Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 January 2024:
While President Bio has been busy plotting against and chasing opposition politicians to bring them down in a frenzied vendetta war that has engulfed the country in a dangerous political crisis, his closest political lieutenants and senior government officials have been busy dipping their hands in the cookie jar – stealing public funds.
According to a statement by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) published yesterday after immense public outcry, both the Clerk of Parliament – Paran Tarawally, and his wife – Abibatu Paran Tarawally are being investigated for corruption and abuse of office.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to inform the general public that it had commenced investigation into Corruption allegations against the Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Paran Umar Tarawally and his wife, Mrs. Abibatu Tarawally.
“The Commission is investigating allegations that the Clerk of Parliament employed his wife without due process and that since the said employment, Mrs Abibatu Tarawally has not been reporting for duties but received salaries. This raises serious questions of Conflict of Interest and abuse of position by the Clerk of Parliament.
“While investigations continue, as a condition of her bail, Mrs Abibatu Tarawally returned the sum of One Hundred and Thirty Thousand (New) Leones (Le 131,000) from the One Hundred and Fifty-Six Thousand (New) leones (Le156, 000) she received as Salary for the 10 Months she was on payroll, according to records obtained from the Account-General. Meanwhile, Hon. Paran Umar Tarawally and Mrs Abibatu Tarawally are on bail pending further investigation.”
But the ACC is being accused of double standards in dealing with cases involving the SLPP government officials and ministers and misrepresenting the facts of the case to minimise the gravity of the crime.
A payslip seen by Sierra Leone Telegraph (Photo), shows that the wife of the Clerk of Parliament had been bogusly employed to work in parliament and receiving state funds falsified by her husband for more than the ten months alleged by the ACC.
Records show that Mrs Paran had indeed been receiving a net monthly salary of over Twenty-Three Million Leones from state funds, at least since 2021, not ten months as alleged by the ACC in an attempt to falsify the records and minimise the seriousness of the crime.
Although Abibatu Paran Tarawally was recruited by her husband to work in Parliament as HR Officer, she never showed up for work whilst living a life of luxury at the expense of the poor people of Sierra Leone who are struggling to buy one meal a day.
In addition to her monthly salary, Mrs Paran was also in receipt of state funds to pay for her medical bills, rent, and utility allowances.
Critics say that this case is just the tip of the iceberg and that hundreds, if not thousands, of ruling SLPP party officials are bleeding the country dry, starving the poor nation of Sierra Leone of much needed funds that should be spent on education, healthcare, provision of clean drinking water and electricity.
Many in the country are now describing the ACC as nothing more than a weaponised institution of state that is designed to go after opposition politicians and the weak in society, while state officials including the President and his wife are allowed to graze on public funds with impunity.
Paran Tarawalie is not new to corruption and wrongdoing. Last month, a Parliamentary Commission investigated a personal and unlawful decision by Tarawalie to sack over one hundred parliamentary staff believed to be mainly from the north of Sierra Leone, political heartland of the opposition APC party.
As calls for the immediate sacking of Paran Tarawalie grow, it has been revealed that during his university life, the Clerk of Parliament was a ring leader in political violence and student corruption. A member of the fraternity called Status Quo, he spearheaded several student unrests, student electoral malpractices, and embezzlement of student union funds.
Speaking under anonymity to the Siera Leone Telegraph yesterday, a senior citizen said:
“In national politics, he was one of the SLPP hawks and desperados who was deployed in the northern region to disrupt the 2018 elections in that part of the country which is widely regarded as an APC stronghold. During the tally process, along with the current minister of Foreign Affairs, Timothy Kabba, Dr Alpha T Wurrie, Alpha Timbo and a host of others, he represented the SLPP at the regional electoral commission’s Tally Center and he was the loudest and most disruptive during that process. At some point, he was spotted at the election’s office at night on a mission to sabotage election computers servers.
“Daring and unconscionable, he would do anything in pursuit of his agenda. Even in academia, Paran has no scruples. Along with the then Inspector-general of Police, Ambrose Sovulla, he was among lazy and criminal-minded individuals who enlisted themselves at a non-registered, nondescript so-called Dominion University which conferred PhDs under a mango tree at a village outside of Freetown.
“And Paran, the not-so-honourable, had the temerity to insist that members of parliament and public institutions must address him as Dr Paran Tarawalie, even after the Tertiary Education Commission, whose responsibility it is to regulate higher institutions of learning, had declared illegal that institution where he irregularly obtained such fake degree.
“In parliament, he has on several occasions without hesitation abused his position both as a member of parliament and as Clerk of the House, to pursue an obnoxious partisan agenda. In the run-up to the infamous June 2023 elections, he led the way in passing increasingly nauseating legislations that resulted in the disgraceful outcome which is now threatening Sierra Leone’s democracy, peace and stability.
“He is on record to have called armed police and ordered then to beat up opposition MPs and throw them out of the well of parliament so that the ruling party could pass the deeply controversial revised Public Elections Act.
“A man with such rogue pedigree has no business serving at such a high level and critical position in an institution that ought to symbolise, represent, and inspire integrity, fairness, transparency and accountability.”