President Bio flip-flops on ministerial reappointment over stolen Chinese rice

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 August 2020:

Emily Kadiatu Gogra – the impugned deputy minister of basic and senior secondary education who was sacked by president Bio, and charged to court just four months ago by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for her involvement in the disappearance of 50,000 bags of rice donated by China to feed poor school children in Sierra Leone, was yesterday reinstated by president Bio who is believed to be basking in sunny Lebanon where he is holidaying.

In April 2020, the ACC announced that after several months of investigations by the ACC into what the Sierra Leone Telegraph  dubbed the “Chinagate Saga”, it had charged five people with corruption, including Alpha Osman Timbo – the minister of basic and Senior Secondary education for corruption.

The stolen rice was meant to assist the government in feeding hundreds of thousands of malnourished school children across the country.

Also charged to court for corruption  were  Emily Kadiatu Gogra – the Deputy Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (Photo); Charles Tom Kamanda – the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education; Mamusu Massaquoi – Director of Nutrition in the School Feeding Programme; and Zainab Binta Kamara – a business woman who was caught by police packaging some of the alleged stolen rice for sale.

All of the accused including Minister Alpha Timbo were charged with fifteen counts of corruption offences, including misappropriation of public property, contrary to Section 36(1); failure to comply with applicable procedures and guidelines, contrary to Section 48(2)(b); conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, contrary to Section 128; converting property knowing same to be proceeds of corruption for the purpose of disguising the illicit origin, contrary to Section 52(1)(a); and abuse of office, contrary to Section 42(1), of the Anti-Corruption Act No. 12, of 2008 respectively.

According to the ACC, between October 2019 and December 2019, Alpha Osman Timbo, Emily Kadiatu Gogra, and Charles Tom Kamanda, misappropriated Forty-Nine thousand bags of 50 Kg rice, meant for the government’s school feeding programme.

All three were jointly charged with one count of misappropriation of public property, contrary to Section 36(1); one count of failure to comply with applicable procedures and guidelines, contrary to Section 48(2) (b); one count of conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, contrary to Section 128; and one count of abuse of office, contrary to Section 42(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act No. 12, of 2008.

Mamusu Massaquoi – the lady in charge of the government’s School Feeding Programme misappropriated forty-nine thousand bags of 50Kg rice, was charged with one count of misappropriation of public property, contrary to Section 36(1); one count of conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, contrary to Section 128; and three counts of abuse of office, contrary to Section 42(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act No. 12, of 2008 – alleged to have been committed between October 2019 and December 2019.

Zainab Binta Kamara – a local businesswoman, was accused of converting four thousand – one hundred bags of 50Kg rice, meant for the school feeding programme – alleged to have been committed between October 2019 and November 2019.

Zainab was charged with one count of misappropriation of public property, contrary to Section 36(1); one count of conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, contrary to Section 128; one count of converting property knowing such property to be proceeds of corruption for the purpose of disguising the illicit origin, contrary to Section 52(1)(a); one count of concealing the true nature of property which is the proceeds of corruption, contrary to Section 52(1)(b); and one count of possessing property knowing same to be the proceeds of corruption, contrary to Section 52(1)(c) of the Anti-Corruption Act No. 12, of 2008.

Sending the accused down for trial, the ACC said that it “wishes to reassure the general public of its determination to curb graft at all levels in Sierra Leone, especially in the implementation of the Free Quality Education programme”.

But last month, to the dismay and disappointment of many in Sierra Leone, Justice Cosmotina Jarrett, discharged the former Minister of Basic Education, Alpha Osman Timbo; Emily Kadiatu Gogra – Deputy Minister of Basic Education; Charles T. Kamanda; Mamusu Massaquoi and Zainab Binta Kamara – on all fifteen count charges of corruption related offences without proving their guilt, after the ACC lead Prosecutor – Calvin Mantesbo, informed the Court that the ACC had decided not to continue with the case any further – in what is referred to in law as “nolle prosequi”.

But today the credibility of the ACC and the president himself has been dented further, following yesterday’s reinstatement of Emily Kadiatu Gogra to go back to work as deputy minister of basic and senior secondary education, though not proven innocent or guilty.

According to sources, it is understood that the sacked minister of basic education – Alpha Osman Timbo, has also been reinstated into his previous job as minister of labour. But there has been no fomal statement from State House about his reappointment as the Sierra Leone Telegraph goes to press.

