Billion Gate: ACC investigates SLBC Director-General  

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D.G Kapuwa is facing the storm of his stewardship

By Alusine Sesay & Alhaji Haruna Sani

The Director-General of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), Joseph Kapuwa, has confirmed to Concord Times that his institution is currently being investigated by both the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the board of the corporation for alleged corruption, hinging on the misuse of public funds to the tune of over two billion Old Leones.

The over Two Billion Old Leones was disbursed by the Financial Secretary under a project titled ‘SLBC 2023 Elections Coverage,’ the Director General confirmed.

An anonymous letter addressed to the Commissioner of the ACC, claimed that, “The said funds were stolen between May and July 2023 which were meant for the June 24th elections to the tune of around a billion old Leones or more.”

The author of the letter states that, “I have seen a letter addressed to the Financial Secretary dated 23rd May 2023 captioned: Disbursement of Second tranche for SLBC Elections Coverage. It requests for release of the said funds totaling One Billion Old Leones One Hundred and Sixty-Two Million Five Hundred Thousand Old Leone. These funds, both first and second Tranche, came under the project titled SLBC 2023 Elections Coverage that was addressed to the Financial Secretary in May 2022.”

While the Director General couldn’t deny receiving the money, he told Concord Times that, the said disbursement was made a month to the elections, and that they used part of it to buy equipment and provide some incentives to staff.

He said the first tranche, which is One Billion Leones that was transferred into the institution’s account was used with the consensus of senior management staff in a meeting.

He said the institution was yet to receive it substantive subvention of Four Billion Leones and that part of the two billion Leones received for the elections coverage was used to furnish administrative cost.

Aside from the two billion Leones allegedly stolen at the institution, claims are that other funds were also stolen between September 2022 and February 2023 running to or above one Billion Old Leones.

“The majestic sofa chair you see at the SLBC reception is an instrument for hiding stolen wealth,” the letter claims.

Other issue raised in the anonymous letter is the unfair payment of salary in which junior staff members received equal pay as their bosses.

“Mr. Commissioner, what is never hidden at SLBC is payment of director/consultant salary to junior staff. Every staff at SLBC knows this. It is not hidden. Nancy Sesay is a Commercial Officer receiving a director salary, and carries a consultant pin code. Papanie Conteh is Finance Manager that receives the same salary as his boss, the director,” the letter claims.

But the Director-General told Concord Times that he is not the one that determines the salaries of staff, and that even his own salary is determined by the Secretary to the President and the Financial Secretary at the Ministry of Finance.

“My brothers, about 80% of our staff are school leavers and to advocate for their salaries to increase can be difficult. Most of them are aggrieved that people who are graduates with less experience, compared to them who have been here for years, are receiving more pay. To be honest, they are very good on the job but the problem is their qualification. Even as that, I have made some moves and gotten approval for 50% salary increment which is going to be effective come October,” he said..

As if the corruption allegations are not enough, workers of the broadcasting house are aggrieved with the leadership of the corporation, as many complained that their condition of service is so appalling.

In a letter addressed to the new Minister of Information and Civic Education, Chernor Bah, staff requested for an immediate inquiry into the alleged embezzlement and deep animosity at the Broadcasting House.

“Your Auradicals Brotherhood relationship with the DG – Joseph Egbenda Kapuwa and his sycophantic actions/moves as evidenced in his July 31 2023 03:14 PM Facebook post are sufficient for anyone to suspect as reasons for such lethargy,” the letter reads.

The staff drew the attention of the minister to the appalling condition of the main studios {television precisely}, in spite of how much has been spent on it by particularly the BBC Media Action and the government {under the leadership of your immediate predecessor}, to transform the broadcast activities that should bring the institution up to speed with even newly established broadcast entities.  

It was also alleged in the letter that huge sums of taxpayers monies {about seven billion or so} which had been remitted by the state to set up two new television studios to substitute the one and only studio that has been painstakingly used for decades till date or be alternatives, but that work had long stopped before some forms of understanding were reached with Africell which had also stopped work on same for some time now.  

It was further claimed in the letter that many  staff that had left the institution would have loved to stay and work for the SLBC if all was going on well, especially improvement and facelift to the output of the institution they so dearly loved.

According to the staff, besides the upward salary review which has been a major cause for concern and distress in recent months amidst high cost of living, the institution, until mid-August 2023, was without internet since around November-December of 2022.

Computers and other important gears in the newsroom and other essential units are in broken/shabby conditions. 

There is also the issue of forgery as claimed by the Engineering Department of the Corporation.

In a letter dated 23rd August 2023, the Director of Engineering also complained that his signature was scanned and presented to the finance office, requesting for monies to do some maintenance of transmitters in the regions, studio maintenance, purchase of software, among several more.

He also requested that for the period of 2019 to 2023, finance department provides him with all the documents and vouchers that have been used for financial transaction so that he can verify that his signature was never been used in those documents for financial transactions.

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