Over state Racketeering President Koroma In Big Trouble

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1924

Sierra Leone’s Governance Transition Report released today at State House by the Chairman of the Governance Transition Team, Professor David Francis has implicated former President Ernest Bai Koroma of conniving with other APC stalwarts to plunder the state with impunity.
The report stated that former President Koroma and his cousin-John Bonoh Sisay were engaged in grand corruption and racketeering enterprises.

See excerpt of the
SierraLeone’s Transitional Report below:
This is the Report of the Governance Transition Team (GTT) as mandated by His
Excellency President Julius Maada Bio when he announced its setting up in a State House
Press Release on 6 April 2018, two days after being sworn into office.

An astonishing level of fiscal indiscipline and rampant corruption by the former APC
Government of President Ernest Koroma had led to the near-collapse of Sierra Leone’s
economy by the time the Government of President Julius Maada Bio was sworn into
office.

The economy was left burdened with external debt amounting to US $1.6 billion,
domestic debt amounting to Le 4.99 trillion or US$658 million, and an exploded payroll
(salaries and other compensation for government employees) of Le.2 trillion (US $263
million) or 14.4% of the GDP. The national currency became moribund, trading at
Le.7600 to a dollar.

In addition, the Government owes vendors (for goods and services)
an extremely large amount of US $1.4 billion. The State’s liabilities as at 30 March 2018 amounted to US $3.7 billion. Inflation as at March 2018 was 17.2. Overall, economic
growth plummeted from 6% in 2016 to 3.7% in 2017. Consequent of the APC government’s inability to close the fiscal gap adhere to agreed actions under the Extended Credit Facility, the IMF suspended disbursement of both budgetary and balance
of payment support to Sierra Leone in 2017.

Other budgetary support agencies including
World Bank, EU, and African Development Bank withheld their budgetary support from
the second half of 2017 to date.
Servicing these debts alone amounts to US $262 million per year. Against this huge
financial burden, the domestic revenue for 2018 was projected to be a paltry US $539
million. This is barely adequate to cover the Government’s recurrent expenditure, not to
mention its commitment to poverty reduction programmes and investing in social
services.

Despite its rhetoric about ‘inclusive governance’, the former Government of President Koroma pursued a policy of ‘tribalism’ and regionalism in its recruitment and promotion of personnel at State House, in Government agencies and commissions, and in diplomatic postings. Ethnically favoured appointments constituted roughly 71 percent of all senior
and middle-level appointments and postings to the country’s foreign missions made by former President Koroma’s Government. Ethnic favouritism was also reflected in the
APC Government’s award of GoSL contracts, scholarships, commercial bank loans and regional distribution of development projects, with the neglect of Kenema and Kono in
terms of roads infrastructure being most glaring.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was politicised and made ineffective, and the
Government routinely ignored the reports and recommendations of the Audit Service
Sierra Leone.

The Governance Transition Team has uncovered evidence of the former APC
Government facilitating the inappropriate acquisition of state’s assets and properties by
relatives and close friends of former President Koroma. There is also evidence of inflated Government contracts being inappropriately awarded to such relatives and friends. This unacceptable practice exacerbated poverty and illiteracy and helped erode confidence in
the integrity of Government.
Recommendations
Immediately direct the Audit Service Sierra Leone to undertake special Audits of
all MDAs to establish how public assets and funds have been utilised by the former APC Government, as provided for in Section 119 of the 1991
Constitution; the Audit Service Act 2014 and Section 16 of the Public Financial Management Act 2016.
Immediately institute a Judge-led Special Commission of Inquiry with a limited
timeframe and mandate to recover all stolen or inappropriately converted state funds and other assets, including buildings, quarters, land and the hundreds of vehicles still unaccounted for (presumably stolen by officials of the APC
Government).

The Commission should recommend for prosecution former APC
officials whose corrupt conduct is found to be particularly egregious. The Commission should also seek an explanation from former officials, under Section 26 of the Anti-Corruption act dealing with “unexplained wealth”, if it determines
them to have accumulated such wealth during their time in public office.

Audit Service Sierra Leone to carry out technical audits of the agencies relating to
telecommunications, energy, and revenue (NRA) as well as NASSIT, the Bank of Sierra Leone and the two state-owned Commercial Banks, which have been
embroiled in loan scandals over the past years.
Review all middle-level and senior appointments made by the former APC
Government in key agencies and departments to determine whether those
appointments were merited and followed proper procedure, or were determined
by ‘tribalism’ and patronage.

Review all contracts and financial transactions entered into by the former APC
Government in the six months before elections were held in March 2018. This should include the contract for Mamamah Airport, several defence contracts, the sale of Government quarters and other properties, and the purchase of vehicles for Paramount Chiefs.

Freeze all payments to all local vendors above Le.400 million until special forensic audits of all the related contracts entered into by the former Government, and of money-generating and related agencies and commissions, including of their financial statements and technical capacity.

Set up an Ethics Office at State House that would serve as the internal control
mechanism dealing with the Code of Conduct for Ministers, Deputy Ministers,
heads of Agencies, Commissioners, Heads of State Parastatals and Board of
Directors; ethical improprieties; public service discrimination based on ethnicity
and gender; complaints of sexual and other forms of harassments, and,
particularly, conflicts of interests involving senior level officials.

Authorise the Law Reform Commission to review the mandate of the 28 national
Commissions with a view to reducing the number of Commissions and
consolidating their mandates. The Commission should also draft a transition law
that would help facilitate a smooth and orderly transfer of power from one elected
Government to another by specifying the date of general and presidential
elections and inauguration of President elect.

Review both the recommendations of the Justice Cowan’s Constitutional Review
Committee and the APC Government’s White Paper, which rejected almost all the
key recommendations of the CRC. The review should include those sections of
the constitution that address citizenship, with a view to granting full rights of
citizenship to Sierra Leoneans who hold dual nationality.

Pursue an active policy to recruit more women in government agencies and
ministries. Women currently represent less than 10 percent of the workforce, in all
Government ministries, agencies and commissions.
By Maddieu A A T Kabbah

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