Sierra Leone Telegraph: 05 February 2022:
The Africanist Press have published a report showing bank records of the country’s Petroleum Directorate paying over Le6.664 billion ineligible rent allowances to consultants and new political appointees recruited by the institution between July 2018 and November 2020.
This revelation comes as President Bio wages political war against the Mayor of Freetown – Mrs Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, for allegedly paying consultants working for the Freetown City Council.
Whilst the Parliamentary Accountability Committee and the Anti-Corruption Commission are sharping their knives to cut the Mayor into pieces for alleged abuse of office, in the meantime the President is busy covering up the stench coming from the massive corruption taking place on the corridors of State House.
Records reviewed by the Africanist Press show that some of the Petroleum Directorate’s rent allowances were paid to newly appointed staff and consultants in direct violation of Sierra Leone’s public finance laws and the Petroleum Directorate’s employment regulations.
Of particular interest in the transactions were rent allowances paid to three political appointees who joined the Petroleum Directorate between January and July 2019.
They included David Alpha Kawa (recruited in January 2019 as Compliance Analyst), Mohamed A.S. Mustapha (recruited in February 2019 as head of procurement and logistics), and Michaela E.B. Swallow (also recruited in July 2019 as Legal Counsel).
An internal audit noted in 2019 that there was no evidence showing that the three staff – Kawa, Mustapha, and Swallow – were recruited through an open and transparent process as required by Section 9(1) of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act (PEPA) of 2011.
For instance, evidence of advertisements, application letters, interview scoresheets, and selection reports showing how these staff were recruited were not available in the personal files for staff at the Petroleum Directorate.
Section 9(1) of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act of 2011 provides that “the Directorate shall also have such other staff as shall be required for the efficient performance of the functions of the Directorate and who shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Public Service Commission,” says the Africanist Press report.
However, the Petroleum Directorate’s administrative records provide no evidence that the required consultation or advice from the Public Service Commission (PSC) for the recruitment of these staff in 2019 ever occurred. In spite of this, Africanist Press found that rent allowances were paid to the three listed staff even though an internal audit in 2019 had already questioned the process of their recruitment.
The report found that ineligible rent allowances paid to all consultants and political appointees at the Petroleum Directorate between July 2018 and November 2020 amounted to Le6,664,973,892.00 (about 11% of the total disbursements to the agency between FY2018 and FY2020).
These transactions include the specific rent allowance payments of Le94,864,000 to Michaela E.B. Swallow on 28 January 2020, and Le86,240,000 paid to Mohamed Mustapha on 28 February 2019 respectively.
These rent allowances do not include the salaries, per diems, and leave allowances also paid to these consultants and political appointees in the Petroleum Directorate, according to Africanist Press which also discovered that more than 80% of the Le60,386,770,705.30 disbursed from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) to the Petroleum Directorate between 4 July 2018 and 27 November 2020 were all used on ineligible rent allowances, travel per diems, and frivolous procurement activities.
“Thus, using the Petroleum Directorate as an example, Africanist Press discovered that payments of ineligible allowances alone (rent and leave allowances inclusive) to political appointees and consultants across all MDAs contribute to more than 50% increase in the national wage bill.
“It is important to also emphasize that these allowances do not include the exorbitant salaries and huge travel per diems usually paid to the same consultants and political appointees across MDAs.
“We provide below transaction details of the rent allowances paid to consultants and political appointees at the Petroleum Directorate from 04 July 2018 and 27 November 2020,” says Africanist Press.
For additional information on President Bio’s wage bill increases, see: https://africanistpress.com
Yes indeed, only in Sierra Leone, under the leadership of the PAOPA new direction government, that the fight against corruption, the enforcement of all established laws and protocols, are applicable exclusively to opposition members and the non-ruling-politically connected. In other words, if you are a member of the SLPP and happen to be highly connected with the PAOPA cult, you essentially have a free pass to steal exorbitant monies from the state, murder citizens, and float all established laws of the land, with absolutely no repercussion.
This is the new direction we were promise. A society and culture of political victimization,unprecedented abuse of established protocols, injustices, and unparalleled applications of our laws. At some point, you have to question the moral compass of those diehard PAOPA sympathizers, perambulating cyberspace, advocating for such immoral and unpatriotic values being pass down to our unsuspecting youth. Where is your conscience? Is it worth it to forgone your soul for this ingrate devil’s incarnates that calls themselves politicians? Sierra Leoneans, wake up!!
