Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 March 2021:
Africanist Press editors – Chernoh Alpha M. Bah, Matthew Anderson, and Mark Feldman last night published another shocking report of alleged unbridled corruption and abuse of office by president Bio and his wife Mrs Fatima Bio.
According to this latest expose by the Africanist press, the “Sierra Leone President, Julius Maada Bio, and his wife, Fatima Jabbe Bio, collectively withdrew a total of over Le30 billion Leones (more than US$3 million) from the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL), the country’s central bank, for alleged travel expenses in fiscal year 2020 alone, despite bans on international travel due to the coronavirus pandemic”.
“The Africanist Press discovered that the more than Le30 billion included a cumulative Le8,684,733,037 (over US $868,000) withdrawn by the President and Le1,847,601,064 (over US$184,00) by Madam Fatima Bio, all in foreign currencies. Two presidential aides, Musa K. Jajua and Mohamed S. Bayoh, withdrew a total of Le11,368,330,000 (over US$1 million). In addition, two SWIFT wire transfers totaling Le2,387,719,500 (about US$238,000) were allegedly used to pay Davis and Dann Limited (a private air charter service company) for round-trip airfare to Lebanon, and another cash withdrawal in foreign currency of over US$400,000”.
According to the authors of the report, “President Bio was elected on a promise to enforce fiscal discipline, and reduce waste and graft in public spending, including reductions in foreign travel by public officials.”
The report reminding that “President Bio announced in Parliament on May 10, 2018, during his state opening address: “My government will develop and introduce a standardized overseas travel policy for the public service and covering all categories of workers, including government ministers as part of additional expenditure control measures”.”
“An internal memo dated August 1, 2019, from the Office of the President addressed to all heads of government ministries, agencies, and departments announced a temporary freeze on overseas travel by public officials: “The President has directed that with immediate effect all ministers, ministers of state, deputy ministers and all other public servants should not embark on official overseas trips, except for statutory engagements, until further notice. Participation at statutory meetings must be cleared with His Excellency the President on the submission of concurrence for the use of public funds,” wrote Secretary to the President Julius Sandy on August 1, 2019.”
“However, despite these public pronouncements and promises, President Bio and his wife spent much of the first two years in office making frequent trips to Europe and Asia, drawing public criticism on the purposes and significance of these travels. Critics of the President say the number of overseas trips is now over 70 international trips in two years, a record that exceeds any sitting president of Sierra Leone since the end of the country’s civil war in 2002.
“Towards the end of 2019, however, Jacob Jusu Saffa – Bio’s finance minister – proposed a new legislative provision to grant President Bio unregulated access to travel money. The Finance Ministry’s Finance Amendment Act of 2020 called for an amendment to Section 65 of the 2016 Public Financial Management Act, which is the law that regulates government travel expenditure. The amendment substituted the law with a new provision that would have allowed Bio unregulated access to travel money. Section 42 of the proposed 2020 Finance Act requested Parliament to approve the new legislative provision for non-accountable use of travel funds by the President and his deputy for all international travels. The proposed law specifically provides in Section 42(5) for “non-accountable imprest to be provided for daily international travel expenses, excluding purchase of tickets incurred by the President and Vice President.”
“The first transaction on that day was an outward SWIFT (international wire) payment (FT2024015064) of Le1.088,781,100.00 (about US$108,800) made to a private air charter service company, Davis and Dann Limited as cost for a chartered aircraft from Lungi International Airport to Beirut. The second transaction (TT2024066186) was a cash withdrawal of US$410,000 (Le4,058,184,100.00) by the president on that same day – August 27, 2020 – allegedly for medical bills.”
You can read more on this latest Africanist Press (AP) report here, and take a look at the documentary evidence published by AP: