''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 7

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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First published March 4, 2004.


The Auditor-General's office in Sierra Leone has demonstrated once more that evil and corruption could only thrive where the good fail to act as many in Sierra Leone had given up any hope that this arm of government machinery would ever be allowed to function again. There was a time when corruption had become so endemic, so entrenched,  so encouraged and oiled by the authorities in control of the nation's resources that honest men and women keen on ensuring accountability were mocked, taunted and made miserable because they failed to see that the atmosphere then was based on "nar for mek am usai di Pa put yu", meaning that in whatever position you are put by the powers that be, there shall you make your fortune by whatever means.

It was a system that saw the abuse of power, position and authority and where laid-down procedures were routinely ignored in the thieving frenzy that reigned during the audit years 1985/86 - 1991/92. It was a period that rewarded the corrupt and all those in the good books of the Pa, aka the late Siaka Probyn Stevens and the late Joseph Saidu Momoh who was to continue the culture of a lack of accountability and transparency as well as the selective application of the rule of law.

The Auditor-General's observation on non-compliance to laid down procedures by government functionaries gives an insight into machinery of the corruption bandwagon:

For the entire period under review 1986 - 1991, I can hardly record more than 0.01% as replies to my Memoranda, some of which were either addressed to the Ministry of Finance directly or copied to it. The follow up on Audit Queries suffered a similar fate. There was a catalogue of significant irregularities running into millions of leones in value during this period. As a leader Ministry others take after it and the result is counter productive.

This was a period that saw the Secretary to the President practically auctioning top posts in the country's Civil Service to favoured bidders. The then Provincial Secretaries/Regional District Commissioners and generally throughout the service are believed to have got their postings depending on their "performances" in previous posts. The retention of lucrative posts was determined by gifts that were showered on the Secretary to the President. Of course apart from those gifts in kind, it was imperative that those briefcases that passed through his doors were loaded with the right stuff - money and gems where applicable. Overseas assignments were also subjected to the scrutiny of the corruption mafia directed from the very heart of State House.

The 1985/86 - 1991/92 makes a sad, but enlightening reading as it throws light on how far those in power fed fat on corruption, trampling down the barriers of accountability and transparency in their greedy march of acquiring any form of personal gain, no matter the state of the economy, no matter the wretchedness of the ordinary Sierra Leonean.

In the introduction to this report, the Auditor-General has noted:

In accordance with the provisions of Section 134 Sub-section 4 of the 1978 Constitution of Sierra Leone, as amended by Section 119 Sub-section 4 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991, I humbly present my first audit report....

which indicated quite clearly and in no uncertain terms that auditing the books of the government is a constitutional edict that must be followed to the letter. Default in such economic and development issues must call into question the tenancy of any resident of State House/The Lodge.

This report deals with the thieving that was going on under the leadership of the former Heads of State and is an indictment of all those who served in various key positions during those years. Indeed even though the leadership then woefully failed to account to the people for the country's resources, it must be stated that all the thieving was orchestrated and implemented by functionaries like the Secretary to the President who acts as the Head of the Civil Service, his subordinates ranging from Permanent Secretaries and down the line as well as ministers who were given overall responsibility of ensuring that all was well, but who failed the people. Therefore if the late J. S. Momoh admitted that he had failed the nation, it was an all-consuming mushroom cloud of guilt that should hold all those government functionaries equally guilty.

Some disgraceful aspects in the catalogue of thieving and outright criminality in this audit report are worth mentioning and there are quite a good number to leave the reader gasping in disbelief. Take these for example:

Ministry of Finance:
Cost of Bitumen waived and Short Supplied by a Contractor to the Ministry of Works
In October 1988, a Contractor agreed to supply government a total of 6,000 drums of bitumen at a total cost of Le42, 800, 000.00. Government made a down payment of 35% equivalent to Le14,980,000.00. After a year, when the supplier should have completely performed his contract, he informed government that a total of 2,000 drums be waived in view of devaluation and inflation. At an average price of Le7,133.33, this amounted to Le14,266,660.00 which was waived by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works. This action apparently was unauthorised and not in the interest of government. On investigation, the quantity alleged supplied was short by 454 drums. Thus a total of 2,454 drums were short delivered while government had made full settlement. The total amount involved is Le17,505,191.00.

President's Office
Two interdepartmental transactions and one Local Purchase Order Books were not produced for audit inspection. The Vote Service Ledger for 1986/87 (Other Charges) was also not produced to verify expenditure amounting to Le635,144.06. Interdepartmental Transaction and Financial Secretary's Letters in respect of payment for Le3,425,804.16 were not made available for audit inspection. Supporting documents for total expenditure of Le141,042 made on the feeding of jurors during the last treason trial were not produced for verification. A stenographer was overpaid Le11,133. It is not known whether a recovery has been instituted.

Overseas missions
London Mission - Payment to the private Account of His Excellency

Payment of £10,000.00 and $263,170.00 US dollars respectively were paid to the private account of His Excellency contrary to Financial Order 298. Expenditure documents pertaining to the disbursement of these amounts were not susceptible to audit.

Sierra Leone Commission, Lagos - Expenditure
An amount of $23,000 was spent to buy a used car which engine was completely worn out within a year of purchase. Not one out of 300 pieces of dinner plates was seen for which an amount of N.3,000 - Le39,934 was paid.

Ministry of Energy and Power
....Forty million leones (Le40,000,000) was paid to a Company for the supply of spare parts to NPA but the spares were short supplied by Le16,344,855.00. Recovery has been requested.

A duplicated payment of Le787,168.56 was observed on F.S. Letter No.MF.12/64 of May 1987 for Le2,961,377.33 to a certain agency. It is not known whether this amount has been recovered from the agency. Another overpayment of Le180,000 for the same agency on F.S. Letter MF.12/64 of 17th March, 1988. Recovery details have still not been received.

No delivery documents were seen to confirm that a petroleum company to which Le2m was paid by F.S. Letter No.MF.1/108/vol.8 of 20th February 1987 had supplied fuel for which the payment was made. Another supplier was paid Le2,488,549.00 for the supply of seven submersible pumps. It was alleged that the contract was revoked but documents relating to the cancellation were not produced for inspection.

Just the tip of the iceberg in the murky sea of corruption and deceit that government functionaries bathed in as delivery systems collapsed and uncaring government officials went about their task of feathering personal nests while the country withered in agony.

All the amounts shown will be appreciated when the time factor is taken into consideration - and yet it is these corrupt officials that His Excellency Alhaji Dr Ahmad Tejan Kabbah believes must be rewarded "in the spirit of reconciliation" while the poor who still continue to languish in helplessness and hopelessness because, if the President is to be understood, they do not have the resources to "feel alienated" and to mount a threat to his reign.


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