Colabo’s All Stars received Le500m from Ministry of Youth
March 19, 2019
BY Jariatu S. Bangura
Former Accountant at the Ministry of Youth Affairs has testified at the Commissions of Inquiry presided over by Justice Biobele Georgewill that the All Stars musical group headed by Milton Coker aka Colabo, received L500 million from the Youth in Drainage clearing project’s fund.
Bashiru Kamara said a total of twenty five billion, six hundred and eight million, nine hundred and nineteen thousand, six hundred Leones (Le25, 608,919,600) was disbursed for the Youth in Drainages Clearing project at the Ministry of Youth Affairs.
He, however, declined knowledge as to why the said colossal amount of money was given to the group, but referred the commission to the Project Coordinator, Ibrahim Koroma, whose whereabouts was unknown.
The erstwhile accountant said he served as an adviser to the Permanent Secretary on the financial management of the ministry.
He told the commission that on 23 January,2018, Street Life Family received Le300 million, while the Music for girls received Le50 million.
He testified that Le47.2 million was used to purchase tools and to pay 15 employees.
“Lawrence Bia S/L Limited received Le100 million for the supply of assorted clearing tools. The same supplier was also given Le94.5 million later for the purchase of similar tools,” he testified.
He revealed that withdrawals were made for part payment of four vehicles at the amount of one billion Leones.
He said the vehicles were distributed to the Permanent Secretary, Director of the Project, Field Manager and one to support the operations of the then Minister of Youth Affairs, Bai Mamoud Bangura
He said all requests made by officials of the ministry were sent to the office of the Permanent Secretary, who in turn minutes it to the minister for approval.
When asked about the relationship between him and the Admin/Finnce officer, the witness said their relationship was cordial.
He told the commission that he and the Permanent Secretary were category ‘A ‘signatories, while the Project Manager and the Admin/Finance Officer were category ‘B’ signatories to the Youth in drainage clearing project account.
“To some extent, I did play key role. I requested the Finance Officers of each project to prepare a cash book on their projects for the year. There are times I also request for explanation from them regarding payment they want to make on each project in order for me to prepare the annual account of the projects and send to the Permanent Secretary,” he said.
The witness presented exhibits to the commission indicating payment of stipends to 15 employees of the Youth in Fisheries project, award of contract for the supply of assorted clearing tools to Lawrence Bia S/L Limited and Bank statement of Youth in Drainage Clearing Project, which were funded by the government through the Road Maintenance Fund Administration.
All of the exhibits were marked and formed part of the commission’s record.
He said the debit balance as at 28 February, 2019,was a deficit of less than two million eight hundred and thirty-five thousand (-2,835,008.74) with a total debit balance of fifty-one thousand, nine hundred and fifty Leones (Le51,950) interest overdraft.
Kamara stated that the opening balance of the Youth Village project as at 30th April, 2014, was Le 700 million inwards.
He continued that the total amount of the project was four billion, three hundred and seventy-six million, nine hundred and twenty-five thousand, one hundred and seventy-four Leones and ten cents (4,376,925,171.10),adding that they used four billion, three hundred and fifty million, seven hundred and eighty-two thousand, nine hundred and nine Leones and fifty-two cent (Le4,350,782,909. 52).
He said about Le50 was given to Sylvanus A. Lusane (government Surveyor), and Le56 million was given to God’s Time Enterprise in respect of payment for tools meant to clear the site
The witness noted that Le1 billion was given as compensation to Kabala stakeholders for the National Youth Village site as first installment.
He said Le56 million was paid each for architectural drawings and Bill of Quantities for the National Youth Villages in Kabala and Mile 91, Tonkolili district.
He further stated that payment was made for two years rent for the National Youth Village Office at Mile 91.
He revealed that no single youth was trained through the National Youth Village project, but that payment of constructions were the only activities that has been undertaken since the commencement of the project so far
He said the project was to acquire lands and established a center for excellence, but due to lack of funding, it has been stalled since 2014 to date.