Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 July 2018:
The long awaited report of the Governance Transition Team, established by president Julius Maada Bio to look into the manner with which the previous Koroma led APC government ran the country, is out today. It is revealing and makes for sober reading.
It speaks of rampant abuse of office and grotesque levels of corruption by those elected and appointed to serve the people.
The findings are astonishing. It beggars belief as to why anyone elected or employed to serve the people of Sierra Leone – a country classed as one of the poorest nations in the world, where 20% of children will die before their 5th birthday because of poverty and poor health, would steal public funds and manage the affairs of government with such callous and inhumane impunity.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph was going to publish its analysis of the report for its readers, but has instead decided that you read the shocking report here:
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 and 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 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
Findings of the GTT Report
A. Finance and Economic Development
The APC Government inherited a solvent nation with no external debt and with tens of millions of dollars in reserves in 2007.
When the SLPP Government left power in 2007, it bequeathed to the incoming Government Le.524 billion at the Bank of Sierra Leone.
In addition to this, the Koroma Government received within a period of five years over $1.3 billion in external development assistance. The boom in iron ore production and other economic activities in 2012 and 2013 increased the value of the country’s export to an unprecedented $1.6 billion in 2014, and the APC Government claimed that economic growth had accelerated to 21.7% (the highest in the world).
This phenomenal increase in revenue should have been used by the APC Government to create an environment of prosperity and
inclusiveness that would have helped manage expectations, considering that the revenue from extractive industries is subject to changes, often traumatic ones, in part because commodity prices are set by the international market and not by the Government.
Whatever the temptations, imprudent expenditure or public investment decisions must be avoided. Instead, the APC Government of former President Koroma failed massively in its budgetary discipline by embarking on an accelerated spending spree, mostly of prepaid taxes from the iron ore companies in anticipation of bonuses from their export.
Once the price of iron ore began to drop, Government’s indebtedness at home and abroad accelerated, creating an insidious state of dependency and forced austerity.
The result is that the APC Government left an economy 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 domestic debt resulted from the previous Government’s borrowing, using its overdraft facilities, from the Bank of Sierra Leone, the Commercial Banks, and other financial institutions. In addition to those borrowings, the Government owes local contractors and vendors (for goods and services) an astonishing US $1.4 billion.
The State’s liabilities by the time President Bio was sworn into office, amounted to US $3.7 billion. Servicing these debts – that is, simply paying the interests on the loans – amounts to US $262 million per year.
Against this huge financial burden, the domestic revenue projected in President Koroma’s final budget amounted to a meagre US $539 million. This is barely adequate to cover the Government’s recurrent expenditure of wages and goods and services as well as paying the interests on its loans.
According to the final budget statement of the APC Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Momodu Kargbo, on 27 October 2017, the monetary value of imports far outweighed the monetary value of exports, with Sierra Leone registering an increase in trade deficit of US$300 million from US$271 million for the first half of 2017.
Funds to invest in poverty reduction or development must be sourced from donors, if and when available.
Using its customary understated language, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a statement in June 2018 described the state of the economy inherited from the APC Government in the these words: “Inadequate budget revenue and weak spending discipline have led to a sizeable increase in the stock of budget arrears over the last year, representing the main threat to near-term macroeconomic stability.”
In ordinary words, by the time President Bio assumed office on 4 April 2018, Sierra Leone was financially ‘broke’ and almost bankrupt.
The former insolvent APC Government sought to place the blame for this dismal situation on, in the words of former President Koroma as expressed in his handover notes, “the Ebola outbreak and concomitant [sic] collapse in price of our exports like Iron Ore.”
The GTT does not find this explanation plausible. There is no denying that the Ebola outbreak and the fall in commodity prices adversely affected the country. However, the outbreak occurred 7 years into the APC’s administration, and just after the phenomenal rise in domestic revenue in 2013.
In fact, in 2014, the year the Ebola outbreak began, the value of the country’s export was US$1.6 billion, decreasing slightly to $1.4 billion in 2015, when Ebola was contained.
Instead, the GTT found that an astonishing level of rampant corrupt, politically – organised racketeering, mismanagement, graft and lack of fiscal discipline by the APC Government must be blamed for the economic mess and near bankruptcy of Sierra Leone.
Reckless spending, facilitated by the unrestrained use of the Government’s overdraft privileges at the Bank of Sierra Leone, was the norm, leaving the economy substantially burdened by debt. Revenue generation from agencies and parastatals like the NRA and NATCOM was suboptimal, in part because of excessive leakages and tax exemptions, leading to Government being in arrears amounting to Le 115.2 billion between 2015 and 2017.
Indeed, revenue raised by the former APC Government as a ratio of the GDP was substantially lower than that of Liberia and Guinea, Sierra Leone’s comparable neighbours. By March 2018, Sierra Leone’s revenue generation per GDP ratio was 12%, below the African average of 17%, and way below those of Guinea (18%) and Liberia (17%).
Meanwhile, by the end of March 2018, inflation was close to 16%, and the value of the national currency had severely eroded, trading at Le 7,600 to US $1.
This abysmal performance in domestic revenue generation, as noted above, was due in large measure to rampant corruption. This came in several forms, the most subtle and egregious of which was the rampant under-invoicing – with the connivance of senior Government officials – of import and export items at Customs.
Ranking political leaders, senior officials at the Bank of Sierra Leone and at the NRA were complicit in this graft.
There was also the granting of duty and tax waivers, including even Goods and Services Tax (GST), on many mining and other companies, including Sierra Rutile.
APC officials at NRA and Customs also devised an ingenious scheme whereby taxable goods like cooking oil were declared as non-taxable water, cement as paper and other sundry taxable items as non-taxable
commodities. (Photo: Former head of NRA – Haja Kallah Kamara).
These, and other forms of corrupt schemes and leakages, ensured that the country was potentially losing Le.3 trillion (or US $390 million) each year under the APC Government.
The GTT understands that the beneficiaries of these duty waivers gave a percentage of their illegal savings to senior APC and government officials as bribes.
A large number of the local vendors to whom the Government owes US $1.4 billion have murky backgrounds, and many of them have ownership links to top-level officials and family relations of former President Koroma APC Government officials. It is unacceptable for Government to continue to honour those transactions by making payments without verifying the owners of those companies and conducting a forensic audit of the transactions.
The GTT found that a key reason for the significant increase of the Government’s wage bill over the past 10-year period was the appointment of hundreds of APC partisans, many of them unqualified, to extraneous jobs at State House, in agencies and Government Commissions.
The latest Auditor General’s report covering the year 2016 revealed another reason for the explosion of the State’s payroll – “irregularities in payroll records… mainly in respect of consultants on open-ended contracts and staff receiving salaries twice from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.”
According to the report, “a considerable amount of money is lost annually because of systemic inefficiencies or inaction on the part of public officials who are supposed to safeguard public funds.” It should be noted that the Auditor General has repeatedly highlighted this problem over the past years, but the APC Government flagrantly ignored it, like it did many of her other very cogent recommendations.
