Lawrence Williams: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 08 January 2021:
Questions are today being asked about the credibility of evidence presented by Sierra Leone’s Covid Response body – NaCOVERC to the country’s auditor’s, whose 2019 Report found massive evidence of misappropriation of public funds.
Many are also questioning the validity of the information published by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Since the publication of the 2019 Audit Report into the management of Sierra Leone’s financial affairs by the government, and the COVID-19 audit report in December 2020, officials and supporters of the Bio government have spared no time and effort in trying to discredit the Auditor General’s findings.
The COVID-19 audit report reveals massive corruption in the handling of the Corona funds by NaCOVERC, the body set up by the government to oversee efforts in tackling the pandemic.
Contracts for the procurement of vehicles, motorbikes and other items were “hugely inflated” to the tune of almost Le5 billion.
Of significant concern has been the disappearance of a 5KVA electricity generator donated by the Chinese government to enable Sierra Leone’s response to the pandemic; 47 laptops procured by NaCOVERC could not also be found; vehicles valued at billions of Leones were over-priced.
These issues, including the State’s loss of $5.5 billion in timber export have generated lots of concerns from within and outside Sierra Leone.
These stunning revelations have so far embarrassed the government, causing their apologists and apparatchiks to engage in acts of calumny, aimed at maliciously discrediting the auditor general’s findings.
Government’s apologists and apparatchiks claim that both audit reports are full of material misstatement or factual errors.
Today, the Audit Service Sierra Leone held a press conference in Freetown, where they responded to criticisms and denials of their audit findings.
Evidence presented by the auditors at the press conference showed that the 50KVA generator is still missing, contrary to what the Anti-Corruption Commission has said.
The auditors also disputed information being peddled about the missing 47 laptops and more.
Many are now worried about the decision of the ACC not to name some of those individuals who are refunding or paying back public funds they have misappropriated. Are there names being withheld because they are ruling SLPP party patrons and supporters? This is what Lamrana Bah – a journalist and commentator said:
“On 4th January, 2021 the Anti-corruption Sierra Leone (ACC) informed the media through a press release of a Le5.2 million recovery of funds used to procure personal high-end gadgets by Ministry of Health Officials that was mentioned in the COVID-19 Audit Report. The Permanent Secretary then at the Ministry of Health, Abdul Rahman Musa Fofanah who refunded the money was named.
“On 7th January, 2021 the ACC again in a press release informed the media of another Le220 million recovery relating to the 47 laptops in the COVID-19 Audit Report paid by a staff at NaCOVERC, the Procurement Officer at IHPAU and a businessman. On this, no one was named.
“Yesterday, NaCOVERC Spokesman, Solomon Jamiru says they are not aware that any of their staff is paying back monies for the 47 laptops.
“We will all agree that the ACC has been very transparent in naming individuals and institutions associated with corruption and we appreciate their unprecedented actions on the Special Audit Report on COVID-19. Now, in the spirit of transparency can the ACC please tell us who these officials are and the businessman and his company? Can we know those who are paying back our money?”
You can watch the Audit Service Sierra Leone holding a press conference yesterday in Freetown with the media: