By Lawrence Williams
Even though the Bio-led administration has put in place stringent measures to block financial outflows and prevent the abuse of public resources by public officials appointed to serve in his ‘New Direction’ Government, some individuals would certainly defy established protocols just to have a way to pocket monies meant for development programmes.
Recently, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) raided the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA) headquarters at Government Wharf and arrested four senior government employees who have been swindling taxpayers’ monies at the expense of the public good.
These employees are now being investigated for allegedly diverting public funds into their own private use.
The Director of Finance Hassan Lahai, Director of Shipping and Marine Protection Department Rolland Moore, Snr. Account Officer Carlton During and Shipping Officer Mohamed Fatorma were all arrested by the ACC Scorpion Squad on Wednesday and whisked off to the Criminal Investigations Department where they were detained till the following morning.
The ACC’s Director of Public Education and Outreach, Patrick Sandi confirmed that all four suspects were arrested but later granted bail pending the outcome of the investigations.
Margaret Murray, Public Relations Officer for the Commission hinted that the funds allegedly diverted into private use by the four suspects ‘might amount to billions of Leones’.
When this press telephoned the Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration for comments on the issue, Mr. Ken Philip Sondai told this writer to go to his office. This writer then went to Mr. Sondai’s office accompanied by a colleague journalist.
After waiting for about an hour along the corridors of Mr. Sondai’s office, a lady attached to his office approached us and enquired about the purpose of our visit. She then went inside Mr. Sondai’s office to inform him about our purpose of visit. When she came outside, she told us that Mr. Sondai said he was not going to entertain journalists.
Whether more individuals occupying top positions at the SLMA would become persons of interest to the ACC will be determined by the scope of the investigations as this is not the first time the ACC is probing the Maritime Administration for corruption related activities.
The Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA) is an autonomous body responsible for the registration of ships and other vessels, the licensing and safety of maritime personnel, protection of the marine environment and for the regulation and development generally of maritime, coastal and inland transport and for other matters connected therewith.