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Commission of Inquiry

Accountant says Community development fund withdrawn from mines ministry account

May 27, 2019

By Dusuba Koroma

commision

Senior Accountant at the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, Thomas Jonjo, has testified before Commissions of Inquiry room 1, presided over by Justice Biobele Georgewill that, billions of Leones meant for community development were withdrawn from four accounts of the Ministry of Mines.

Jonjo who claimed to have been working in the ministry since 2014, told the commission that his responsibility as senior accountant at the ministry is to oversee the ministry’s account and advise on financial related matters.

In his testimony, Jonjo explained that the Ministry of Finance is the only source of revenue for Mines Ministry and that they operate four accounts, including the Imprest  Account, Diamond Area Community Fund Account, Rutile Account and the Rehabilitation Account.

He added that it is the National Mineral Agency that launches monies into those accounts.

Document consisting  bank statements and payment vouchers marked as exhibit P8 were tendered for three accounts in different districts, with the exception of the Imprest Account.

For the Diamond Area Community Development Fund Account, different amount from Kenema, Bombali, Tonkolili, Kambia, Port Loko, Kailahun and Pujehun were read out with Kono District topping the chat with Le1, 129,903,835.00, followed by Bo District with Le394, 903,784.00.

With regards the Rehabilitation account, he stated that they have not been using it and that he has no knowledge about the said account, unlike the Permanent Secretary who might have knowledge about it.

But according to the bank statements, monies deposited by small scale artisanal mining were withdrawn from the said account.

For the Rutile Account, the evidence proved that over Le 341,000,000 was invested by unidentified persons and that from the sale of the 709 diamond, it was also revealed that Le11, 499,110,000.00 was deposited into the said account, while Le2,691,523,205.00 was credited and paid to Gouji Construction for the development of Koryadu Community were the diamond was found.

The witness was asked as to why it was the ministry that awarded the contract instead of the community people since it was their money; he replied that the decision was based on a consultative agreement between the ministry and community people.

But the Judge in his practice direction said that, “You should have met the indigenes and tell them that your own share is 11 billion and allow them to tell you what they wanted.”

The witness stated that the money was too huge for the community people to handle.

At the same ministry, the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Fatmata Mustapha was also cross examined by lead state counsel, O.V Robin Mason.

When asked as to what the Rehabilitation Account was meant for, she replied that it was meant for import and export licenses for either gold or diamond.

She confirmed to the commission that she is in charge of authorizing payments, but when evidences from the 2017 audit report were brought out showing that $1,024,009 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, $946,503 from mines monitoring fund, Le315, 501  from the NMA , $1.5 million and from the community development account were debited from 2012 to 20117,she declined knowledge of authorizing either of the payments.

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