When Parliament passed the law to abolished the death penalty, which was subsequently signed in to law by Bio. On that day in State House, at the signing in ceremony, he told his international invited guest,diplomatic corps, NGOs and other stakeholders, and the nation as a whole, that in the past, the use of the death penalty has been used by passed governments as a blunt instruments to suppressed political opponents. He was right because he amongst all people have used that same play book to execute Hon Bambay Kamara,and others with out the benifet of due process law. Just like the way the judiciary and judges were used to harass political opponents in years when death penalty was in force, what we are seeing today, and in the absence of the death penalty, the ACC and Ben Kalifah have been used to do the bidding of Bio, in the name of fighting corruption.
All pretence of the ACC acting independently in observing the mandate given to them as proscribed by the Anti corruption Act, that they should follow the cases where the evidence leads them, has been debunked by cases they have been investigating. Jacob Zuma was investigated for corruption. So is former President of France, Sarkozy, so why is the ACC so timid to go after some of Bio’s handpicked corrupt public officials that are not answerable to the public but Bio himself. The ACC needs to clean up its act. You cannot say you are fighting corruption,whilst your very actions or the lack of transparency and accountability the way you investigate corruption cases render you inept or at worst corrupt yourself. Charity begins at home.
There is really no surprise here, to be honest. The Bio Administration thrives and operates on double standards. It unleashes its ‘anti-corruption’ rabid dogs to hunt down its political rivals – real and imagined – while it feasts in the same breath and to bursting point, on the proceeds of deep-seated and well-honed corrupt strategies and practices. That is hypocrisy for you in all its crassness.
This whole business of rewarding one’s own party faithfuls in contravention of our public finance and employment laws and regulations (in other words, at the expense of tax payers) stinks to high heaven. The question is: what can we as a country do about it? I suppose the ballot box is our only hope. This is to assume that the devious and scheming administration will allow voters the latitude they are entitled to to vote in a new administration should they so desire and see fit.
The current opposition parties, large and small, should all rise to the occasion, bury the hatchet for now, adopt the strategy of a grander national coalition and drive out the PAOPA regime – an unholy fraternity of vampires and vultures.
Former President of the Bar Association of Sierra Leone, Basita Michael could not have said it better:
“Whether it is true or not, for most people the continuous failure of the ACC to investigate countless allegations of corruption and abuse of power against members of the current regime in contrast to its enthusiasm to investigate and prosecute political opponents has unfortunately created the impression that the Machinery of the ACC is being used as a shield for members of the sitting government and as a sword against the opposition with the aim to eliminate political opponents and or keep them in check. This impression has been tightened and heightened due to the ongoing investigation of the Mayor. I humbly believe that perhaps the mistake that the ACC and the government are making is to realise that the harm of this impression on us as a nation far outweighs its benefits.
“Firstly, the impact of such impression questions the very legitimacy of the ACC and the sincerity of the government to fight corruption. Secondly it poses the real risk of revenge when regime change happens. We can’t afford to continue to be trapped in the cycle of revenge. We must avert the risks of that happening again to our beloved countrymen and women.
“It would therefore be ideal for the ACC and the government to change course and take on the fight against corruption impartially and avoid appearing to use their authorities as a weapon to repress opponents. Failure to do so will be detrimental to us as a country and risk undermining the strides the Bio regime has made. “
The Commissioner simply loves picking low-hanging fruits from the Audit reports especially those of a certain colour and from a particular area. He is playing safe, in fear of loosing his job, limb or life, understandably or outrageously, depending on one’s viewpoint, and leaving the heavy-lifting to his non-SLPP successor with the caveat that he/she will respond to the future SLPP opposition in kind, have more appetite and sincerity in the fight agaist our itchy-hands-in-the national-cookie public officials. Ideally, to bring a sense of equity and fairness in the anti-corruption fight, you would expect remedial actions on all items flagged-up will be undertaken to address all concerns raised in each and every audit report before the next annual report is published.
Lest we forget, Ernest Bai Koroma’s Government claimed massive corruption was undertaken by the preceding Ahmed Tejan Kabbah’s Government but opted not to pursue anyone. That decision was taken, perhaps, not in the national interest of peace and reconciliation but in his own self-interest. His Government was not prepared to raise the bar, set up a trap for themselves or sharpen their own sword that they will eventually fall on – a gambit, credit to him, Bio is willing to take. I don’t know precisely Koroma’s thinking at the time but we all know that Kabbah’s SLPP Government Officials were no saints and no less corrupt as Koroma’s APC’s or today’s Bio’s SLPP. I am sure you remember the Gaddaffi rice et al. Financial support from international lending institutions was withdrawn prior to both parties being kicked out of power – a similar fate that will surely befall the present regime, their intense lobbying of the international community notwithstanding. .
God bless the Motherland!