What has become a tropical issue amongst Sierra Leoneans on an in-depth and serializing publication by the Africanist Press headed by Chernor Bah involving the office of the First Lady has seen the Anti-Corruption Commission issued a public notice alerting the public that the graft agency has opened an investigation on investigating not just Fatima Bio; but all First Ladies.
Sierra Leone currently had two first ladies Mrs. Sia Koroma and Mrs. Fatima Bio; the biggest questions on the lips of Sierra Leoneans are how many first ladies the ACC is investigating.
The startling revelation by the Africanist Press involving the office of the First Lady was a shocker to Sierra Leoneans and the International Community. Sierra Leone depends largely on donor aid and with the amount of figures published by the Africanist Press leaves Sierra Leoneans into suspicious.
The National Grand Coalition; an opposition outfit says they are alarmed and gravely concerned about reports in the Africanist Press, the BBC and other news outlets alleging major improper financial flows to the Office of the First Lady of the republic. The party has therefore requested pertinent information from the Minister of Finance, Financial Secretary and the Governor of the Central Bank to ascertain the veracity of these reports.
Below is the Press Release from the commission.
ACC COMMENCES PROBE INTO ISSUES WITH REGARD PAYMENT TO AND EXPENDITURE OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY THE OFFICE OF FIRST LADY OF SIERRA LEONE
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to inform the general public that its attention had been drawn to reports in the Auditor-General’s Report 2019 and various releases on traditional and social media on issues of budgetary allocations and expenditures of funds relating to the Office of the First Lady of Sierra Leone.
The Commission wishes it to be known that it had commenced full and comprehensive probe into the Office of the First Lady, past and present, dealing with matters of budgetary justifications for allocations and expenditures of State funds to that entity and the legal and regulatory framework, if any, for them. Preliminary findings show that the entity known as “Office of First Lady” had been receiving Billions of Leones of State funds yearly, spanning 14 years to date – and most of the payments were either directly made to the holders of that office or channeled, through the Presidency, as normal presidential official expenditure signed-off on by respective Secretaries to the President. We are similarly reviewing Section 39 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016; which gives the State, authority to expend State funds to unallocated Head(s) of expenditure to a certain threshold, to “necessary” public cause(s), and whether such threshold was used and/or breached in making payments such as the ones under review, over the years.
We are therefore at the stage of collecting and analyzing records of accounts, official approval documents and any legal or regulatory framework around such payments; and the conclusions reached will assist in determining progress on the issue. We will also interview persons of interest in that regard, where necessary. We shall keep the public fully informed on our findings, conclusions and next steps.
The Commission wishes to reassure the public of its commitment to protecting public funds and to address all levels of corruption throughout Sierra Leone without fear or favor.
For further enquiries on this and other ACC matters, please contact MARGARET MURRAY, Public Relations Officer on +232-78-832131 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.