Tiangay Ramatu Umaru: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 06 February 2022
Whilst some people seek to know the truth; others want to build a story using big big words to confuse and fool people. It’s a good thing we now have Google, dictionary and a former Chief Minister who can tell us what egregious means. But let me save you the hassle: egregious means outstandingly bad; shocking in a way that is noticeable. So glad we have Sierra Leoneans teaching us other words we can use to describe those that “steal from the state without blinking an eye”.
So, the real truth is that, the ACC seems desperate to find a fault, any fault with the Mayor, so they can do away with her – in short get her suspended. They are literally digging up everywhere – in holes, boxes, trees and with organisations that have supported her. Calling everyone who has ever associated or supported any of her #TransformFreetown activities for questioning. It’s a witch-hunt, a vendetta! On another day, we will look at the premise – what is it that makes them so desperate to get the Mayor. I wonder how many other elected officials the ACC is pursuing with such intensity.
The Mayor went on six trips with Ms Kargbo (Photo: Ms Kargbo seen here), FACT. Ms Kargbo is a consultant at the Mayor’s Delivery Unit, FACT! Mrs Kargbo is a professional who has developed a close working relationship with the Mayor, FACT. The trips taken were for work, attending meetings with organisations such as Bloomberg, Global Parliament of Mayors and C40 Cities – FACT! In all the trips, there were processes followed, tickets for two trips were bought by FCC, money for ticket wasn’t given to Ms Kargbo, cost of hotel was accounted for and receipts provided to FCC upon return.
In FACT, in one instance where there were monies left over, Ms Kargbo returned the unused funds to the coffers of the FCC. There are records to prove this (but those people, bent on denting her character won’t mention these facts. These are not the actions of a corrupt person who is bent on lining their pockets with public funds) – these are all facts! No one is hiding, in fact all these facts have been there. In October last year, the Mayor wrote an open letter presenting these same facts. So those who write articles, quoting biblical passages, fire will surely burn them and their egregious lies.
The facts – Ms Kargbo went on 6 trips, the FCC approved the funds, both the Mayor and the Chief Administrator signed. In fact the vote controller signed the payment voucher, the following words appear on the signature box of the payment voucher “I certify that the above expenditure has been incurred wholly and exclusively for the purpose of Government of Sierra Leone transaction in accordance with all laws and regulations currently in force and that sufficient uncommitted funds are available to meet it.”
Other facts that they fail to mention, which shows the one-sided narrative, is that, as a direct result of these trips, Ms Kargbo was instrumental in raising more than $4million (4 trillion Leones) in inward investment that has directly benefited the city and citizens of Freetown. They definitely don’t want you to hear that. The people of Freetown, this money that was so allegedly “scandalously” acquired for our city, shall they tell donors to keep it then?
If the ACC is charging that traveling to seek resources for the development of our dear Freetown is corruption, then surely the $4million (4 trillion Leones) raised should be rejected! But of course, they are not asking for that. Because they don’t really want truth or justice or fairness, they want to bring people down who are fighting to make this city better.
Mayor and Ms Kargbo, I urge you to fight to clear your name, I urge you to not fear the ACC. I know it cannot be easy to be constantly harassed in such a way
BUT stay the course, get suspended if that’s what it takes, but clear your name.
I leave you with this quote by Sojourner Truth “I feel safe in the midst of my enemies, for the truth is all powerful and will prevail.”
As a born and raised Freetonian, one of the reasons why I am attracted to the policies of the New Directon government under the leadership of President “Talk and Do”Bio is the cleaning our beloved city, especially the major drainage commonly called “Samba Gutter” which was clogged from decades and was primarily responsible for most of the flooding in the western area. The Fight Against Corruption led by our young ,most respected and trusted ACC Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala , who has improved the Integrity and Credibility of our nation is the main reason for my support.
