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SLAJ reacts to alleged misuse of Ebola funds

June 10, 2015 

The attention of the Executive of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has been drawn to a story doing the rounds in social media and the Internet, alleging that the Executive cannot account for funds to the tune of three hundred million Leones received for Ebola sensitization.

SLAJ wishes to inform the public that this is far from being the case and that the allegations contained in the said article are totally untrue and are a result of the author misunderstanding the issues discussed in the Association’s Annual General Meeting held in Kenema over the weekend.

The Executive of SLAJ accepts that:-

–          unaudited accounts were presented to the meeting.

–          objections were raised because it is audited accounts that should be presented at an AGM.

–          the internal auditors were not presented with the statement of accounts.

However, the Financial Secretary did explain that due to the volume of funds that passed through SLAJ’s accounts in the past year, it was difficult to prepare the accounts in time for them to be audited prior to the AGM.

The meeting therefore agreed that the unaudited statement of accounts be presented unofficially, so members have an idea of the income and expenditure, after which the accounts will be submitted to a professional firm of auditors for external auditing.

When the audited accounts of the Association are ready and approved by the membership, they will be published for all to see.

For the first time in the history of SLAJ, properly prepared accounts were presented with the assistance of a professional accounting firm, and the records showed revenue generated from a variety of sources, all of which were properly accounted for. There was NO accusation made of any funds being misappropriated, nor was there any issue raised regarding any Le300m.

There was also no issue raised about Ebola jingles during the meeting as alleged by the author of the story in question. The issue raised was that majority of funds was paid to Premier Media for the production of 90 episodes of a radio soap opera funded by the U.S. Embassy.

It has been explained that Premier Media partnered with SLAJ in this project in a transparent manner, and the project funds have been retired, scrutinized and accepted by the U.S. Embassy.

“It is unfortunate that a young member of SLAJ has inadvertently published a story which now has the potential to bring the Association into contempt and ridicule in the eyes of the public,” says SLAJ President, Kelvin Lewis.

SLAJ therefore wishes to assure the general public that all funds received for the Association’s Ebola response have been utilized strictly in accordance with the budgets submitted and have been properly accounted for.

The Executive also wishes to urge all members of SLAJ to desist from taking into the public domain issues discussed in the closed sessions of the AGM, as they are not meant for public consumption.  Members are also urged to ensure they abide strictly by the IMC Code of Practice in their reportage.

Signed:

Moses A. Kargbo

National Secretary General

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