Moreover, the GTT found a lack of consistency with respect to compensation packages awarded to heads of agencies, commissions and parastatals, with the top and middle-level officials of NASSIT (the highest paid on the Government’s payroll), the moribund Anti-Corruption Commission, and the National Revenue Agency drawing far larger salaries than, say, the top and middle-level officials of the far more effective Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL).(Annex II: See salary profile of officials from selected government agencies and commission).
The GTT examined a number of financial transactions which appeared to be marred by corruption and conflict of interest issues relating to the senior officials of the former Government, and which caused significant loss of income for the State. They include:
a. Income Electrix and Aggreko Contracts
In his inaugural address to Parliament on 5 October 2007, former President Koroma pledged as “the utmost priority of my government… the speedy restoration of electricity supply, not only to Freetown and its environs, but to all district headquarters
He vowed that by the time he would have completed his presidency Sierra Leone would have attained “energy independence.” In the event, his approach to the electricity situation at the end of his 10-year presidency was the same as that at the start of it: instituting “emergency measures”.
The Presidential Energy Emergency Task Force Mr. Koroma set up shortly after becoming President disappeared at the end of his final presidential term. The APC Government’s effort towards the energy sector, in fact, was marred by the same corrosive corruption and ethno-regional favouritism that characterised its approach towards governance.
Soon after the inauguration, the World Bank supported the Government’s energy policy with a grant of US $7 million for a 15-megawatt thermal power station, which, because it was properly managed, helped improve, at least temporarily, electricity supply in Freetown.
In contrast to the World Bank’s project, which was administered using competitive bidding, the US $25 million the President set aside from the Consolidated Funds to procure 25MW capacity plant was grossly mismanaged and pilfered. The Minister of Energy and Power, Afsatu Kabba, used it to award a contract to a little known Nigerian company based at Port Harcourt – Income Electrix Limited, on 23 November 2007, in a bidding process that was as opaque as it was corrupt.
There was no competitive bidding, and Minister Afsatu Kabba (Photo) seemed to have singlehandedly handpicked the company for the
contract, violating the government’s procurement rules.
The technical committee of Koroma’s own Presidential Energy Emergency Task Force, led by Mr. Tani Pratt and Professor Jonas A. S. Redwood-Sawyerr, wrote a letter protesting her action and expressing concerns about the award of the contract with respect to non-adherence to professional advice on financial and technical matters.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development also expressed concern about the contract’s significant financial implications
for Government, which the Ministry at the time calculated would eventually be about US$65.5 million.
A review by the Anti-Corruption Commission projected that the “real cost of the contract could reach US$100 million a year, when penalty charges are levied on unpaid amount due to Income Electrix Limited.”
In the event, though the contract was for the supply of 25MW of electricity, Income Electrix installed only a 10MW plant, which it commissioned on 12 February 2008.
In fact, it turned out that the plant managed to supply only 2-3 MW, perhaps because the cost of running it at full capacity was in excess of US$60 million per year. The Anti-Corruption Commission, under Mr. Abdul Tejan-Cole, summoned Minister Kabba for questioning, and recommended the contract to be cancelled.
Before its cancellation, the inept Income Electrix contract had cost the Government around US $100 million.
Then in December 2017, the GoSL signed a hastily arranged contract with Aggreko International Projects Limited, said to be Scottish registered, for the provision and supply of 20MW for a period of 26 weeks, covering the March 2018 electoral period.
This was another emergency venture with an obviously political twist – the irony being that one of the APC Government’s first decision was to order emergency power, and one of its final ones was to do the same: so much for energy independence.
The Aggreko contract, negotiated by Minister of Energy, Henry Macauley (Photo), was obviously extortionate.
Aside from an initial charge of US$1,690,000, which the Government paid before even the plants were installed, the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) was to pay Aggreko US.35 Cents per Kilowatt of power – about 14 times the rate in Ethiopia – it supplied.
The power services were to be based at Kissy and Wellington. EDSA was also to supply fuel to the company.
At end of the contract period, in June 2018, Aggreko was to keep possession of its power plant. By the terms of the contract, the company could make US $75 million for the supply of 20 megawatts of electricity in three years.
About the same time that the Aggreko contract was signed (December 2017), a Turkish powership called Karadeniz Powership Dogan Bey berthed in Sierra Leone. The APC Government had proposed to sign a 5-year contract with Karadeniz for the supply of 100MW.
Already under pressure from the IMF for its failure to raise revenue because of the many customs and tax waivers, the Koroma’s Government balked at signing an agreement with Karadeniz for the supply of 100MW.
On assuming office, the current Government of President Bio opened negotiations with Karadeniz Powership Dogan Bey. In June 2018, it signed a contract for the supply of 30MW megawatts of electricity for three years for US $40 million. This would save
the Government US $35 million against the corrupt Aggreko deal.
The GTT strongly recommends that Afsatu Kabba, Henry Macauley and both the Income Electrix and Aggreko contracts be investigated with a view to prosecute for corruption
b. NASSIT Ferries and Sewa Grounds Shopping Mall
In 2008, NASSIT’s former Director General, Edmund Koroma (said to be related to the former President) commissioned two refurbished ferry boats from the Netherlands. The ferries were meant to serve passengers plying between Freetown and Lungi International Airport.
However, it turned out that the ferries were rotten, and that repairing them would bring their cost around US $4.06 million. Brought to Freetown, the ferries remained berthed and idle for about two years.
Public outcry over this daylight robbery forced the Anti-Corruption Commission, under the politically ambitious Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, to act.
However, instead of him charging Edmund Koroma and the three other NASSIT officials who were complicit in the theft, the ACC Commissioner sought to recover a fraction of the money they wasted through a settlement. He asked them to return US $450,000 to the state.
It is unclear whether the fine was paid, but Edmund Koroma was soon rewarded with an appointment by President Koroma as the new Financial Secretary for the Government – a far more consequential position. ACC Commissioner also watered down charges his predecessor had prepared against Allieu Sesay, who had been suspended as Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority after Britain complained about his alleged misuse of donor funds, prompting an exasperated Judge to dismiss the charges and free Mr. Sesay in June 2011.
In June 2014 at a meeting in the office of the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Joseph F. Kamara, the Acting Director of NASSIT, Mayor of Freetown City Council, Herbert Williams, agreed on a project to transform Sewa Grounds into a
Shopping Mall and parking lot.
For this purpose, they formed the Sewa Grounds Market Company Limited. The Project cost was agreed at US $36.1million, of which US $27.3million was to be used for “construction engineering and consultancy”.
NASSIT was to invest US$7.5millions as well as provide a loan amounting to US$13,908,057. Many experts consulted by the GTT opined that the project was overpriced and an unwise investment for NASSIT to undertake.
The GTT strongly recommends the investigation of Edmund Koroma, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Herbert Williams, Allieu Sesay and both the NASSIT ferries and the Sewa Grounds Shopping Mall Project.
c. The Sale of Sierra Rutile Ltd.