Corruption in high places in Sierra Leone will never end, as long as the culture of impunity is allowed to flourish by a president who pretends to care about fighting corruption.

7 Comments

  1. Currently, the unfortunate project of the “AYAMPI People’s Congress” (APC) party is to solidify the “FALSE EQUIVALENCE” idea that the SLPP is equally corrupt without any proof. Our patriotic and credible Anti Corruption Commissioner has done the unthinkable within just 2 years, by improving the credibility of our nation in the fight against corruption to almost 80% and that has really angered the members and supporters of the destructive APC party. Now their current mission is to destroy that achievement through propaganda. This is not the first time that Mr. Ben Kelfala has lost or withdrawn a corruption case from the court, because it also happened with the Deputy Chairman Minkailu Mansaray of the APC party.

    However in that case, there were praises and jubilation by the APC supporters. But now that no case was found against our CREDIBLE Minister Alpha Timbo and others, they are trying to destroy the integrity of the ACC commissioner. Unfortunately for Mr. Timbo, this is not the first time he has been accused of corruption, because the former APC government launched a two years investigation for the then Sababu project which resulted in his total exoneration.

    As patriotic citizens we have to respect the processes and procedures of our institutions, that are now respected around the world. The current reality is Sierra Leone is one of the LEAST CORRUPT countries in Africa, so the destructive APC party has to live with that. Below is the link to prove that our current ACC is now APOLITICAL. https://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/former-mines-minister-and-deputy-chairman-of-opposition-apc-acquitted-of-corruption-charges/

  2. There is no iota of doubt that the people of Sierra Leone are being governed by a MAFIA regime, whose objective is purely to divide and conquer. Citizens who are in the opposition are viewed as ENEMIES while supporters and elite members of the regime can STEAL our meager resources with absolutely nothing coming out of it. The ACC has been transformed into an executioner entity, extorting and oppressing opposition members while those in the ruling regime are given a pat on the back for corrupt practices.

  3. No more words to say – since day one i have always maintained that this President and his cronies are not straight shooters at all, but tricksters and fraudsters out to milk the system completely dry. Yup, I saw them coming from countless thousands of miles away, armed bandits disguised in the dusty robes of desert travelers out to protect their own, yet giving the impression they were in search of water to quench the thirsts of our dehydrated people. It was all a brazen lie; before those criminals saddled their horses and mounted, some of us knew exactly where they were headed. A Stargazer is just too clever to let anyone pull the wool over his penetrating eyes.(lol)

  4. It is a pity in our country. How can someone boasting to fight corruption and encourage the act? This is a manifestation of witchhunt to the opposition All People Congress party. How can you fight corruption against people not working in your government and you are boasting of fighting corruption, while members of your government are free to do whatever pleases them. Is that the new direction, if Mr President you call it new direction. I am disappointed in you.

  5. Until the ACC starts to bite, and stop barking, there is very little credibility left in them for the public of Sierra Leone to have any semblance of faith in them. Maybe it is about time MPs in Parliament summoned this incompetent bunch to answer questions, that have been troubling Sierra Leoneans. What is stopping them from doing their job? Maybe an independent body should be set up across party lines to investigate the workings of the ACC. More like to investigate the investgstors. Otherwise, the chronic cancer of corruption that the ACC is meant to investigate and fight, both past and present politician will be another box thinking exercise. The ACC NEEDS TO BE RESCUED. Right now it is crying out for leadership.

    Meanwhile, they are contributing more to the cancer of corruption, by drawing salaries from the state and not even bothering to turn up for work, or do what they are paid to do. It all comes back to the same old problem. Lack of willingness on the part of the political leadership to tackle this menace in Sierra Leonean society. The biggest road block to our development. If president Bio shows the determination and resilient to tackle this problem he likes to talk about, then the problem of corruption will be confined to the dustbin of history. Just look at the difference the Nigerian president Buhari is making, since he made fighting corruption his top priority.

    If a Nigerian leader can succeed in fighting corruption, no other African leader has anymore excuses, not to do the same. Nigeria was once the chess pool of corruption. Sierra Leone is not far away from that libel. The Rwandan president is also one you can take a leaf from how it is done. If everything else fails Mr president, get foreign-trained anti corruption officials from Rawanda to show us how it is done. We should not only use Rwanda to export our RUF convicts, but to import the good that country have shown they are capable off.

Tell us about your views

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.