Using football analog, Senegal was rated as one of the top football team in Africa by FIFA which is one is one of the most respected institution in football as the MCC and Transparent International which are credible institutions that rated Sierra Leone as one of the top country in the fight against corruption in Africa. So as far as I am concerned, Francis Ben Kaifala is the Sadio Mane of Africa. The reality is, although he helped in the process of winning the championship for his country, he still had challenges based on the fact that he missed a penalty in the first half and scored the final penalty during the exact time.
Finally, any patriotic Sierra Leonean should thank President Bio for supporting Mayor Yvonne Aki- Sawyer for transforming Freetown and also respect Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala for making our nation the Champion in the fight against corruption in Africa. I hope and pray our Freetown Mayor will give account for her stewardship which has been questioned.
Below links are examples of President Bio’s humility to our citizens:
In my initial submission I failed to ask President Bio this question: who informs the outside about the progressive Mayor of Freetown (Treetown) to make them wanting to see her personally? I wii save the President from a severe headache by answering the question. It is his pals in the diplomatic community whom he treated to a banquet the other day that are bringing Mayor Aki-Sawyer to world attention while tripping their pal at State House. Strange, isn’t it? Well it’s not. These diplomats have a job to do, they personalise nothing. They may like Bio personally, but find him to give off an unbeatable smell as President, and that’s what they tell their respective governments and institutions. Does President Bio’s foreign minister (David Francis) together with his PhD know this? If he does, he should educate his boss and Ben Kaifala.
When it comes to the politics of Sierra Leone Mayor Aki- Sawyer is not trendy, she is her own woman, she is professional , she has a sense of direction, she has a clear head, she is transparent, she is a fighter who takes no prisoners, she is an environmentalist, she cares about Freetonians and would love to make their lives better. These are all the qualities/traits which Bio and his entire staff, including ACC’s Ben Kaifala, lack. The misery of it is that they’re incapable of learning even as their political life is in peril.
Ben Kaifala is at the forefront to depose Mayor Aki-Sawyer because of using his position, but it’s the whole SLPP hierarchy that wants to see the back of the Mayor, they’re always hatching intrigues which they could use to lynch the distinguished lady. They cannot treat her like Auditor-General, Lara Taylor Pearce because unlike Lara Taylor-Pearce, Mayor Aki-Sawyer was elected. The gnawing part for Bio and co is the international recognition which the Mayor is amassing, evidenced by invitations from other cities in the world,
like New York, London, Berlin, not to mention reputable institutions and individuals. Would it be too much to point out that the crest of the wave which the Mayor is riding on only breeds jealousy, hatred, evil wishes towards the Mayor?
Let us remember that upon taking office Bio seemed to live up to his “new direction “ declaration by travelling to Canada with the Mayor even though they belonged to opposing parties. For many Sierra Leoneans this was an endearing moment for it signaled the end of debilitating and divisive politics. But then ………Was that trip a subtle or clandestine move to placate the Mayor for her not to become the thorn in the side of the Bio government that she has become ? For refusing to compromise her principles Maada Bio has unleashed the bias Ben Kaifala and ACC on her.
Thank you ACC we now know why President Kabba did not give you posecutorial authority. I also now know that we do not need ACC as long as other institution work correctly, there is no need for the country to waste such amount of money on ACC salaries and staff
I must say I have admired the mayor for her hard work and networking skills that has seen the council benefit from funds that few mayors have been able to raise. Whilst I am not supporting any form of corruption it would be unfair to be requesting traveling expenses to be refunded by a consultant in the mayors office who is working behind the scenes to raise revenue for projects that will benefit residents of Freetown whilst other lazy consultants in government earn millions for doing absolutely nothing.
There is a trend; hard working men and women are being hounded out of office. This is the reason why some of our qualified people dont want to be involved in any public sector work as it comes with a lot of challenges and intimidation for doing things differently. The ACC commisioner am afraid has lost the confidence of Sierra Leoneans who had so much faith in him but has been a big let down due to his one sided fight against coruption. But ‘time go fit clock’ our people would say.
