Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 November 2021:
Media reports on the suspension of Sierra Leone’s Auditor General has taken a new twist today, following a letter written to the country’s Attorney General by the Institute of Chartered Accountants, expressing serious concern over her alleged suspension and that of her deputy by President Julius Maada Bio last week.
Whilst many legal experts now believe that the letter seen by the Auditor General – Mrs Lara Taylor-Pearce which formed the basis of her published statement last week, was not addressed to her but to the chairman of the Board of the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) – suggesting that the Auditor General should be suspended pending investigation, the general view now is that in reality Mrs Lara Taylor-Pearce does not have to vacate her desk until she has received a formal letter either from the Board of ASSL or from the president, asking her to go on suspension in accordance with due process.
This is what the Auditor General said in a statement published after receiving a letter sent to the chairman of ASSL from the Office of the President, suggesting her suspension: “I can confirm that I was handed a letter signed by the Secretary to the President to the Chairman of the ASSL Advisory Board, stating that the Attorney General has been asked to set up a tribunal to look into the ASSL for professional performance or the lack thereof. Further that myself and Mr Tamba Momoh, my deputy should be sent on suspension with immediate effect.
“I have not been told what the remit of this tribunal is or what wrongdoing we are supposed to have committed, neither have we been told who the members of the Tribunal are or will be. I should state that ASSL has always maintained the highest standards at all times and we deny any wrong doing in the exercise of our mandate. At all times we have upheld international best standards. I remain ready to cooperate with any tribunal guided by my legal representative, and to defend my reputation anywhere, anytime.”
So far there has been no clarification from State House, the Attorney General nor the Chief Justice confirming whether Mrs Lara Taylor-Pearce has been suspended or not.
But what makes this saga even more intriguing now is that the chairman and Directors of the Board of ASSL are also keeping tight-lipped.
“If I were the Auditor General, I will not budge. I will stay in office until someone hands me my suspension letter,” a senior barrister in Freetown told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
But today, the President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sierra Leone has written to the Attorney General requesting explanation as to why the Auditor General has been “suspended”, and on what constitutional grounds.
This is what the letter says: