More Names For COIs -MDAs, Parastatals, Others Next

 

The Secretariat of the Commissions of Inquiry published at the end of last week the list of all ministers and deputy ministers of the former President Koroma led All People’s Congress (APC) party government that are of interest to the inquiries. The list which was announced on SLBC Radio, the national broadcaster, caught the attention of the entire nation.

Those who support the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) led government saw the announcement as good news; as the main opposition APC had said that it will not subject its former government officials to the inquiry. The party’s National Secretary General stated that the commissions lack certain legal provisions that should protect the rights of those they are to investigate.

With the scope of the investigation extending to heads of MDAs, it is expected that the Commissions Secretariat would next publish the list of all permanent secretaries, heads of departments and agencies, board chairmen of parastatals and major contractors and suppliers that served the former APC government during the period under investigation.

APC had also protested against the exclusion of Permanent Secretaries and vote controllers from the investigations, citing that it is the permanent secretaries and vote controllers who control the budgets and authorize expenditures.

In the ongoing proceedings that formally started on the 4th of February, 2019 at the former Special Court complex on Jomo Kenyatta Road, the State Counsels headed by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice have submitted to the commissions the Auditor General’s annual Reports dating from 2008 to 2017; names of persons of interest; details of their corrupt dealings; and instances of abuses of offices that allegedly undermined state institutions.

As part of the evidence, the State Counsels will also submit details on contracts to determine the corruption in awarding them; as well as the Financial Audits and Technical Audit Reports.

Last week, three principal witnesses stood before the Justice Biobele led Commission of Inquiry – including the Secretary to Cabinet and representatives from the Government Printing Press and the Auditor General’s Office – to tender evidences.

Meanwhile, with uncertainty hovering whether or not APC will allow its former government officials to subject themselves to the investigations, President Bio whose government commissioned the inquiries has said that the investigations are not against the APC party but against individuals that served in the former government, insisting that they are not a witch-hunt.

“Nobody is going to be asked whether he or she belongs to a political party or hails from a particular region,” he said.

He said the investigations will look at three key issues: governance processes, assets and the outcomes of forensic audits. The forensic audits, he said, tracked fraudulent activities within the entire chains of governance.

The purpose of the investigations, he said, is to act as a deterrent to every Sierra Leonean who are or will be entrusted with the public trust. They will be a reminder that when one serves one’s country, one must serve with honesty, fairness, justice, diligence and compassion, President Bio said.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rado Swaray has said that the commissions will lead to where the evidence points; as such even members of this government that served the former are not exempted from the investigations. As such, Dr. Denis Sandy who served as Minister of Lands in the former government and who is also serving the current government in the same capacity was named amongst ministers of interest to the inquiries.