SIERRA LEONE GOVERNMENT - FINAL REPORT - SUBMITTED BY THE JUSTICE LYNTON NYLANDER COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO
THE DEPARTMENT OF CUSTOMS AND EXCISE, THE SIERRA LEONE FIRE FORCE, THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES, THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION, THE NATIONAL DIAMOND MINING COMPANY
VOLUME THREE 1992 AND THE GOVERNMENT WHITE PAPER THEREON
Page 13 - SUMMARY AND FINDINGS.
1. The inquiry into the Fire Force began with the Chief Fire Force Officer, Mr Alusine Mohamed Kamara taking the witness seat. He started by telling the Commission that he had been with the Force for about 12 years. Presently, his Force is attached to the Defence Department. Before that they were attached to the Freetown City Council.
2. It was made clear to Mr Kamara that the Commission first and foremost was interested in Fire Engines. Mr Kamara revealed that presently according to records, they hadf three working fire engines and seven others awaiting minor repairs. A further eight engines were damaged beyond repairs. The working engines were bought between 1987 and 1989.
3. Asked who bought the 1989 engines, Mr Kamara disclosed that the Government gave a Mr Mahmoud Khadi the contract to purchase fire engines. He first saw the engines in Holland. The ones he saw were new.
4. He however could not say the ones in Holland were the same ones which were sent to Freetown. This witness, who by this was visibly showing signs of nervousness, said the fire engines were boutht in Freetown from Mr Mohamed Khadi. Mr Khadi bought these engines from Holland. Mr Kamara was inconsistent to the extent that he next revealed that they bought 10 engines in 1984. He later changed the number to 4. Out of the 4 engines, 3 were operational and 1 was at the Road Transport Department for minor repairs. Pressed further as to whether these engines were bought brand new or second hand, Mr Kamara timidly revealed that they were bought second hand. He said he did not know the ages of these vehicles. Mr Kamara was reminded by the Commission that there were ways of handling people who did not speak the truth. It was suggested to Mr Kamara that the engines ten years old. He tried to convince the Commission that he did not know how old the engines were, but the ones he inspected in Holland were not the ones the Government eventually boutht. Asked about the cost of these vehicles, Mr Kamara said he did not know, as all business transactions between Mr Mohamed Khadi and the Government were confidential.
5. Mr Kamara who by now had shown that he is always confusing dates to the Commission that the engines they bought in 1989 were never inspected in Holland but only the ones bought in 1990. He was never consulted before these vehicles were bought, nor did he have any manual for the said vehicles. He said four vehicles were bought in 1990 which are still operational. When asked about three vehicles bought which he said operational, Mr Kamara shockingly retorted that he wa referring to those three vehicles as operational and the four bought in 1990 were parked at the Force Compound with minor faults, but sometimes he uses them for fire fighting purposes. He finally agreed, thought not convincingly, that seven vehicles were operational, but could guarantee only three.
6. Mr Kamara revealed that the 1990 vehicles (4) electrical problems and some had clutch problems. These were not the vehicles he inspected in Holland. The vehicles sent to Freetown were old vehicles about 6 or 7 years old. They were functional when they arrived. These vehicles were bought by the Ministry of Defence through Mr Mahmoud Khadi.
7. Asked what was his reaction on seeing different vehicles from the ones Mr Khadi identified to him in Holland, Mr Kamara said he immeditely pointed it out to Mr Khadi. Mr Kamara revealed that his trip to Holland was paid by Khadi, who also bore the cost of his hotel bills and daily expenditure. The trip took about a week. There was no further reaction after he wrote to Mr Khadi telling him that the vehicles inspected in Holland were not the ones which were sent to Freetown.
8. Mr Kamara said Mr Khadi gave him 200 guild as per day spending money. He did not know where Mr Khadi got the money from.
9. In 1991 two engines were bought, said Mr Kamara. These two vehicles are presently at the Road Transport Department. They were old vehicles bought from Mr Khadi and the chassis cut in two halves. In all ten vehicles were bought from Mr Mahmoud Khadi. Mr Kamara still insisted that he did not know the cost of these 10 vehicles. Asked if he made a formal complaint to officials of the Ministry of Defence about the conditions of the Fire engines , Mr Kamara said he did not make any representation.
