• August 30, 2023

Information Minister Trivialises ACC Investigation

Information Minister Trivialises ACC Investigation
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The Minister of Information and Civic Education, Chernor Bah, has on Tuesday, 29 August 2023 this year at the Government Weekly press briefing, Mininistry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Tower Hill, Freetown deliberate or otherwise attempted to trivialise the Anti-Corruption Commission Investigation on the alleged billion leones-gate scandal by the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation Director General – Joseph Kapuwa.

‘The Ministry of Finance has approved 50% salary increment for staff of the SLBC which is part of President Bio’s commitment to improve the welfare of the information sector,’ said Minister Chernor Bah.

Many political pundits continue to view the attempt by the Minister of Information and Civic Education to beat the gun after the Director General himself had already confirmed to the media that the SLBC is currently being investigated by both the Anti-Corruption Commission  and the board of the corporation for alleged corruption with regards the misuse of public funds to the tune of over two billion old leones, as a deliberate attempt to divert the media’s attention from the crux of the investigation.

Such political game of trivialising prominent government officials of the Bio led administration is becoming monotonous, as the very ACC Boss had also trivialised the alleged corruption by the former Chief Minister, Professor David Francis.

It could be recalled that the ACC Boss suddenly became the former Chief Minister’s defender, requesting the media house to tender evidence to substantiate the truism of the story instead of him doing the needful.

According to a letter making the rounds to the Commissioner, Anti-Corruption Commission, Integrity House, Tower Hill, Freetown by some concerned citizens, captioned: ‘Report On Corruption at the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, SLBC’ brought to light many grave allegations that it should have been more proper for the Information Minister to have kept sealed lips rather than attempting to trivialise the corruption allegation hanging over the head of Director General of the SLBC.

The letter therefore draws attention to a few tips pointing to the stealing of public funds meant for the 2023 elections at the SLBC.

According to the letter, funds were stolen between May and July 2023 meant for the June 24 elections to the tune of around a billion old leones or more.

‘I have seen a letter addressed to the Financial Secretary dated 23 May 2023 captioned, “Disbursement of second tranche for SLBC Elections Coverage”. The letter exposed the requests for the said release of the said funds totalling one billion old leones , one hundred and sixty-two million five hundred thousand old leones, both first and second tranche, came under a project titled: “SLBC 2023 Election Coverage” was addressed to the Financial Secretary in May 2022,’ the letter specified.

The letter recalled that on Tuesday, 22 August 2023, between the hours of 5:00pm-7:00pm, a serious commotion between the Engineering Department and the Finance Department over forgery of signatures and affixing them on fictitious requisitions allegedly in the possession of the finance people/staff.

The indictment letter continued that staff of the finance department charged at the engineering department to assault them. Both departments, who had crowded the top floor, repelled the finance staff. The letter described the encounter between the two departments as ‘a heavy row that can attract anyone to find out what is happening’.

During the said ranting, the letter stated that the engineers accused finance of forging their signatures, and finance hated that labelling.

Ironically, finance ordered the engineers to write a complaint on the matter to the Boss who happened to be in the centre of the corruption allegation, an indication that funds were withdrawn without supporting documents, breaching all procedures, the letter established.

Mr. Commissioner, it is my information that funds were also stolen between September 2022 and February 2023 running to or above a billion old leones. The majestic sofa chair you see at the SLBC reception is an instrument for hiding stolen wealth, the letter quoted.

The letter also stated that what stands glaring at the SLBC is the payment of director/ consultant’s salary to junior staff, ‘every staff at the SLBC knows this,’ it added.

The letter further justified that Nancy Sesay, a commercial officer receiving a director’s salary also carries a consultant’s pin code while Papanie Conteh, Finance Manager, received the same salary as his Boss, the Director General, SLBC.

Mr. Commissioner, the fight against graft lies in the hands of the people of Sierra Leone. I see you have massive support from the public including the media and CSOs for which I commend you. And I also wish to enlist their pages and microphones to support you in addressing corruption happenings at SLBC, the letter concluded.

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