Before it ceased operations because of rebel attacks in 1995, Sierra Rutile Ltd. produced 25% of the world’s rutile. The company estimates its rutile reserves to be over 600 million tonnes, the world’s largest deposit. Production has been steady since the company reopened after the war with financial support to the Government by the European Union Euro 25 million and after an appeal by late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
As a result of the European Union Euro 25 million investment, the Government of Sierra Leone acquired 30% of the company’s shares by an agreement ratified by Parliament and signed by President Kabbah in 2005.
On 30 April 2012, the APC Government signed two agreements with the management of Sierra Rutile Ltd. seeking to amend the Sale and Purchase Agreement of Government Shares in the company.
It proposed to make a deal with the company worth some US $17.5 million, of which the sale of its shares would fetch US $12,272,636 and Sierra Rutile Ltd was to pay advance tax for 2012-2014 to the tune of US $ 5,299, 368.
In fact, several experts, who wondered why the Government wanted to sell its shares in such a lucrative and strategic venture, estimated that, if competitively auctioned, the 30% shares would sell for at least US$45 million.
It turned out that John Sisay – who is President Koroma’s nephew (Photo), bought the 30% shares using his company, SRL Company, which is incorporated in Sierra Leone, another incorporated in the Virgin Islands, presumably on his and the former President’s behalf.
Disposal of all Government assets must be done through public auction. This requirement was blatantly ignored. APC presidential candidate, Samura Kamara, oversaw the sale at the time as Minister of Finance, and former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Frank Kargbo, provided bogus legal justification for it.
On 12 December 2016, John Sisay and his company, with the concurrence of the former President, sold the 30% Government shares they had bought for US $113 million, part of the sale of Sierra Rutile to another venture, Iluka Resources for US $375 million.
John Sisay, former President Koroma and others made a profit of US $113 million from the sale of the 30% Government share which they had bought for a paltry US $12 million.
This is the sort of organised rampant corruption and theft that has brought the country to near- bankruptcy, and has the potential to erode the legitimacy of the state to its citizens. The GTT strongly recommends that John Sisay, former President Koroma, Samura Kamara and Frank Kargbo be investigated in relation to the fraudulent Sierra Rutile deal.
d. Transport and Ports Management Systems’ Saga
On 27 November 2014, the Government of Sierra Leone (as ‘sponsor’) and Transport and Ports Management Systems, West Africa, Sierra Leone (TPMS,WA-SL), as contractor, signed a contract. The company was contracted to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA) in its non-core activities.
An addendum to this agreement was agreed and signed on 20 April 2017. The agreement and addendum tasked the TPMS,WA-SL to track and monitor all cargos brought into and leaving the port of Sierra Leone. The company levies import and export fees on every cargo, with a schedule of payments set into the contract.
The company was to keep 60% of this and Government was to be given 40%. By this agreement, TPMS should have deposited into Government’s Consolidated Fund US$10,990,216and in 2018 the amount would have been US$4,036,068.
The company was to pay penalty charges of 12% on payments to the Government. Since the signing of the agreement, official records show that TPMS has paid only US$1 million.
The records also indicate that in 2016, the APC Government, without explanation, had this profit sharing arrangement based on percentage of profit revoked, and pegged Government’s receipts from the ports at US $331,000 – a massive potential loss of US $10 million in just two years to the time that the current Government took office.
Since the contract was signed, TMPS has not honored its responsibility under the contract to provide Global Tracking & Maritime Reports to GoSL and NRA, amidst reports of under-invoicing of shipping items or goods, resulting in significant loss of revenue by Government.
The GTT understands that this corrupt arrangement was made to profit Sahr William Ngegba, a major APC donor and Director of the company, at the expense of the GoSL. Mr. Ngegba is also behind a project to expand the seaport at the extortionate cost of almost US $700 million.
The GTT strongly recommends that Mr. Sahr Ngegba be investigated and made to account for the US $10 million that the GoSL lost after this fraudulent arrangement was confected.
e. Passport Deals
In December 2013, the Government signed a new contract with Netpage, which purportedly represents the old British firm, Thomas de la Rue, to produce e-passports for the GoSL.
Thomas de la Rue has been under contract with the GoSL since February 2000 to supply machine-readable passports and their associated issuing system for Sierra Leone.
Jamel Shallop, a Lebanese businessman, owns Netpage, which purportedly provides Thomas de la Rue’s services in Sierra Leone. The new contract was for the purchase of “passport issuing and personalization” from Thomas de la Rue to enable Sierra Leone to “migrate from readable passports to ePassports, and the design of new ePassports.”
The total contract cost amounted to £2,195,360, of which the Government paid £1,680,641 upon signing the agreement. The other substantive terms of the contract are simply bizarre. All funds from the sale of the passports were to be given to Jamel Shallop and Co.
Netpage and the Government of Sierra Leone would earn only the Le 10,000 that citizens pay to obtain the passport application form. The company, in other words, though paid for the service, benefits up to US $100 per passport fee that citizens’ pay to actually obtain a new passport, and GoSL gets only about $1.25.
The GTT strongly recommends the contract with De la Rue and its supposed service provider company Netpage, be urgently reviewed.
Moreover, a verification exercise conducted by the GTT, of the issuance of 1,179 diplomatic passports, revealed that hundreds of ineligible citizens were granted diplomatic passports and that dozens of those passports could not be accounted for.
Two official directives – a 1998 Cabinet Conclusion and a 2007 declaration by President Koroma – restricted ownership of diplomatic passports to the President, Vice President, Speaker of Parliament, Chief Justice, cabinet ministers and deputy ministers, diplomatic representatives and Members of Parliament (this last category was added by President Koroma’s Directive).
However, a list of diplomatic passport holders obtained by the GTT shows such luminaries as ‘housewives’ of senior APC leaders, their business associates and sundry other categories of persons holding diplomatic passports.
The GTT recommends that the issuance of Diplomatic passports be urgently reviewed and that the former Chief Immigration Officer, Kholifa Koroma, be investigated for his alleged complicity in the issuance of Diplomatic passports to hundreds of ineligible holders.
If sold to outsiders, the diplomatic passports could fetch millions of dollars. The former Chief Immigration Officer must be made to account for those passports.
f. Sale of GoSL Properties
For the purposes of this Report, GoSL properties are limited to the houses and villas constructed for government officials, including civil servants; property belonging to the defunct Sierra Leone Selection Trust (SLST, subsequently National Diamond Mining Company); property belonging to the defunct Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board (SLPMB); villas constructed by the GoSL to accommodate foreign officials during the hosting of the Organization of African Unity (OAU villas); and Government land, particularly those around these properties – on Hill Station, Spur Road, Spur Loop, Signal Hill, Wilkinson Road and a few other places.
With respect to those buildings, which the GoSL has across the country to serve as quarters for its employees, their allocation to serving officials, including ministers, had always posed a problem, chiefly because they were too few to sufficiently go around.
A few of these quarters specifically assigned or ‘pegged’ to certain public officers but many are available on application by eligible government officials.
The Ministry of Works and Public Assets, which has overall responsibility for the provision and management of government residential quarters and for establishing policies and procedures to ensure that the allocation, occupation, and maintenance of quarters has not established clear and specific eligibility criteria for the allocation of quarters to occupants.
A performance audit by the ASSL in 2016 found in five locations visited 787 quarters that were occupied across the country.
Because the available Government quarters are not enough to be allocated to the over 3000 senior officials on the GoSL’s payroll, and because a large number of the quarters are in a state of disrepair, Government has had to rent private houses to accommodate officials rather than invest in the repairs of these Government quarters.
Audit Service Sierra Leone calculated that at the end of, Government was renting 27 such private houses at an estimated cost of Le293,900,890 in 2014 and that Government was owning landlords Le145 million for financial year 2014.
ASSL analysis, however, found that some of the rental arrears recorded were fraudulent, and that Government’s “records were out of date and contained numerous and significant errors”. For example, one property in Makeni ceased to be rented in 2010 and the landlord advised us that there was no amount owing by the Government’s tenant. However, the Ministry’s 2014 listing of rental amount showed that the Ministry owed Le14,000,000 rent arrears to the landlord.”
The insufficiency of Government quarters has often caused acrimony. As a result, the Government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah made a Cabinet Conclusion – circulated as memo by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Works, Housing and Technical Management – that all Government quarters should be sold at market value, “with priority to be given to present occupants” with right of first refusal.
The Cabinet Conclusion, however, stated that “some Government quarters in the Western Area and the Provinces should be rehabilitated to house” top officials such as Ministers and “visitors from abroad.” Quarters used by Judges at Bellair Park, guest houses at Brookfields in Freetown, security posts at Hill Station and Government quarters in the Provinces were also exempted from sale.
Funds from the sale were to be invested in NASSIT so that they “will be used to finance the building of additional houses which will be sold or mortgaged to both civil servants and members of the public.”
Significantly for this Report, the Cabinet Conclusion prohibited all properties belonging to the defunct SLST (NDMC) and the SLPMB from being sold, mandating that they should instead be “added to the stock of houses and properties to be reserved.”
No sale of Government houses was recorded during the President Kabbah administration.
In 2010, the Government of President Koroma revisited the issue with a view to carrying out the sale. A memorandum from the Minister of Works dated 28 September 2010 urged the sale of Government houses in the Western Area by February 2011. The memo this time exempted from sale only the quarters for Judges at Bellair Park and in the provinces. It is not difficult to understand why.
The GTT requested, from the Ministry of Works and Public Assets, documentation relating to the status of the SLST properties, SLPMB properties, and the Cabinet Conclusion or authority relating to the sale or offer of Government quarters to Mohamed Wanza, a notorious Lebanese businessman who was stripped of his Sierra Leonean citizenship and deported because of his dangerous and nefarious activities.
In a letter to the GTT dated 13 June 2018, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry J.T Kanu stated that he was “unable to
provide” information of the aforementioned properties and sale because “they do not fall within our mandate.”
Twelve houses belonging to the defunct SLST/NDMC on Spur Road and elsewhere in Freetown were quietly sold to John Sisay, who the GTT understands was acting on behalf of President Koroma, for sums way below the market value that had been set by an independent valuator contracted by President Koroma’s Government itself.
The GTT was informed that the houses were bought for around US $1.3 million, though the valuator had prized them at over US $12 million. The Koroma Government also sold some SLPMB properties, as well as two Ministerial quarter to Wanza for undisclosed amounts.
These transactions raise enough legal, ethical and moral questions for them to be reviewed, and the GTT recommends an immediate review.
The GTT reviewed documentation it got elsewhere relating to many of the extensive assets, including houses, land and other properties, belonging to the defunct SLPMB; 80 such assets all over the country are listed in the Government Gazette, though it appears that only 53 were repossessed by Government.
They show that some of the assets were bought, clandestinely, by former President Koroma and his relatives, and all at below market prices.
The Government furtively sold three SLPMB buildings on Hill Cot Road to an undisclosed buyer, presumably Mohamed Wanza. Note that a Cabinet Conclusion had explicitly stated that the SLPMB properties, like those of SLST/NDMC, must not be sold, and must be kept in reserve.
Mr. J.T. Kanu did submit a list of Government quarters approved and sold at the time, apparently in great haste, beginning in early January 2018 and ending, incredibly, on indecency of making such controversial transactions when the APC knew it was at the point of being replaced, the sales were simply fraudulent.
The list records the sale of 29 houses, many to top APC officials and their relatives. The purchases by Sisay/Koroma are not
included on this official list, for reasons that are not hard to fathom.
The last sale on 29 March 2018, of IRO Villa B 49 at Contonment Road, Freetown, was to one Ibrahim Conteh, for a mere Le.80 million (US $10,000). It should be noted that a plot of land in that area cost several times more than that money.
One house on Spur Road is recorded ‘sold’ to Fanny Koroma, the daughter of then Minister of Works Alimamy Petito Koroma, on 9 January 2018. Described as medical doctor, she is recorded to have paid Le.100 million (about US $12,000), even though the market value for a plot of land in the area is more than ten times that amount.
A special letter from the Minister of Works, Housing and Infrastructure, Alhaji Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay (Photo: left with president Koroma), to President Koroma, dated 5 December 2017, preceded the sale of the house to Ms. Koroma.
It praised Ms. Koroma for her willingness to work “at very, very low salary” [sic], and that this willingness should not cause her to be “disenfranchised in any way.”
This letter does not make clear why Ms. Koroma was singled out among the hundreds of young medical doctors and other professionals working for the Government for the same or lower pay for this privilege, or why not selling Government property at giveaway prices might be considered disenfranchisement.
Chief Justice Abdulai Charm is also recorded to have paid Le.100 million for a house at Hill Station, and Bockarie M. Foh is recorded as paying Le.135 million.
Four other (suspiciously) unnamed buyers are recorded as buying two houses for Le. 50 million each, one for Le.80 million, and another for Le.100 million – all on 28 March 2018, two days before the runoff election that President Bio won.
A ministerial quarter, expressly prohibited from being sold, on Hill Station was sold to Mrs. Vicky Jusu, who is not a civil servant and is therefore unqualified to purchase any Government quarter, for Le.135 million.
Another ministerial quarter at Spur Loop was sold, for a measly Le.65 million (about US$9,000), to Mrs. K.O Seisay, though she is not a civil servant and is, therefore, unqualified to buy any of the properties.
Mr. J.T. Kanu also submitted the “executive summary” of an assessment of the value of many of Government’s properties by Yema Yeliba Property Agency of 9 Off Kingharman Road, Freetown. The assessment, it should be noted, was done in 2001, before the civil war was officially declared over.
It was shortly after the devastation of parts of Freetown by the Revolutionary United Front and the Armed Forces Ruling Council, including of many Government properties.
