the period under review. It was also observed from the total chits which amounted to Le122,231,250 as recorded in the fuel register.

However, only Le81,300,000 worth of chits were provided for audit review, giving a difference of Le40,931,250. It was further noted that the department did not reconcile its fuel register with the register maintained at the fuel station. On her part, the Auditor General had this to say "During the verification exercise...reconciliation and fuel policy were not submitted. Therefore, those on fuel policy and reconciliation remain unresolved" (p.193: 5.31.1).

On the Constitutional Review Committee - (May 2015 - July 2016) reports of payments without adequate supporting documents were also recorded. It stated: "Payments worth Le1,689,045,749 were without adequate supporting documents such as receipts, invoices, delivery notes, distribution lists, minutes, attendance lists, as well as monitoring report.

It was recommended that the Accountant should produce the relevant supporting documents within 15 days of receipt of the report; otherwise, the total amount should be surcharged and disallowed". The Auditor's Comment said the following: "Supporting documents for Le1,272,604,624 were verified, leaving a variance of Le416,441,125 not available for verification; therefore, the sum should be disallowed and surcharged to the officers who appropriate them" (p209:5.50.3).

The aforementioned instances merely serve as snippet to hundreds of similar cases of misappropriation, violations of financial procedures and numerical irregularities from the APC government that were captured within the report. Just like the previous reports, the 2016 Report is presently before the House of Parliament for which debate is expected to commence on the findings, but unlike the previous regime.

Therefore, citizens are calling on President Bio whose commitment to curb corruption remains on the high spring to provide the requisite assistance to the other arms of government in implementing the mammoth of findings and bring those guilty to book.

"I did not vote President Bio but I believe that he will end corruption in this nation because we have seen that in his earlier steps. He is a no nonsense leader," Abu Kalokoh, a resident of Freetown was quoted on a telephone conversation during a morning radio programme.

Courtesy: Mohamed Massaquoi (Mass)


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