Bio gets tough with ministers – housing minister faces corruption investigation

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 January 2019:

Since his election in March 2018 as president of Sierra Leone, critics of president Julius Maada Bio, especially the opposition APC, have accused the president of tribalism and selective justice, in his pursuit of public officials alleged to have misappropriated public funds or abused their office for personal gain.

But today, an official at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that the former housing and lands minister – Dr. Dennis Sandy, who is now serving in the same capacity as Housing Minister, is being investigated for corruption and abuse of office.

It is understood that Sandy is keeping his job for now, subject to the outcome of corruption investigations into fraudulent private land deals.

What makes this action by the ACC significant is that, Dr Dennis Sandy is not only a senior minister in the current government, but comes from the Southern political heartland of the ruling SLPP party, and of the same tribal origin as president Bio..

That he is a Mende by tribe facing ACC investigation, may come as a surprise to many of president Bio’s critics who say that public officials belonging to the same tribe as the president are sacred cows in the government. But today, both the president and the head of the Anti-Corruption Commission have proven their critics wrong, it seems.

According to a source at the ACC speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, the allegations which have been made by several private individuals are in regard to the possible abuse of office, contrary to section 42 (1) of the ACC Act 2008.

Just few days ago, there were media reports accusing the ACC of “providing undue protection for Dr. Dennis Sandy”, whom they say “should have long been indicted by the ACC for corruption”.

An unnamed source at the ACC is believed to have told local media that: “Dr. Dennis Sandy has about three corruption cases to answer to the ACC, but the only problem we are facing is the interference of Commissioner Kaifala who always instructs us to shelve the matter for now. All of us at the Commission are now confused as to the hidden reason(s) for the undeserved protection of the Lands Minister by somebody who wants all to believe he is serious about impartially fighting corruption without fair or favour,” an accusation strongly denied by the ACC boss, when contacted for comments by the Sierra Leone Telegraph last week.

“We will go wherever the evidence of corruption leads without fear or favour,” the ACC boss said.

And with today’s action against Dr Sandy, there is plenty of hope that justice and the fight against corruption will go beyond tribal, political and regional affiliations.

One of the allegations made against Dr Sandy is that, “Dr. Sandy is on record to have sold over 30 acres of community land at Mogegba, Mothaim, Gloucester, etc. in addition to issuing National Revenue Authority (NRA) receipts way below the actual amounts paid to members of the public, who apply for Freehold on various State Lands around Freetown”.

Sources at the ACC said that they are investigating every allegation made against minister Sandy (Photo), and that if found wanting, Sandy will face justice accordingly.

“The president is keen to ensure that the credibility, reputation and image of his government are not stained or brought into disrepute, by the wrongful or criminal action of any public official serving within his government,” a senior government official at State House told the Sierra Leone Telegraph today.

With weeks remaining before the start of  a commission of inquiry into alleged  corruption by ministers in the former APC government of which Sandy was also minister of housing and lands, it remains to be seen whether today’s action against Sandy – a southerner of Mende origin – now in the Bio – led SLPP government, would go a long way to building confidence in the opposition APC, who are questioning president Bio’s sincerity in fighting corruption.

10 Comments

  1. literally, I agree with you Lamin Banya. It’s witchcraft and thus a witch hunt has started. The ACC has the WITCH DOCTOR to find them.

  2. I agree with those who refer to the fight against corruption as a witch hunt, because abuse of office and misappropriation of public funds or stealing public money is a deliberate practice of witch craft. It is a welcoming news to the public to hear of witch hunters that are in town to hunt these witches and wizards. As for the hypocrites who may like to or are now defending these evildoers, they would sincerely not want to have witches and wizards who destroy their entire existence in their lives.

  3. And that frustration, anger and bitterness will continue now and forever Santhkie. What a mess to be cleared by the ACC.

  4. If the allegation against Denis Sandy turns out to be true, it should be seen as the malady which affects most political figures in the country once they are in governance – a distant cry from when they were in opposition.

    While in opposition, they make pronouncements like they are distant relatives of Angel Gibril(Gabriel in Christianity),but when they find themselves in office they transform themselves into the Angel of death, the one that confronts us to take take us to the other side. Like the criminal politicians, this Angel shows no mercy, even though all one’s physical powers at this point are gone, including that of speech.

    Let us not forget that former President Koroma said he would run the country “like a business” if elected. This he did with frightening efficiency by opening the flood gates of corruption as evidenced by the wealth he, his ministers and others amassed during his tenure.

    The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC)is now having to sieve through the trail of mess which his “business” strewed all over the place and force the culprits to clean it up, while repaying the nation the billions of dollars and leones which they stole.

    President Bio has been handed an opportunity on a plate to prove to the nation that contrary to the allegations levelled at his administration in the midst of his “New Direction” slogan, he is not a tribalist or regionalist, and that he is president of the whole of Sierra Leone – all 27,699 square miles of it.

    At this moment, Denis Sandy should be on suspension with pay until proven guilty, whereupon he should lose his cabinet position permanently. As a sitting minister his case should be given priority to foster executive stability in the government.

    The Sandy case shows that there are total professionals within ACC who are ready to leak information to the press regardless of tribal or regional affiliation. Sierra Leone owes them profuse gratitude.

    It is a dilemma for President Bio.

    A belated happy new year to the Sierra Leone Telegraph and many thanks for allowing some of us to vent our frustration, anger and bitterness – an elimination of some of the causes of ill health.

  5. Question: Darkay, what have you been doing with those government lands?
    Answer: I was busy selling the government lands and cooking the books.

    Question: Did you put salt or sugar when cooking the books?
    Answer: Sugar and honey. Sometimes, I add a little bit of salt.

    Question: Did you ask the ACC to help you cook the books?
    Answer: Darkay, the ACC does not put sugar, honey or even salt when cooking the books. They put pepper. It’s hot. It burns. That is my problem now.

    Brothers and sisters, it’s sometimes good to make fun even though serious matters are being discussed or happening. Just to refresh the minds. The arrest or Dr. Sandy just shows us that the commission is not going to spare anyone. We hope that the ACC will do everything possible for them not be seen as carrying out selective justice.

  6. Fighting Corruption is a complete tool to develop any Country. Africa as a Continent which is undeveloped came from this Evil Spirit called Corruption. By killing this Spirit will bring Development to our beautiful Salone, thanks.

  7. I think it is a conflict that a man accused of corruption should remain in his position as a minister in that same ministry pending the outcome of an investigation. There is this thing called “evidence tampering”.
    Mr Sandy should be sent on leave to prepare his defense if we are serious in tackling corruption.

  8. It has show a clear understanding that the SLPP government is investigating everyone, not only those from the Northern province but every government official of the former APC government who we are involved in misappropriation of public funds

    If Dr Dennis Sandy is accused of converting acres of land, let him be investigated by the ACC for misusing public office, and also lose his job. This time there is no room for corrupt politicians.

  9. The much needed anti-corruption crusade in Sierra Leone will only be meaningful if it doesn’t spare anyone, including even the President. This way, the government’s commitment to protecting public resources will be seen as genuine and serious, rather than as a witch-hunt or political vendetta.

    So far, many observers of the anti-graft efforts in the country are delighted with the energetic pursuit of alleged corrupt, erstwhile and current officials of government by the young and apparently no-nonsense ACC boss, Kaifala. The Dr. Sandy case now constitutes a major smell test for him and his commission in this regard.

    And so let the chips fall where they may, no matter whose cow is gored in the process–for unbridled corruption has over the decades been a champion cause for the barefoot poverty that continues to blight that otherwise beautiful and resource-rich country.

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