Property prices were at their lowest at the time, and the valuations provided for the housing were apparently rejected by President Kabbah’s Government because even for that time they were considered to be too low.
Seventeen years later, when property prices in Freetown and elsewhere in Sierra Leone had appreciated more than twenty-fold, President Koroma’s Government dug out this assessment and apparently used it to sell, with frantic urgency, Government houses and properties.
This is the type of organised criminal racketeering that permeated the APC Government of President.
These transactions, where not illegal, but certainly unethical and unacceptable. All such transactions made by the former APC Government in the three months leading to the March 2018 elections must be reviewed. The Government should appoint an independent valuator to make an assessment of the current market prices of the fraudulent purchased houses.
Property that was inappropriately sold, like those of the defunct SLST and SLPMB, must be returned to the State. The GTT strongly recommends that the sale of GOSL’s property by the government of former President Koroma be immediately investigated with a view to prosecute for any wrongdoing.
g. Rent on Government Office
Congruent with the sale of Government houses was President Koroma’s Government practice of renting of private buildings for offices at extortionate cost.
Most of the rented property belongs to top APC officials or their relatives and close friends.
A house belonging to Mr. Emmanuel Osho-Coker, then Secretary to former President Koroma, at Hill Station was rented to Petroleum Directorate – which happens to be nearly dilapidated – for US $145,000 a year.
The building housing the Administrator General was rented from Mr. Renner Thomas at US $92,940 per annum.
Another belonging to Professor Strasser King and his wife Gladys (also a top Government employee), who was the Director of the Strategic Policy Unit in the Office of the President at State House, is rented to NRA for US $82,964 per year.
The GTT accepts that there is nothing inherently corrupt or criminal about an employee of the Government renting out his or her private property to Government at exorbitant prices. But the practice is unseemly and probably unethical given that in many
cases the Ministries and Agencies renting those private homes have their own buildings – for example the massive Electricity House on Siaka Stevens Street – which need only to be repaired.
The GTT believes that the APC Government would simply have opted to refurbish those buildings rather than rent others if no powerful vested interest existed influencing the Government to rent, instead of building or repairing its own structures.
The ASSL is renting property from Sierra Leone Lottery, which is inadequate to house all its staff, at US $40,000 per annum because the Government has repeatedly failed to honour requisitions the ASSL has made to complete constructing its own building.
The GTT recommends that the new Bio Government should end the dubious practice of renting private property to house government MDAs and instead invest in refurbishing Government buildings to provide accommodations for MDAs.
The Table below shows some of the exorbitant rent being paid by the GoSL for buildings housing Government offices:
AGENCY OFFICE LOCATION RENT (US $) OWNER
|EPA||21 Old Railway
|62,000 per year||Alhaji W Jalloh|
|145,000 per year||Mr. Emmanuel Osho-
|82,964 per year||Mrs Gladys Strasser
|85,000 per year||Abu Bangura|
|47,000 per year||Stronge Holdings|
|NRA||37Street||Wellington||35,000 per year||Mrs Alimatu Koroma|
h. Balogun Koroma and Chinese Buses
On 12 May 2014, Leonard Balogun Koroma, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, signed a contract with Liu Jianmin, Vice President of Poly Technologies, Inc., agreeing the purchase and shipment of 100 new buses from Poly Technologies to Sierra Leone.
The Beijing-based Poly Technologies is a Chinese state-own company. The contract covered, in addition to the 100 new buses, the supply of equipment, spare parts and associated training.
The total value of the contract was US$12,291,920 (Le.61.5 billion). The schedule of payment, according to the contract, began with a US$2.4 million deposit on 30 May 2014 to end with the final payment on 31 May 2016. The buses arrived in Sierra Leone in July2015.
They included 50 city buses (having 19 seats each); 30 city buses (30 seats each), and 20 provincial buses (48 seats each).
It should be noted that Sierra Leone Roads Transport Corporation (SLRTC), which was marginalised by Minister Balogun Koroma during the negotiations leading to the contract, had earlier submitted a business proposal for the procurement of 100 buses, prepared in February 2014, stated that it would need “a total of Le26.5 billion” to procure 100 new buses.
This was based on its previous experience purchasing strong and durable ASHOK Leyland buses from India. Le.26.5 billion, is a fraction of the Le.61.5 billion that Balogun Koroma paid for the Chinese buses, which turned out to be far less strong and durable than the ASHOK Leyland buses.
However, though the Ministry of Finance paid the US $12.2 million for the buses, it was considered a loan to SLRTC, which was to manage the buses, but whose own proposal for the purchase of the buses Minister Balogun Koroma had summarily rejected.
The SLTRC found the contract and the buses particularly concerning because it had advised that since the purchasing power of the travelling public in Sierra Leone is low, expensive buses should not be acquired. The corporation preferred buses that are also “low on fuel consumption as rising fuel prices has a direct impact on the entire operational life of the Corporation.”
The GTT understands that many of the buses have already been disabled because they are of poor quality and the lack of replacement spares. In a communication to the GTT (reproduced as Annex VI), the Technical Committee of SLRTC noted the following: “The Committee holds the view that the cost of the buses purchased from China and the social fare structure coupled by the inconsistent fuel support from the Government of Sierra Leone greatly hinder the operations of the Corporation.”
The communication also noted: “The committee holds the view that the US$12 million spent on the procurement of the one hundred buses from China could have been wisely spent to procure at least two hundred buses.”
The GTT strongly recommends that the former Minister of Transport, Leonard Balogun Koroma, be investigated for negotiating this extortionate contract, which suggests that corrupt was his key strong motivation.
i. Government of Sierra Leone Commercial Banks
There are two Government-owned commercial banks, the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (in which Government’s stake is 100%) and Rokel Commercial Bank (in which Government holds 51% of the shares). A perplexing picture emerges from an examination of the financial and credit status reports of the two banks.
The banks have lost millions of dollars from unpaid or delinquent credits, mostly to people who are clearly in a position to pay back on their loans, but also to people who clearly should not be loaned the amount of money the banks had loaned out to them.
In 2015 alone, according to its own records, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank wrote off Le.29.7 billion as bad debt – that is loans it had given to senior APC officers and Ministers which it concluded will never be repaid.
Among the debts it wrote off was one to Africa Sunshine Ltd., which is owned by Leonard ‘Logus’ Balogun Koroma (Photo: Far right) and Alex Mansaray, amounting to over Le.3 billion.
The loan was granted to the company in 2011 mainly on account of what the bank cryptically described as ‘simple deposit’.
Others included Digital Systems, owned by one Alhaji Cole (Le.2.5 billion); Bao Limited (Le.1.8 billion), Sayenu, owned by Ibrahim Sayneu Sesay (Le.1.7 billion); Abass Jah (Le.727,319,294); Club Tourism and Entertainment, owned by Strasser-King (Le.659,874,225); Western African Trading Company, owned by former Minister of Energy Henry Macauley (Le.487,798,843); Chief Tony (Le.238,498,279); Dr. Julius Spencer (Le.106,263,765); former Minister of Information Ibrahim Ben Kargbo (Le.765,570,851) and another Le.159,990,648; Sylvanus Forna Koroma (Le.68,003,404); and Dr. Soccoh Kabia (Le.78,102,904), among many others.
