The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 July 2013
Just over a year ago, the Vice President of Sierra Leone – Chief Sam Sumana, almost single-handedly could have wrecked president Koroma’s chances of being re-elected, in his bid for a second term in office.
The Vice President was caught up in one of the country’s biggest corruption scandals. He was accused of masterminding what notoriously became known as the Timbergate affair.
The vice president is now being accused of the fraudulent conversion of several solar lights, meant to provide respite from darkness to thousands of poverty stricken people of Kono.
Two years ago, a documentary secretly filmed by Al Jazeera, showed two business associates of the vice president brokering illegal timber exporting deals, in violation of a prohibition entrenched in the country’s laws.
Shockingly, the vice president escaped justice after he was exonerated by the country’s Anti-corruption Commission. His accused business associates were also allowed to escape justice, as the wheels of state power were set in motion with impunity.
Two American businessmen also accused the vice president of fraud and deception, involving hundreds of thousands of dollars they alleged to have handed over to the vice president in return for political favours.
Many in Sierra Leone believe that the vice president’s habitual misuse of public office and his engineering of contract kickbacks have made him one of the richest politicians in the country.
There are new corruption allegations claiming the involvement of vice president Sumana in another abuse of public office. These fresh allegations relate to several state owned solar panels unlawfully installed at the property of the vice president in Kono, as Dauda Bangura reports:
It is very much clear that what’s meant for the ordinary people of Sierra Leone are now being traced to the private homes of key stakeholders in the country, and Vice President Alhaji Chief Sam Sumana is no exception.
According to an investigation conducted by the press, it was revealed that the Vice President – Chief Alhaji Sam Sumana top the list of public officials that have unlawfully taken personal possession of solar street lights, which are meant for the poor people of Kono.
The Chairman of the local council’s committee on Energy and Power – Councillor Alhaji Fofanah of Ward 64 in Kono, states that Mr. Alhaji Sam Sumana asked the Committee “to install 20 solar street lights in his private compound in Kono. But owing to the fact that the poles were not enough, we managed to install nine poles in his private compound under duress”.
“Since we have been arm-twisted in installing that many in the Vice President’s private compound, we thought we should make up, by installing a few in the compounds of other politicians, so that we will not be seen to be bias”, the Councillor explains.
“We decided to install two in the house of Paramount Chief Paul Garba Saquee of Tankoro Chiefdom, two in the house of PC Kaimachende of Gbense Chiefdom and two in the house of Diana Konomanyi”, he stated.
But when the allegations of solar lamp poles grabbing became breaking news, David Tam Bayoh of Monologue fame, went on to castigate only two people – Diana and PC Saquee – live on air.
He left out the Vice President who had forcefully grabbed nine of the solar lights.
Many people in Kono see this action as hateful and a way of continuing discord in the district.
According to the Local Government Minister – Diana Konomanyi (Picture), the first time she came to know about the installation of two solar street light poles in her private residence at Hill Station in Koidu City, was when she accompanied Balogun Koroma to Koidu, on his maiden visit after being appointed Minister of Transport and Aviation.
“I was shell – shocked when I saw the two poles in my compound… I straight away enquired and I was told that they were installed in my compound by some Indian guys… I immediately sent for them to remove the solar poles from my compound… And they have since done so.”
It is very much clear that what is meant to benefit the ordinary people of Sierra Leone have unlawfully made their way into the private homes of key stakeholders in Sierra Leone, and the Vice President Alhaji Chief Sam Sumana is no exception.
Will the Anti-Corruption Commission investigate these serious allegations, without fear or favour, this time around?