Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 July 2018:
The report of the Governance Transition Committee appointed by President Julius Maada Bio on 6 April to review the status of Sierra Leone’s government departments, ministries and agencies, the economy, as well as public assets, has been submitted to President Bio by committee chairman – professor David Francis.
The report which is said to have exposed massive corruption and mismanagement of public affairs by the former Koroma government, will today be presented to the country’s media at a press conference in Freetown, which will be chaired by professor Francis for questions and answers from local journalists.
The report is said to contain details of ex-President Koroma’s ‘frantic’ plunder of state assets, racketeering by customs and National Revenue Authority officials, widespread tribalism by the APC government, and massive theft by its top officials, including president Koroma.
The committee recommends that president Bio sets up a Special Commissions Court, led by a serving judge, to prosecute APC officials whose corruption and plunder of state’s assets were particularly significant.
Global Times reports that it has been exclusively briefed by several members of the Transition Team on the report’s damning contents. They include:
- The fraudulent sale of government’s 30% share in Sierra Rutile – acquired in 2005 by President Tejan Kabbah’s government – for a mere $12 million by John Bonoh Sisay and his cousin President Koroma, apparently to themselves, in 2012. When Sierra Rutile was bought over by the Australian company Iluka Resources for $375 million, the 30% share they had purchased earned them $113 million.
- The report says that the country was losing $390 million every year because customs officials and NRA officials were under-invoicing and deliberately misrepresenting imported and exported goods. Cement, for example, was recorded as rice, because cement is taxed and rice is not. Cooking oil, which is taxed, was recorded as water, which is not taxed. The report recommends that the import of water should be banned.
- The report says that the government owes some $1.4 billion to local contractors and vendors, but most of those contractors and vendors are APC cronies or relatives and business partners of ex-President Koroma.
- The report says that Koroma’s government purged people of Mende ethnicity in government agencies and commissions, and promoted those of his Temne, Limba and Loko ethnicity with no regard for qualification or merit.
- It says that Koroma employed hundreds of APC partisans to useless jobs, which shot up the government’s wage bill by millions of dollars a year.
- The report rejects ex-President Koroma’s claim in his handover notes that he left a robust economy.
The report says that Koroma left a ‘broken’ economy with an external debt of $1.6 billion and domestic debt owing to the commercial banks and other financial institutions amounting to $658 million. Interest on the loans alone, it claims, amount to $262 million per year but government’s domestic revenue generation was projected to amount to a mere $539 million because of all the under-invoicing and tax, customs and duty waivers this year.
- The report documents the sale of civil servants’ and ministerial quarters by the APC government in its final three months in office to mainly APC partisans at extremely low, under market prices. For example, Fanny Koroma, the daughter of former works minister Alimamy Petito Koroma, bought a well-appointed house on Wilkinson Road for Le.100 million, or $12,000. The price of a plot of land in that area is several times more than that.
- Moreover, as we reported yesterday, the monies deposited in a special account for the sale of 29 of those government properties were stolen by the APC by the time President Bio took over.
- Ex-President Koroma also sold several government properties to his friend, Mohamed Wanza, a notorious criminal who President Kabbah was stripped of his citizenship and deported.
- The former President also bought, at very low prices, government properties on Spur Road and elsewhere that a Cabinet Conclusion had declared must be kept in reserve.
Another of the report’s most damaging findings, according to the briefing to Global Times, was that the Transition Team found experts at the Sierra Leone Roads Transport Corporation who claimed that 100 buses bought by Minister of Transport and Aviation, the grimy Leonard ‘Logus Balogun Koroma, in China in 2014 were massively overpriced.
The SLRTC, for whom Logus bought the buses as a loan to be repaid, had advised against the purchase but were ignored, the report says. In fact, the SLRTC is emphatic that the $12 million allegedly spent by Logus to buy the buses in China can be used to buy 200 better buses.
Many of the Chinese buses have already been wrecked, and that are no spare parts for them. The team recommends a thorough of this deal as well as several other dubious deals costing hundreds of millions of dollars entered into by the APC. They include the Mamamah Airport project and the contract to purchase cars for Paramount Chiefs.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph will bring you full analysis and comments on the content of the Report ponce its made public later today.