The list has over 100 names and enterprises. For the period from late 2007, when President Koroma took office, to March
2018, when he handed over power, the commercial banks seemed to have prioritized giving loans to APC- connected businessmen and politicians.
Names of persons suggesting that they originated from non-APC strongholds are very few and in between on the banks’ loan lists. This apparent discriminatory practice must be investigated and officially deplored.
By far the most significant loan defaulter is Premier Investment Sierra Leone Co., which is owned by Kabba Khalu, a close friend of former President Koroma. He owes the bank Le.25 billion. This company was also involved in the corruption relating to Ebola
contracts in 2014-2015.
The GTT strongly recommends that the following be investigated with the view to commence criminal proceedings: the management team of Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and Rokel Commercial Bank; Leonard Balogun Koroma; Alex Manasary (Photo); Alhaji Cole; Ibrahim Sayneu Sesay; Abass Jah; Strasser-King; Henry Macaulay; Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo; Sylvanus Forna Koroma; Dr. Soccoh Kabia and Mr. Kabba Khalu.
For its part, Rokel Commercial Bank has written off over Le.80 billion as at 30 April 2018. Unpaid loans to the GoSL, including overdraft withdrawals with special request from the Ministry of Finance, amount to Le.45.1 billion.
The GTT is puzzled by the lack of interest of the Management of these two banks to actively pursue their creditors, many of whom are sufficiently solvent to pay back their loans.
The GTT believes that one of two things, or indeed both, may be responsible for this disinterest. The Managements are utterly incompetent and have no business running a commercial bank; or the Managements may have made surreptitious arrangements
with the creditors whereby part of the loans are paid to them personally, with the understanding that they will no longer pursue full payment of the loans.
In either case, the Management of both Commercial Bank and Rokel Commercial Bank should be immediately replaced and the Government should order a thorough audit of the banks.
j. Ebola-related Contracts
The Government gave all the major Ebola-related contracts to a small network of businessmen, each owning several companies, and all of them with close personal ties to top APC Government officials. As the Auditor-General detailed in several reports, the contracts were awarded on a pro forma basis, and contractors were given huge advances that were way beyond the legal limit.
In fact, all the major contracts – for ambulances, medication, building of treatment centres, and vehicles and funeral hearses – were awarded to little known companies in a non-transparent and non-competitive manner; and standard processes for the
award of state’s contracts, including those designed for emergency situations, were ignored.
The Governance Transition Team is not persuaded by the argument made by APC Government of President Koroma that the financial management lapses documented by the Audit Service Sierra Leone were largely the result of the expediencies of the state of emergency occasioned by the Ebola outbreak, rather than by rampant corruption.
During the first phase, from late May 2014 to the end of October 2014, the APC Government relied mostly on locally generated resources – both state allocations and donations by individuals and businesses in Sierra Leone.
Government expenditure towards the outbreak amounted to Le.84 billion (US $19 million) during the period. The ASSL audit
found that 30% of the funds could not be accounted for.
The second phase, from November 2014 to April 2015, the World Bank’s contribution amounted to US $318 million for Sierra Leone, of which US $33.5million went directly to the Government of Sierra Leone to support NERC.
The African Development Bank contributed US $12 million. This money, though better managed after the contracting of a
fiduciary agent, was used to award contracts to a tangle of corporate names, most of which had not been known before, and many without physical offices or registration records, according to the findings of the ASSL.
Contracts awarded in 2014 to Ramesco General Supplies of 43 Sani Abacha Street, Freetown, to procure 10 ambulances, 5 Toyota Hilux trucks, one Toyota Landcruiser, 48 motorbikes, medical supplies, PPEs, infrared thermometers, and chlorine amounted to US $7,496,423.97. All the contracts were awarded in a wholly non-transparent manner – without invitation for bids, without advertisement, acceptance letters, or specifications of service and goods.
The World Bank, which reviewed the contracts, found that the goods were overpriced and some of the delivery was of poor
quality. It expressly requested that its donated funds should not be used to make the payment to Ramesco.
A major contract was awarded to Premier Logistics and Supplies Ltd., though its owner, Kabba Khalu, was in 2013 prosecuted (along with several others) in Freetown for allegedly conspiring to defraud the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank of US $6.9 million.
Premier Logistics & Supplies was contracted to procure 10 Hard Top DM-SRS ambulances, 20 Hard Top Standard Basic ambulances and 20 Hard Top customised utility/hearse vehicles amounted to Le12,700,885,120. The contract was improperly entered into, and the goods were overpriced.
Kingdom Security Logistics, owned by Mahmoud Bahsoon, was selected as sole source for the procurement of 20 ambulances. An advance payment of 50% of the contract to Mr. Bahsoon was disbursed even before the contract documents were signed.
The company charged the Government additional costs of US $360,000 over the US $1.1 million to airfreight 17 of the 20 ambulances, and it took several months for the remaining 16 to be delivered, no doubt negatively affecting the response effort.
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee held hearings on the findings of the ASSL relating to these contracts but its report was a whitewash. Worse, some of its limited recommendations were not implemented.
The GTT recommends that President Bio’s Government should investigate the management of Ebola funds. That the Government
should urgently revisit this issue because in December 2017, a human rights organization, Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL-SL), and survivors of the Ebola outbreak sued the GoSL in the ECOWAS Court of Human Rights alleging that Government mismanaged the response effort, leading to many unnecessary infections and death.
The new Government of President Bio should settle this embarrassing but important case out of court with the plaintiffs. The GTT recommends that the new Bio administration should launch its own investigation into the matter with a view to prosecuting and punishing those who mismanaged the Ebola funds.
The GTT further recommends that all proceeds from the successful prosecution relating to the Ebola Funds and contracts should be used to compensate Ebola victims and survivors.
k. Corrupt Arms Deal
In 2013, the Government awarded Nabih Basma, a friend of then Defence Minister Paolo Conteh and owner of West Star, a US $15 million contract to supply military vehicles to the Sierra Leone Army.
According to ASSL’s audit for the financial year ending 31 December 2014, Conteh and Basma had this contract overpriced by US $6.1 million.
The GTT strongly recommends that Mr. Paolo Conteh and Nabih Basma be investigated and directed to refund the sum of US$6.1 million to the state.
The GTT also reviewed a number of other contracts, all of them amounting to around US$190 million. The contracts were awarded to a small pool of vendors – with West Star being the most prominent – who happen to get most APC Government’s contracts.
All the contracts are overpriced, sometimes by over 300%. One contract for the construction of a military barracks in Kambia for US$44 million does not even specify the number of structures to be built. Moreover, no justification is provided for the contract in any of the contract documents the GTT reviewed.