10. He however pressed Mr Khadi about these Fire engines. The latter did promise to replace these old engines with new ones, but he never did.
15. Mr Kamara revealed that at the time the PZ building at Wilberforce Street was burning down, he and his Fire engines were in Binkolo supplying water to the APC Convention held there. Two vehicles were up there at the Convention. Mr Kamara explained that his vehicles were requested to proceed and spray the roads with water ahead of the former Head of State and his Ministers when they paid visits to Binkolo not just for Conventions. He once expressed that his vehicles were not fit to travel to the provinces. A reply came that he might very well lose his job for refusing to comply with instructions. He therefore performed these duties under duress. Asked who actually conveyed these directives to him, Mr Kamara said it was Mr E T Kamara...........
113) Having conducted an inquiry into the Fire Force, one gets an impression that apart from the various irregularities and malpractices unearthed and the shocking high degree of illiteracy amongst its staff, this Force is like an unwanted child being tossed here and there.
We see that at one time the Fire Force was attached to the Freetown City Council. Then it was removed from the City Council and put in care of the Police Force, and finally it was transferred from the Police to the Ministry of Defence.
During the progress of this inquiry it is learnt that the Fire Force had been transferred to the Freetown City Council. This transfer, the Commission is told has met with some resistance. The Commission shall make appropriate recommendation on this point of the unwanted child later on in this Report.
114) As regards the question of vehicles purchased for and on behalf of the Force, the evidence adduced had exposed the corrupt systems encouraged by the pre-April 29 Government, whereby "Party Supporters" are given large sums of money to fulfil bogus deals, with the sole aim of pocketing majority of the quantum of money meant for the contract. Various contracts were given to Mr Mahmoud Khadi for the purchase of fire engines to be used by the Fire Force. Over ten in number running into millions of leones.
On one occasion the Chief Fire Officer, Mr Alusine Kamara was given a sort of holiday trip abroad with per diem to inspect engines which the contractor knew very well he was not going to supply. At the end of the day old and outdated machines almost 10 years or more were supplied. It is seen that the life span for each of these vehicles when put into use in Sierra Leone was not more than 2 years.
115) First and foremost why should this supplier repeatedly be given the contract to purchase Fire Engines for the Fire Force when (he) is not an expert in that field? A glaring ignorance and fault is indicated by the purchase of German machines to operate from English-fitted hydrants in the country. Strictly speaking, under the laws of contract, when the Chief Fire Officers received engines other than the ones he inspected abroad, that signifies a breach of contract for which damages are liable to be paid by the supplier. If there was sanity and honesty in the system of the then government, the supplier should have been asked to refund the contract money with interest.
However it is understood that it is usually the case whereby the contractor/supplier and the individual members of government get their slice of state funds.
116) As already mentioned, the Commission was shocked with the high degree of illiteracy that prevails in the Fire Force. It would appear that there was a deliberate move by the officers responsible to minimise aspirants for top jobs in the Force, and in particular the ultimate seat - that of the Chief Fire Officer.
117) From the evidence already adduced, this Force is another institution run by the iron hand of one man - the Chief Fire Officer in the person of Mr Alusine Kamara. A careful restructuring of this Force should see more sanity and equity in its administration and well-being of all its staff outside the clutches of one man.
118) Again the order for a generator for the Force Headquarters. Over Le3.9 million was paid for this order from Shelal Trading Company. There is evidence that the wrong generator was supplied and this was returned. It is not clear whether the correct generator was sent to replace the wrong one, but there is evidence that the military confiscated a generator in possession of an employee of the supplier. An appropriate recommendation would be made in this connection.
119) Communication/Receiver sets should have been supplied by the same Shelal Trading Company for the sum of Le7,420,000.00. From the evidence before the Commission, there are doubts as to whether these sets were ever supplied or not. Recommendations will be made later on this matter.
