Mayor and senior administrators of Freetown City Council to face parliamentary probe

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 November 2021:

The Clerk of Sierra Leone’s Parliament on Monday wrote a letter to the Chief Administrator of Freetown City Council (FCC), inviting Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, the Chief Administrator and departmental managers of the council to face the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee for questioning as part of parliament’s review of the Auditor General’s Report of 2019 Financial Year.

According to the letter, the meeting which is scheduled to take place this Friday, 26th November 2021, will look at all financial records and documents relating to all projects and activities financed by the government after approval by parliament.

Observers say that this FCC parliamentary probe is part of the wider strategy of the SLPP government to link the suspension of the Auditor General and the pending investigations by a tribunal into allegations of maladministration and unprofessionalism, with the government’s determination to remove Mayor Aki-Sawyerr from office.

But critics of both the Auditor General and Mayor Aki-Sawyerr are accusing the Auditor General on the one hand of failing in her duties to fully audit the activities of the FCC in 2019; and the mayor on the other hand, for failing to provide all of the record and documents requested by the Auditor General to complete the 2019 auditing process.

The Auditor General in her 2019 Report said:

“Transform Freetown Priorities not Linked to the Council’s Budget.

“The Council is mandated according to Section 67 of the Local Government Act of 2004, to prepare annual budget which should reflect the priorities and needs of the locality as contained in the Local Council’s Development Plan. The budget should balance income and expenditure by way of financial estimates of revenue and expenditure. In its Transform Freetown Priorities, the Council identified development needs and mapped these in different priority areas.

“Even though the Transform Freetown Priorities should form the basis for the preparation of the annual budget of the Council, the Council however failed to link these priorities to the 2019 budget. As a result, the 2019 budget of the Council was not complete due to this omission. Additionally, the projects implemented by other agencies on behalf of the Council were not audited because of lack of information on them at the time of the Audit.”

The FCC’s response to critics was swift yesterday. This is what it said in a statement received by the Sierra Leone Telegraph:  “Please note that ASSL has undertaken a performance audit of the donor implemented projects listed in the #TransformFreetown 2019 report. Please also note that the latter report was produced as part of a policy of transparency and accountability that builds trust with all stakeholders. Donor implemented projects is different to donor funded projects.

“If the project is implemented by a third-party NGO selected by the donor then funds do not come to FCC so there is nothing to audit in FCC’s financial statements. The donor implemented projects can be subjected to a separate performance audit and that is the case for the #TransformFreetown projects in question.”

Commenting on this issue, a senior politician said: “The intimidation continues. Parliament has invited Mayor Aki-Sawyerr to answer questions regarding the 2019 Auditor General’s report whilst the publication of the 2020 Auditor General’s report has been stalled by the highly controversial suspension of Mrs Lara Taylor-Pearce. This is a distraction. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr has nothing to answer. What Sierra Leoneans want to know is “what’s in the Auditor General’s 2020 Report that the SLPP government is afraid of?”

See project document below – Transform Freetown One Year Report:

Transform Freetown One Year Report

Profile of Projects Implemented by NGOs for and on behalf of FCC 2019

 

4 Comments

  1. Why is it so difficult in Sierra Leone to be candid and honest? The Mayor is a public officer, accountable to the people of Sierra Leone and Freetown in particular. It is her duty to be transparent and provide a clear overview of how she spends the public funds allocated to her for the delivery of project deemed for the wellbeing of the people of Freetown. The Auditor General equally has the responsibility to audit all accounts of public departments fairly and honestly. This is not a witch hunt but a responsibility she willingly signed and took an oath to undertake for our beloved Sierra Leone.

    I am not a politician, but it is within the remits of the President to ask the Auditor General to step aside while issues pertaining to her unprofessionalism and inability to fairly do her job are investigated. The accounts of FFC must be audited thoroughly and the Mayor has the responsibility to provide documentary and physical evidence of all projected completed and partially completed together with a clear financial overview.

    All Sierra Leoneans should be thanking the President for taking such a bold step to ensure that all public service accounts are auditor with transparency and fairness.

  2. If I understand the whole issue, the Mayor and her colleagues are going to come out of this unscathed. Given the rather mutual suspicion and venomous atmosphere which exists between the Bio administration and FCC , this would have been a case in which ACC would have been immediately brought in to explore the probability to at last trip the Mayor and remove her from office.

    The Bio government has become notorious for ignoring constitutional procedures to remove their enemies from the public eye – the latest being Auditor-General, Lara Taylor-Pearce because she was ready to pierce Bio and his gang in some uncomfortable places with her annual report. I hope they are decent and intelligent enough to distinguish between suspension and dismissal in order to continue to pay the lady her full salary until the empaneled so-called tribunal has the guts to tell Bio the truth.

  3. Bra, they can knock themselves out.
    The ramping up of tribalism is a favourite of the traitor who betrayed his comrades.
    However, while they may think they are attacking Creoles, they are merely setting the stage for another conflict, as the other tribes will see what is happening and react accordingly.

    • This is an other of Bio’s pet projects. Vendetta politics. Hardly the sort of politices our country deserves and never asked for when people placed their trust in Bio to make the necessary changes that our country requires in a world devastated by the Covid19 pandemic, and climate change.And in our case uncontrolled corruption in government. There are no magic bullets to tackle some of the myriad of problems facing our country. But it will help if Bio come up with the right policies, and marshal the whole country to look in all directions, to develop our country. If he had campaign on implementing ethnic cleansing in our public services sector as the main driving force of his government, or insert it as a manifesto pledge, I doubt if the Sierra Leonean voting public would have given him a looking.

      The issue we have here, his government have failed to meet the targets of majority of the manifesto promises he made , and now to cover his failures, and divert public attention on the bread and butter issues affecting families up and down the country, he is picking a fight with the people that are working their socks off to diliver for the people. If Sierra leone was a miltray power, Bio might have been waging wars on our neighbours to give us something to think about. Alas we are not, so he chose his soft targets in the country for political brinkmanship. So far his actions has gone above and beyond of what is expected of him.

      Seems to me the only thing that Bio and his government are capable of doing is to manufacture crisis of confidence on two of our female public figures that are doing a stellar jobs. Mayor Akin Sawyer and Mrs Lara Taylor the auditor General. I think is about time the international community, the main backers of his government, rein in him or read the riot act to him. His government behaviour is unacceptable. And is unlikely to produce anything good , but more suffering for the people of Sierra Leone.

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