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Former Agric. Ministers to refund Le.68bn

January 23, 2020

By Regina Pratt

While addressing the Commission of Inquiry presided over by Justice Bankole Thompson, Counsel for the State, Robert B. Kowa, yesterday submitted that the  sum of  Le68, 245,558,888 and USD$4, 894,296, which was allegedly missing at the Ministry of Agriculture, be refunded by Prof. Monty Jones, Dr.Sam Sesay and other officials of the ministry.

He submitted that the sum of Le1, 569,205,643 be refunded to the government jointly by Dr. Sam Sesay, erstwhile Minister of Agriculture, Edward Kargbo, the Permanent Secretary then and Edward Bassie Kamara, Principal Accountant.

Similarly, he added that Le455,413,245 be jointly refunded by Professor Monty Jones, who was also a minister in the said ministry in 2016, Abdulai Koroma, Permanent Secretary   and Bassie Kamara, Principal Accountant.

The State Counsel said during the tenure of Dr. Sam Sesay, he published a document titled Policy Directives on the Management of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, which was signed and dated on the 24th February, 2014.

He told the tribunal holding at the former Special Court building, Jomo Kenyatta Road that paragraph 2 of the first page of the said document, Dr. Sesay stated that: “Let me hasten to remind everyone that the ministers have the full responsibility to the president and the nation. For any success or failure in the delivery of our responsibilities in the ministry, it is the political leadership that bears the brunt of the consequences-good or bad.”

He said the policy document also states that the minister should spearhead resource mobilisation, ensure proper utilisation, accountability and transparency for the use of such resources and promote cordial donor relations.

In his address on overpricing, Lawyer Kowa said in 2014, purchase of fertilizers cost the government a loss of about Le66.6 billion which was revealed in the testimony of state witness No.4.

 He said some of the witnesses did not deny the allegations on overpricing, but blamed the procurement officer in the ministry who must have done the pricing.

Lawyer Kowa submitted that Professor Monty Jones also sent in a written submission dated 5th August, 2019, in which he admitted that the stores at Kissy Dockyard   were damaged.

“In respect of overpricing, Professor Jones said it is under the leadership of the administration especially the procurement unit, dissociating himself and the Executive Management Committee from this responsibility,” lawyer Kowa added.

He recommended that the former Minister, Dr.Sam Sesay refund the sum of Le5.5 billion, while professor Monty Jones who was minister from 2016 to 2018 , his Permanent Secretary (PS) Abdulai Koroma, Director of Crops Mr. Henry Kargbo and Francis Kaikai jointly  refund Le61.061 billion to the people of Sierra Leone.

Addressing the judge on technical specification, lawyer Kowa said the contract was signed between the Government of Sierra Leone represented by former minister, Professor Monty Jones and Balsam representing Harakeh enterprises to supply and deliver 60,000 50 kg MPK 202020 bags of fertilizers.

He said between the signing of agreement and delivery of goods there were suspicious and ill intention correspondences.

“The supplier and officials of the ministry, procurement officer, PS and the director of crops modified and changed the goods that were to be supplied to government without any amendment to the contract,”  he said, adding that the initial delivery didn’t indicate that MPK 2020 has been supplied which is in agreement with the Auditor General’s report.

The state prosecutor observed that it was poor management under the leadership of Dr.  Sam Sesay and Professor Monty Jones that led to the missing of 1,938kg fertilizers costing USD234, 498 between 2014 and 2016.

Lawyer Kowa said the sum of Le1, 614,618,888 was withdrawn from the fertilizer funds account between 28th May 2015 and 19 February 2016 without supporting document.