Taadaaa! What do we have here folks? Well, as you might have guessed, PAOPA apologist and diehard sympathizers, attempting to sell alternative facts, forgetting that, this platform is not the typical ‘propaganda arenas’, awash with brainwashed and indoctrinated PAOPA followers. Did i hear someone said that the current SLPP regime and ACC in their against corruption cannot be associated with WITCH-HUNTING? Really! Could it be said those with such sentiments are just plain out naive or worst, being economical with the truth?
Ok, let’s rewind. It’s the year 2018, with the annual audit reports archives serving as the primary corroborative evidence, a newly sworn in ACC czar Ben Kelfala received at his desk a GTT report containing a list of mostly former APC officials, accused of rampant corruption and other egregious acts during their 10yrs tenure. With lightening speed, Kelfala went to work, chasing after those former APC officials. To the public amazement, APC corrupt officials were named and shamed publicly, with frequent press releases from the ACC office indicating how much stolen monies have been recovered.
Now fast forward 2022, almost 4yrs later, with 3 annual audit reports so far released, all revealing the same rampant corruptions and egregious acts, implicating almost all MDAs, not excluding State House, and the office of the first lady, all alleged to have involved in massive fraudulent activities, with millions of dollars unaccounted for. To this, what corruption charges have been filed by ACC, or MDAs heads (cabinet ministers) dragged to parliament for questioning, other than APC officials, mayor Yvonne and Dr. Samura Kamara?
Again, 3yrs, 3 audit reports, all revealing massive corruptions at over 90% SLPP officials managed MDAs, however, Kelfala says he couldn’t find evidence to charge his party members. Talking about there is no WITCH-HUNT or biased justice? Are you insane???
The beautiful thing about discussion forums is the fact everyone can make their contribution based on who or what they support. In this case there are three sides to this story: “the truth, the state and the mayor of the city council”. In law, a crime is an act or omission. The ACC from their press conference on the FCC investigation, one can deduce that it is focused on the latter, that is, the Omission of the FCC management to follow prescribed Rules and Regulation. If such is seen as a witch hunt, then we do not need an investigative body like the ACC. If it is selective, then posterity will judge. It is clear that not all cases that have gone to the ACC have seen the light, simply because of lack of evidence. And how do you determine whether or not there is evidence if you do not meticulously follow the investigative steps which unfortunately sometimes can be slow, painstaking and inconvenient. For example Minkailu Mansaray who is very strong and powerful member of the opposition was investigated for several months by the ACC during the reign of the last and current government. He was exonerated after going through all the investigative steps.
Why would some think that subjecting the Mayor to ACC investigation on the allegation that she Omitted to follow the Rules and Regulation for hiring consultant or expert is a WITCHHUNT is mind boggling. One last thing, this entire episode about the hiring of the consultant came at the background of the famous leaked audio of the Mayor where she vouched that she will not allow people who speak “Buwa BiSeh language” in Sierra Leone to work at the FCC under her leadership. To act on her words in that leaked audio, the Major went ahead to hire a friend who is a none “Buwa Biseh speaker” under the guise of a CONSULTANT to do the work of her perceived enemies at the FCC, and this she did without going through the Rules and Procedure (Omission) to hire consultants and experts at the FCC. Looming the success of that CONSULTANT is not the subject under investigation, and it is not the role of the ACC to delve into that
Lastly, in hindsight, I would digress to state that the word “egregious” is not new to many in Sierra Leone. Taking a swipe at the former Chief Minister for using that word in his GT Report is very unfortunate. For many of us who had the opportunity to read some books and plays of Shakespeare in schools in the 80s and 90s, we have come across that word several times. I fondly remember my Literature Teacher in Form Three, Mrs. Lewally, when she was pushed by some rude pupils, she will shout ‘don’t behave like an egregious dog’, a quote she took from the Play King Henry IV, Part II. I hope that, irrespective of our position in the three sides of this case, “the State, the truth and the mayor”, we should allow the wheels of justice to roll without casting aspersions here and there.