Fortunately, no funds have been remitted for this particular contract, which the GTT recommends to be immediately cancelled. (Photo: Palo Conteh).
Instead, the GTT recommends that when the funds are available, the GoSL should prioritise refurbishing the existing barracks to a modern standard for the military.
The GoSL should review all the other contracts with a view to either cancelling them or significantly reducing their prices. The contract given to Dr. Abdul Karim Koroma, who is not an historian or professional writer, for writing the history of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces for US $108,857 must be reconsidered.
Dr. Koroma was paid an initial US$10,885 on 16 March 2016. There is no record that he has produced a draft or even an outline of the study. No further payment should be made to him before he submits an acceptable draft of the study, to be determined
after a review by a professional historian.
The GTT recommends that all the companies that were implicated in fraudulent contracts relating to the response to the Ebola outbreak should be blacklisted and henceforth not be considered for any GoSL contract.
B. Social and Human Development
Despite the former President’s boast of increasing investments in education and health, many schools in the country are in dilapidated conditions, hospitals are poorly equipped, if at all, and Government drugs were routinely diverted to be sold in private clinics and pharmacies.
Low morale of teachers and health workers, examination malpractices in schools, frequent strikes by teachers and lecturers, and the proliferation of counterfeit drugs have been the result.
According to the Annual school Census 2016, gross enrollment at the primary school level is at 30.2%, one of the lowest in the region, and only two of five adult Sierra Leonean can read and write English, the country’s official language.
There has been a total disruption of sporting activities in part because of the politically motivated rift between the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) and the Ministry of Sport.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs became an extension of the APC Youth Wing, and the Ministry of Social Welfare was reduced to irrelevance.
The outbreak of Ebola in 2014 exposed an astonishing level of dysfunction in the health sector prior to and during the crisis – the result of a combination of neglect and corruption by Government officials, particularly those in the Ministry of Health and
The neglect and corruption undermined the response efforts, leading to the rapid spread of the virus and the death of 3995 people, including 221 health workers (more than the combined total for Guinea and Liberia).
To its credit, the former APC Government embarked on a large infrastructural programme, with the construction or rehabilitation of several important road networks. This effort, however, was undermined by the exorbitant costs of the road construction projects, due in large part to rampant corruption; the poor quality of many of the expensively constructed roads; and the triumph of tribal political instincts over national interests consideration.
For example, the former APC Government did not refurbish or construct a single road in Kenema, one of the country’s most important population and resource centres, because the city has few people who are not Mende, and it remained vocally pro-SLPP.
The cost of most of the APC constructed roads was almost certainly corruptly inflated. The expansion – not construction – of Wilkinson Road, for example, merely 5.2km, began with Le50.5 billion but was later inexplicably increased to Le80.3 billion,
US $18.5 million.
It was a grotesquely poor job, without proper drainage system, leading to massive flooding making the road almost impassable during the rainy season. Lumley-Hill Cut Road, 3.4KM, cost Le.51 billion (US $12million), in other words US $3.5 million per kilometer; and the Lumley-Tokeh road, 21KM, cost Le147 billion (US $33 million).
The GTT strongly recommends that ALL roads contracts awarded by the former APC Government be investigated to ensure accountability for public funds. The GTT further recommends that the former Minister of Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Alimamy Petito Koroma, who was instrumental in the award of most of those contracts, should be a focus of the investigation.
The exemplar of APC Government’s cosmetic and corrupt approach to infrastructural development is the two solar-powered ‘traffic lights’ placed, close to Youyi Building and Main Motor Road in Freetown. The best that can be said about them is that they are aspirational.
But this concession is obviated by their sheer cost: the GoSL claimed it paid, from the consolidated revenue, US $603,000 for the two lamp standards.
Sierra Leone is an ethnically and culturally diverse society, and the results of national elections tend to reflect patterns of ethnically or regionally influenced voting. The key aspiration of any Political Party leader elected President in such a circumstance must be inclusive governance and national unity. In that, the APC Government failed woefully.
Despite its rhetoric about ‘inclusive governance’, it practiced extreme forms of ‘tribalism’ and regionalism in its recruitment and promotion of personnel at State House, in government ministries, in diplomatic postings, and particularly in state parastatals and
Upon taking office in 2007, the APC Government summarily dismissed dozens of senior officials perceived to be supporters of the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party because they were of Mende and related ethnicity.
It summarily replaced them, often without any consideration for merit and the imperatives of legally binding contracts, by individuals of Temne or Limba ethnicity, many of them from the APC presidential home district of Bombali.
By the end of its second term in office in March 2018, such politically and ethnically based appointees dominated all government ministries, departments and agencies. They constituted roughly 71 percent of all senior and middle- level appointments made by former President Koroma’s Government.
The APC Government also consistently demonstrated a lawless attitude towards the principles and letter of the Constitution, the supreme law of the land.
In the process, the former APC Government he undermined both the rule of law and the separation of
Former President Koroma provoked a constitutional crisis by sacking the elected Vice President, Alhaji Samuel Sam Sumana, and replacing him with a handpicked member of his APC Victor Bockarie Foh, a decision that, upon a legal challenge, the ECOWAS Court of Human Rights found wanting.
The former President undermined the independence and integrity of the judiciary, and politicized all the national security agencies, especially the Sierra Leone Police.
The GTT strongly recommends that the conduct of the Judiciary and, in particular, the Supreme Court, be investigated in relation to the unconstitutional removal of the elected Vice President, Sam Sumana.
Salary Profile of selected MDAs as at April, 2018
Monthly salary – Agency Total monthly staff salary:
|7||SALWACO||Dr Joe BenDavies||Advisor||15,000,000|
|16||NASSIT||Amara kargbo||Deputy DG||50,519,955|
F. Statistics Sierra Leone
The former APC Government also seriously compromised the effectiveness of Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) so as to make politically motivated decisions, including the creation of new districts and the gerrymandering of new constituencies, mainly in the APC’s strongholds.
In fact, until the appointment of Professor Osman Sankoh, a competent and credible scientist in March 2018, SSL had been a dysfunctional and corrupt institution without proper leadership.
Beginning in June 2017, the former Minister of State, Finance and Economic Development, Foday B. L Mansaray, effectively ran it aground using Dr. Sullay Kamara, who continues to hold on to the position of Chairman of the Statistics Sierra Leone Council, as head of a Transitional Management Team.
Recruits were not properly vetted, and most of the middle to senior level personnel are alleged to be unqualified and incompetent; many are corrupt. Mr. Mansaray and the Transitional Management Team systematically looted millions of dollars in funds remitted by the Government to SSL to the point that by the time the new Statistician General took over management, SSL only had the equivalent of about US $50 in its account.
Four of SSL’s vehicles were recently recovered from the home of Mr.Mansaray; 26 of 40 vehicles the Government purchased for the conduct of the 2015 National Housing and Population Census simply disappeared, presumably stolen by the APC appointed officials, and almost all remain unaccounted for.