120) There is great disparity between what Mr Alusine Kamara said he received from Government for Uniforms - Le29 million and what the Commission was informed the Force received - Le93 million. However even if it was the lower figure of Le29 million, there is clear evidence that many of the staff did not receive complete sets of uniforms. We note that this contract to supply uniforms was given to a friend of the Chief Fire Officer. His name is My Foday Sayenu.
121) The supply of shoes to Force members leaves the unaccountability of 28 pairs, between Mr Browne the distributor of Forces shoes and the Chief Fire Officer - Mr Alusine Kamara. The Commission is of the view that Mr Alusine Kamara should be made to account for the 28 pairs of shoes.
122) The distribution of rice in the Force is most wickedly done. Where the head of the Force collects 54 bags of rice per month at Le170.00 per bag, recruits are not entitled to any rice not that they do not eat rice, but because they have not reached that position to be supplied rice at the subsidised rate. We do not lend our support to this practice.
123) Still with this rice issue, it was unearthed that the most popular form of punishment for defaulters in their duties, is the forfeiture of monthly supply of rice. The punishment is determined by the Chief Fire Officer, but no one could account who benefits from these forfeited rice. Again we observe that the girl friend of the Chief Fire Officer receives at least 7 bags of rice from Force rice monthly. We remind ourselves that recruits are not entitled to rice while girl friends are.
124) The question of the trailer pumps must be looked into again. Though Mr Kamara has told the Commission that one pump was at Binkolo and the other at the then President's Lodge in Freetown for his swimming pool, the Commission has its doubts. As this matter was reported to the CID, confirmation could be sought in that quarter. A thorough audit would determine the issue.
125) Ghost workers are rumoured in the Fire Force. Various members of staff had heard of this rumour. No one had categorically denied the existence of such a rumour. The number of staff in the Force had not been clearly determined. Some say there are 286, others say there are 515. This is a possible way of exposing the ghost workers through the salary payroll.
126) Who is the paymaster at the Fire Force? Some say Aruna Kamara is the son of the Chief Fire Officer - Alusine Kamara. This allegation remains unclear; but if there is some connection between the two, could this be a lead to the unconfirmed ghost workers aided by the paymaster? The issue ought to be ascertained and discouraged.
127) It is hoped that the Provident Fund opened at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank for staff would continue without a hitch. Checks must be made periodically to determine how healthy the fund is.
128) The first recommendation for this "Unwanted Child" is to attempt to determine its guardian one and for all. The Commission recommends that the Fire Force be put under the care of the Freetown City Council which is the Local Government in the Western Area. In developed countries, the Fire Force is never controlled by the National Government. Each Local Authority or Council has its own Fire Force Service. If the Fire Force is controlled by the Freetown City Council, then with the various "Twinning Programmes" with other cities in developed countries, much advantage can be derived by the Force, especially with British cities. Again the administration of the Force will come under the strict eye of the Council. At the moment the Force administration and management are most unsatisfactory. It had been canvassed that some of the "top boys" at the Force prefer the Department of Interior as a guardian. The Commission is of the view that the Department of the Interior is fully loaded work wise, and has little or no time to update a rundwon Force. This is the job of the local authority in the area where the Force operates.
129) The Commission urgently recommends the External Auditors to move into the Force's books. Special care must be taken to determine the following areas with the view to recommending possible refunds as follows:
I. The Generator Contract
II. The Communication Sets Contract.
III. Uniforms Contract.
IV. Shoes Distribution.
V. Trailer Pumps.
130) The supply of rice must be made more equitable. The Head of the Force cannot fairly collect 34 bags of rice per month, when recruits are not entitled to even one bag.
The Commission recommends a review of this system. Outsiders such as girl friends should be disallowed this privilege. Rice forfeiting muse cease. Other forms of punishments can be adopted, such as an extra Le50 to the Provident Fund in addition to the normal Le100 per month. We the Commission unitedly agree with the contents of this Report.
1. Mr Justice Lynton B O Nylander - Chairman
2. W O I Sylvanus Turay - Member
3. Mr Alimamy P. Bangura - Member