It seems to me one is going to stand up for this Mayor…fearlessly against these tribalists in our beloved Sierra Leone…they are breaking the laws,doing whatever suits them…Bring back the voice of courage and truth…Bring back Saidu Conteh
The truth is an open secret. We know since his inauguration, Bio have only one policey that he religiously follow, with out breaking into sweat.. Is called witchcraft and vendettas politics. Bio wakes up in the morning, breathing and figuring out who is, going to be his next victim of political vendettas. We all know the ACC under commissioner Ben Kalifah has become a useful stooge of the Bio one directionless government.Or for better choice of words the useful idiot. Our Mayor and Mrs Kargbo have nothing to prove, the onus is on the State to come up with the evidence. They don’t have any evidence of wrong doing by the pair because it doesn’t exist. They are clutching on dead straws and placing their bets on Ben Kalifah.. So far even where the evidence of corruption exists, within the Bio circle, we’ve seen how, what can only be discribed as selective justice been applied.
It is like one rule for some of Bio’s handpicked circles of friends that are submerged in corruption scandals, and an other rule for our hard working public officials like the Mayor Freetown and her team, that just want to do the right thing and improve the standard of living for their constituents. And through out his tenure, Bio and his team have pulled all the stops to undermined their efforts. The good news the international community understands who are the true representatives of the peoples intrest in Sierra Leone. Any efforts to undermined the Mayor is bound to fail. However because of the political uncertainties created by Bio’s bone head strategies, it scare away would foreign direct investors.
The logic is simple, as an European or African investors, you will think twice to invest in a country where even an international honorary Mayor is not safe from Bio’s tentacles of control freaky.Not surprisingly, Bio’s government have failed to diliver on his manifesto promisess. The Irony of it all Mayor Akin Sawyer and her team, with limited state resources, is doing more for the people they represent than Bio’s government. What a load of hogwash!
More than all that is written is this last few words “I urge you to fight to clear your name, I urge you to not fear the ACC” It is not a witch hunt, it is not political. Had it been so, a political ally (Sylvia Blyden) of the mayor would not have investigated her and even written about this incident. It is just the lack of education as mentioned by this writer that puts us in this situation- everything is political. Even when we see the bad and ugly we tend to support those that commit the offence. Until we as a citizen start standing up and being honest our generation will NEVER see the beauty of this world. FIGHT AND CLEAR YOUR NAME- IT IS NO WITCHUNTING. Nothing to do with APC. In fact this mayor has been supported more than any other mayor in our country’s history.
Sorry Mr Trevor, you certainly have not been following the “The hard work of Ben Kalifah and the ACC” under this Bio government. The person that introduced vendettas politics in fhe workings of what is supposedly an independent entity free from government control, is Ben Kalifah and Bio .Witch hunts well you talk of Dr Blyden. Incase you are new to Sierra Leone or have not been following events, or you just landed from mars, here on planet Sierra Leone under Bio, Dr Blyden was detained for several days back in 2020 with out charge. She was only released do to her legal representation and the behind the scenes work of the then British Ambassador and our Western partners, that were worried her continued detention was undermining the security of Sierra Leone. Her crime is expressing her opinion and having the portrait of fomer president Enerst Bai Koroma.
Please I respect your opinion, but don’t insult our intelligence. If you go back and look at the investigations by tbe ACC, and the people accused of corruption, both APC and SLPP persons, it is hard for you to justify, looking at tbe ratio of persecution of fomer APC public officials and the present members of the SLLP government accused of corruption by the reputable Africanist Press, and no action or even any investigations are under taken against them by the ACC. It will leave any one with sense of justice, that the ACC is practically pursuing a one sided justice. Let me be clear, I am not wedded in any political party.I know we don’t have the death sentence, but left to me anyone guilty of stealing from the state, should be sent to prison without parole. If my father is the president of Sierra Leone and is found to be corrupt, he should be investigated and have his assets tsken away from him and return to the rightful owners, the poor families of tbe people of Sierra Leone that wake up every morning not knowing how to feed their families.
I will be happy to visit him in prison for the rest of his life. There are families in Sierra tbat can’t afford to feed their families. I certainly don’t want to profit or inherit stolen wealth from the Republic of Sierra Leone that undermine our country’s development.