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At Commission of Inquiry: Witness denies receiving Le44 million from NATCOM

July 26, 2019

By Jariatu S Bangura

State witness No. 15 attached to the Dispatch Unit as Mail Carrier at the Sierra Leone Parliament, has denied before the Commissions of Inquiry that he never received forty-four million Leones (Le44,000,000) from the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM).

Aruna Bangura told the Justice Bankole Thompson commission that he is a civil servant and has the mandate to work for the public by distributing documents given to him for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

He emphasised that although his name was on the exhibit before the Commission, he had never received the amount recorded in the commission’s document.

“I never received this kind of money and it is not true that it is a support for Parliament from NATCOM. I only received a document together with white envelope. I was instructed by the former Member of Parliament, Hon. Binneh Bangura, who was the then Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Communications to go and collect a document from the Receptionist at NATCOM which I did and then handed over the documents to him later. He never gave me any money after wards,” he told the Commission.

However, Justice Bankole Thompson commended the witness for his testimony and stated that his testimony would be of help to the commission; hence he will not envisage that both Counsels would call upon the witness to testify again.

Also, State Witness No. 16, Finance Director at the Sierra Leone Parliament, Abdurahman Njai, confirmed to the Commission that Parliament is financed by government through budgetary support and other outside sources to carry out its oversight functions.

He explained to the commission the processes through which government monies are accessed through the Ministry of Finance-the custodian of the budget.

He told the commission that Parliament has several Committees and that they are budgeted for in order to execute their oversight functions.

The witness said there are agencies that do support Parliament outside government budgetary, thus citing UNDP, UNICEF and WFP, which he said normally give support to Parliament.

He disclosed that NATCOM also support parliament as they have never appeared before the sub-Appropriation committees to defend their budget as the other institutions normally do.

He explained that the Parliamentary Committees have Chairmen and Clerks and that the Clerks advise the Finance Department on funds provided by any agency.

“After they (committees) have come with evidence to show that funds have been transferred into the account by producing a bank statement, then we can now advise them on our internal process to be adopted in order for them to access the funds to execute their oversight functions,” he said.

Njai confirmed that the Ministry of Finance will only disburse monies after Parliamentary approval and that most times the ministry refused to disburse the total amount to respective MDAs on time.

“I do agree that because of insufficient budgetary funds, MDAs do find other sources of support to complement government efforts. I agree that Parliament is not an exception of not receiving full amount; hence its activities are affected negatively because of the short fall. Parliament will then have to seek outside sources to support its work,” he said.