Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 August 2016
After weeks of intense investigation, three senior heads of Sierra Leone’s football association, including the president Mrs. Isa Johnansen were last night arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
According to the head of the ACC, the three senior FA officials – Mrs Isa Johnansen, vice-president – Brima Mazola Kamara and the secretary general – Christopher Kamara, were arrested because of what he referred to as “discrepancies in the financial statement of the SLFA relating to donor funds.”
All three officers of the FA were detained overnight at the central criminal investigations department (CID) in the capital Freetown.
But they were to be released today on a hefty bail set at Le 500,000,000 (Five Hundred Million Leones) respectively, with one surety each – an owner of a property valued at a minimum of Le 500,000,000 (Five Hundred Million Leones).
This unprecedented swoop on the big fish responsible for running football in Sierra Leone, comes after the recent arrest of the younger brother of the country’s vice president – Momo Bockarie Foh, who was secretly caught on an audio recording, backed by a letter that he personally signed, plotting to steal $3,000 from the ministry of social welfare bank account.
Sierra Leone has one of the lowest football performance records in Africa. And many believe that this poor performance is because of rampant corruption and lack of investment by successive governments.
According to the ACC, the FA officials had persistently failed to adequately respond to requests for accountability by the ACC.
The officials had refused to turn up for questioning when invited to do so; “in writing and through other means to report to our headquarters, but they disregarded our invitations”.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph today asked the Anti-Corruption Czar – Ady Macauley, to respond to accusations from supporters of the president of the FA, who say that the arrest was politically motivated.
“Well I have a job to do, and that is what I am doing. I have no control over the way people think and it’s the fact of life. I have a fidelity to my conscience and duties. My office is not a political party office. (Photo: Ady Macauley).
“I arrested the younger brother of the Vice President and there were no accusations of political manipulation. I arrested staff of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority and there were no accusations of political manipulation,” he replied.
A few days ago the ACC launched what it called “Operation Thunderbolt”, to bring to justice those in the country believed to have committed crimes contrary to the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.
A key witness wanted by the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission in the ongoing ministry of social welfare corruption investigation is on the run and nowhere to be found. Abdul Gegbai, who was named by the permanent secretary of the ministry of social welfare as the intended recipient of $3,000 plot to take cash out of the ministry’s account has gone into hiding.
The ACC and police are also searching for Ben Fornah who is wanted, with regards to the ACC investigation into alleged corruption at the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority.
But as operation thunderbolt kicked off at 5am last Saturday, amid rolling September thunder, corruption fugitive Santigie Kargbo – aka Santos’s luck ran out.
After spending three years on the run evading justice, Santigie Kargbo who was charged together with Solomon Kata in the NRA trial three years ago, was arrested last Saturday morning, after a weeklong surveillance by ACC officers.
ACC officers had received tip off that Santos had slipped back into Sierra Leone to conduct family business after escaping to Guinea three years ago, where he has been hiding. He has been charged to court and now facing trial.
As the long arm of the Anti-Corruption Commission stretches across to snatch senior football association executives and several others, including the younger brother of vice president Victor Foh, question remains whether this is the light at the end of the tunnel that Sierra Leoneans have been wishing.
Is this the beginning of the end of rampant corruption in Sierra Leone, or should the ACC be doing more to prove that its long arm can reach anywhere the evidence leads – including government ministers whom are regarded as sacred cows?
Well done Mr. Macauley. May I express my most fervent congratulations for the good job you have begun. The Sierra Leone people expect much more from you Sir; in this huge task with which you have been confronted.
Please do not falter in your genuine aim with responsibility and the conviction to curb down corruption in government offices, and top management positions in our society.
You have been assigned this main role to redeem the country from the grip of avaricious and heartless individuals among us.
Keeping with the saying, “persistence is power” Sierra Leoneans hope that this effort will continue until corruption is curbed down to the least minimum level in this country. Do not allow yourself to be deterred by selfish forces among your pairs who may try to pull you down.
Carry out your job with true-hearted sincerity. Always keeping in mind that massive corruption and graft in government offices are the root cause of Sierra Leone’s backwardness today, and the calamity in which the immense masses of the people are going through – next to absolute poverty.
This will provide you and your team the strength to accomplish your responsibility to the Sierra Leone people.
This is the most ridiculous circumstances I’ve ever seen happened in the history of the nation, were they can punish SLFA officials for losing a critical match against the African defending champion, which should have made history for Sierra Leone to qualify for the African nations cup.
I applaud the Anti-Corruption Commissioner for fabricating a good reason and collaborating with the president to arrest and detain these almost heroic official, if the outcome of the match has been victorious.
When did the ACC realize that SLFA officials are corrupt? And would that arrest have happened if our national team had been welcomed home by a massive and jubilant crowd?
This just proves the fact that in Africa only winners have followers and are respected.
What are you talking about Mr Fallay?
Senesie Junior Boima,
The Motto of Albert Academy (AA) is: Esse quam videri (“To be, rather than to seem (to be).” I referenced this Motto of AA in a mishap at NUC in mid 1990’s.
As for memory lane, the Motto of my own school, St. Francis Sec. Makeni, is: In veritate salus (“In TRUTH there is Salvation. Or, Salvation is there in TRUTH.”)
Yes, “Viva St. Francis; The School Of Languages; Viva Alumen; Keep The Banner High; You’ve Got To Show Your Mettle; Show Love For Your School; And Keep The Banner High.”
Mr Macaulay, I am a bit lukewarm in heartily congratulating you in your selective justice in pursuing your job at the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Are you an old Boy of Albert Academy(AA) during the 1989/90 academic year, when I was repeating my GCE O Level at AA from an other school? If you are, I remember your wise counsel as our senior student to us – whilst you were doing your Advanced level in AA at that time, to join the Rotary Club in Sierra Leone.
Please keep up the work and prove that even President Koroma cannot stop you from doing your job, by your probing into the allegation of Mr Kargbo then Head of Sierratel, about Ernest Koroma’s dictate and authorisation and involvement in the day-to-day management of that national Telecommunication company, that the President and his family are actively involved in.
If you can investigate into that matter and have the President impeached and dismissed, as was done in Brazil, then we in the diaspora will know you are doing your job. Remeber AA Academic motto: RATHER TO BE THAN TO SEE
Well done Mr Macauley, but when are you going to open up investigations into allegations of corruption involving the brothers and sisters of president Koroma? The younger brother of president Koroma is appointed as consultant engineer for the government.
His role is to advise on the feasibility of large-scale engineering public sector projects in the country, for which he pockets a cool 25% fee, despite not qualified as an engineer. He plays a key role in deciding how public procurement contracts are awarded.
Do you not feel Sir, that you have an obligation to open up investigation of all the allegations of corruption being made against the Koroma family?
Also, has the ACC shut the door and all possibility of charging to court, those cited by the Auditor General’s report into missing Ebola funds as most culpable and responsible? Where is your sense of justice Sir?
I am glad to see that you are going after some of the middle strata corrupt elements in this society, but you must do more to prove to the people that you are not implementing selective justice, while the president’s sacred cows are let loose at State House.