• September 12, 2023

WHAT ABOUT LARA AND TAMBA?

WHAT ABOUT LARA AND TAMBA?
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The case of the Julius Maada Bio led government of Sierra Leone versus former Auditor General Lara Taylor-Pearce and her deputy Tamba Momoh is an example of how the law, that is there to protect the citizen and guarantee his or her health, peace, security and safety, is instead being used to crush or stifle the progress of standout public workers that dare do their jobs by the dictates of their terms of references and the constitutional enjoinment on their conduct and authority, including the independence of their office.

It must be recalled that after attempting to dictate to the supreme auditors how they should do their jobs including a directive not to include audits of his, his wife’s and that of the vice president’s office in the AG’s report, which report we have been reliably informed was more spectacular in disclosures and much grander in scale than all the previous audits, the principal got so upset that he suspended the top two auditors, Lara and Tamba.

However, their suspension was not done according to the laid down procedure for sacking such government workers, which procedure follows the same as is required for removing magistrates and judges.

Lara and Tamba were suspended before the government of Sierra Leone set up a tribunal of former legal luminaries to look into their matter. As a matter of law, the tribunal should have been set up before suspending Lara and Tamba. It must be noted here that since 2018, none of the Auditor General’s reports have been debated, not in the Fifth Parliament, and people are expecting that if this regime is allowed to continue, we will not get to hear how our public servants spent our money in the Sixth Parliament.

This obvious refusal to be accountable for fiduciary decisions by vote controllers forms the basis for the corruption and financial leakages that have come to define public service in Sierra Leone.

Because Lara and Tamba had exposed the actions of people at State House in their previous reports that caused embarrassment for the executive, it was expected that the order from above for them to ignore the sacred offices of the president, vice president and the newly minted office of the president’s wife, would have cowered them into a sense of negative patriotism by not executing the mandates of their offices in the interest of safeguarding the integrity of the nation’s fountain of honour.

Since Lara and Tamba insisted on the independence of her office, the president was quick to suspend the Audit Service Sierra Leone duo to save his image and reputation.

It must be recalled that president Bio was elected on a platform that promised to fight and bring an end to corruption, financial leakages and indiscipline that have continued to wreck all the efforts of our government of Sierra Leone past and present.

By insisting on carrying out her audit, which report she was to deliver at Parliament, Lara and Tamba were about to expose the presidency for what it was really about, instead of what they were presenting to the public, especially their supporters.

By insisting the Lara and Tamba back off from his and the offices of his wife and second in command, the president was trying to hide a great travesty against the people and state by the one man that promised to do the needful to sort out our public governance mess.

According to reports, ‘after the president set up the tribunal, the matter of contention between the State and lawyers for the defendants was whether the Tribunal has or lacks jurisdiction to hear and determine the facts of the allegations made against Lara Taylor Pearce and her deputy, Tamba Momoh. The two sides have been at odds regarding this issue. The State argues that the Tribunal was duly constituted and has the competent jurisdiction while the defendants’ lawyers counter with case laws, constitutional provisions, and statutory legal provisions’.

The duo was suspended on allegations of insubordination and unprofessional conduct all because they refused an instruction from the executive branch that has no authority to tell the auditors how to do their jobs. After suspending Lara and Tamba the principal had his man, Abdul Aziz, to head the agency and reportedly delivered a report that was damning in terms of financial impropriety but much less severe than what it actually was. The report was allegedly redacted to make it more palatable.

Meanwhile it’s been two years since Lara and Tamba were made to leave the job they love most with no progress. They have met with the tribunal twice for which the matter was adjourned. The tribunal was reportedly suffering from lack of funding for them to do their work; which seems to be the fate of any investigation mounted by the regime aimed at proving the regime right.

While our principal is doing some serious manoeuvres to continue occupying a seat that is getting hotter by the day to sit on, it is important that we don’t forget about Lara and Tamba and all those who were made to suffer the indignity of being sacked for doing their jobs by the book and in the interest of the people, not based on orders from above that have wrecked this nation.

Since 2018 this regime has been allowed to get away with stolen elections, public execution of protesting citizens and doing things against the rule of law. This has to stop, or will we always have men and women who see government institutions not as ripe for development, but ripe for the capture by the incumbent regime.

CREDIT: SACCOH LEWIS

 

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