The former Statistician General, Mr. Mohamed King Koroma, who built himself several large mansions probably from funds stolen from SSL, is also believed to have looted some of those vehicles and is still to return them.
The GTT strongly recommends the immediate investigation of the following five Statistics Sierra Leone’s directors:
Lansana Kanneh (finance); Abu Bakar Turay (Economics); Peter S. Bangura (demographic statistics); Andrew Johnny (geographic
information system); and Ibrahim Kargbo (data systems). They are all under investigation for corruption and theft; and have returned to work after hiding for a few weeks following the election of the current Government.
In addition, the GTT recommends that FBL Manasary; Dr. Sullay Kamara; Mr. Mohamed King Koroma; and SLL Transition Management Team be investigated with a view to commence criminal prosecution against them.
Almost all state-created Commissions – including National Youth Commission, National Commission on Democracy and sundry others – were politicized and reduced to irrelevance by the former APC Government.
Pledging ‘zero tolerance’ to corruption upon taking office in 2007, former President Koroma initially made important legal innovations to combat the scourge of corruption.
In 2008, he amended the Anti-Corruption Act 2000, expanding its scope and granting the ACC prosecutorial powers. He also authorized the publication of the reports of the Auditor General for public consumption.
However, in 2010 he allowed his Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Abdul Tejan-Cole, to be intimidated into resigning by senior officials close to him that the Commissioner had felt necessary to prosecute using his new powers.
The ACC has since then, despite its powers, been an ineffective and very politicised institution headed by an inexperienced and overpaid political lackey, Ady Macauley, who was seen attending several APC political campaign meetings just before the March 2018 elections, in violation of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008.
He ignored corrosive cases of corruption like those involving Ebola-related funds and the misuse of funds for annual Muslim pilgrimage, Hajj, by senior state officials.
President Koroma’s Government conveyed the same ambiguous message with respect to the Auditor General’s reports: allowing the contents of the reports to be circulated but failing to act upon almost all of the very important recommendations therein.
This action, or lack of action, shows less a commitment to combating corruption than contempt for important state institutions and the country’s legal strictures.
The GTT strongly recommends that Ady Macauley be investigated for this failure to investigate and prosecute senior APC officials implicated in the Ebola and Hajj scandals.
The Governance Transition Team also has evidence of the former Government facilitating the inappropriate acquisition of state’s assets and properties by relatives and close friends of the former President Koroma. There is also evidence of inflated Government’s contracts being inappropriately granted to such relatives and friends.
This unacceptable practice helped to erode confidence in the integrity of Government, undermined its legitimacy, and led to significant financial losses by the State.
In writing this Report, the GTT understood that this has been a stocktaking exercise as well as a forward-looking one.
Therefore, the general thrust of the recommendations below is aimed at improved governance, sound fiscal management, improved social service delivery, and, ultimately, a more responsible, transparent, and accountable governance.
The recommendations fall into two categories. The GTT deems the first set of recommendations as imperative, meaning that they require immediate action by His Excellency the President.
The second set of recommendations address broader governance deficiencies, are meant to be both preventative and ameliorative, and can be implemented more methodically. The overarching aim of the recommendations is to set a standard for democratic accountability. They are made with the understanding that business as usual is simply not an option.
The SLPP led Sierra Leone to independence in 1961; and SLPP Governments have always provided the benchmarks and standards for good governance. President Bio’s Government must maintain this record.
1. The President should direct Audit Service Sierra Leone to immediately undertake a Special Audit of all MDAs and in particular, the issues of financial mismanagement and rampant corruption highlighted in the GTT report, in accordance with Section 119 of the 1991 constitution; the Audit Service Act 2014 and Section 16 of the Public Financial Management Act 2016.
This recommendation is imperative.
2. The President should immediately institute a Judge-led Commission of inquiry with a limited timeframe and mandate to recover all stolen or inappropriately converted state funds and other assets, including vehicles, buildings, and land. The Judge-led Commission should recommend for prosecution of all former APC officials whose corrupt conduct is found to be particularly egregious.
The Commission should also seek an explanation from former APC Government 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.
This is an imperative recommendation.
3. The President should order the Public Service Commission to immediately review all middle-level and senior appointments made by the APC former Government, particularly those that were made after the summary (and politically motivated) dismissal of the previous incumbents, to determine whether those appointments were merited and followed proper procedure, or were determined by ‘tribalism’.
This is also an imperative recommendation.
4. The President should place a freeze on the payment of all local vendors amounting to US $1.2 billion until special forensic audits of all the related contracts entered into by the former APC Government, and of fiduciary and related agencies and commissions, including of their financial statements and technical capacity.
The Audit Commission should, among others, seek to determine whether funds were improperly withdrawn and converted for private or political uses, including for recent APC political campaigns. The award of contracts should also be investigated to determine their propriety and fidelity with established standards.
The Commission should investigate the finances of ACC to determine, among others, whether fines it had imposed on Senior APC officials of state and state agencies were paid, and what happened to those funds.
This is an imperative recommendation.
5. As a preventive measure, the President should set up an Ethics Office at State House that would serve as the internal control mechanism dealing with 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.
6. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice should set into place measures to enforce the surcharging powers granted to Audit Service Sierra Leone, so that it can directly disallow any unauthorised or non-transparent expenditure by any Government Ministry, Agency or Commission.
This would help reduce waste and rampant corruption.
7. The President should authorise the Law Reform Commission to review the mandate of the 28 national Commissions with a view to reducing the number of Commissions, to about half the current number, and consolidating their mandates. The anticipated Independent Commission on Peace and National Cohesion should subsume the National Commission on Democracy and the National Youth Commission.
This will save the Government significant amounts of money, which might then be used to fund programmes of the remaining Commissions.
8. The President should order the review of both the recommendations of the Justice Cowan’s Constitutional Review Committee, which conducted nation-wide consultations and produced a cogent report, and the APC Government’s White Paper, which rejected almost all the key recommendations of the Committee.
Many of the recommendations of Justice Cowan’s Committee will improve the 1991 constitution, by clarifying some contentious or ambiguous issues. The provision of the Constitution with respect to citizenship should also be reviewed with a view to removing any restrictions on the rights of citizens who hold dual nationality.
9. An active policy to recruit more women in government agencies and ministries must be pursued to ensure the rapid increase of women, who currently represent less than 10 percent of the workforce, in all Government ministries, agencies and commissions.
10. Government vehicle fleet management is nonexistent, or where available is ran on an ad hoc or pro forma basis. The Government must seriously consider setting up a fleet management system that would remove the burden of maintenance, depreciation and fueling of vehicles.
11. The Government should immediately replace the top management of the two state-owned Commercial Banks, which have been embroiled in unpaid loan scandals over the past years.
The State of MDAs
You can read the appalling stories of corruption and mismanagement found in government agencies and ministries visited by the GTT in the Full Report attached below.
“The malpractices described are far from being comprehensive. Even so, it is an utterly depressing picture. Fixing the problems described will require time, money and strong political will. But this Government must begin that process.,” says the Government Transition Team.