February 15, 2021
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has instituted an investigation into the disbursement of public funds running into billions of Leones to the Office of the First Lady, a development many believe would prove whether the ACC is serious about fighting corruption in Sierra Leone.
It was revealed by the Africanist Press that Madam Fatima Jabbe Bio received nearly Le30 billion Leones (almost US$3 million) of government funds in less than three years after the inauguration of her husband, Julius Maada Bio as president of the country in May 2018.
What is baffling to many is that the ACC investigation would only look into the legality of the issue and that the investigation would span 14 years-from the previous All People’s Congress (APC) led administration, to date.
“Preliminary findings showed that the Office of First Lady had been receiving Billions of Leones of State funds yearly, spanning 14 years to date and most of the payments were either directly made to the holders of that office or channeled, through the Presidency, as normal presidential official expenditure signed-off on by respective Secretaries to the President,” a release from ACC states.
Executive Director , Citizens Advocacy Network(CAN),Thomas Moore Conteh, told this medium on phone that, in as much as he strongly support the unlimited investigations into corruption related issues ,but that the current move by the ACC would rather enforce public notion that the commission is only chasing members of the opposition.
“We have seen cases where ACC conducted investigations on case-by case basis but doing it the way they have crafted would undermine the credibility of the commission. It would also enforce the public notion that the ACC is not ready to fight corruption from within but rather chasing the opposition. They are trying to draw in people whose names were never mentioned so as to let off the hook those that are in governance,” he said.
While speaking on the popular Radio Democracy’s Gud Show programme, United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Maria Brewah, noted that the ACC would only be taken seriously when they start fighting corruption from within the current administration and not only chasing the opposition.
Also,head of Campaign for Good Governance, Marcella Samba Sesay has called on the ACC to be focused on the specific issue under review instead of diverting people’s attention from the obvious that is under investigation at the Office of the First Lady.
The ACC has of recent came under serious criticism that, some public officials of the current administration are easily let off the hook whenever taken to court for corruption related charges.
The current minister of Lambour,Alpha Timbo was discharged in court for want of evidence, after the ACC had told the public that they have ‘incontrovertible’ evidence against the minister and others for syphoning the Chinese donated rice.
Meanwhile, one of the opposition political parties in Parliament, the National Grand Coalition (NGC) has demanded answers from the Ministry of Finance as to how funds were disbursed to the Office of the First Lady.