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…Civil Society activist in police net

February 1, 2017 By Mohamed Massaquoi

The Chief Executive Officer of Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) was yesterday detained by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), allegedly on the orders of parliament.

Abdul Fatoma was horridly transferred to the CID for further investigations after attending a brief session with lawmakers in the House of Parliament and was still detained at CID as at press time.

Last year, Fatoma published a report in which he claimed that after investigations, his organisation had discovered that over Le120 billion was spent on parliamentarians in the last five years, adding that there was no supporting evidence to show how the said amount was expended. He said there was a clear risk of fraud involving taxpayers’ money.

“We know that even the country’s Auditor General’s Office has highlighted in their report on the audit of the management of the Ebola funds in 2015, that during the course of the verification exercise, the audit team confirmed that the payment of Le110, 460,000 by the Ministry of Health to the Honourable Members was indeed on the 22nd of August, 2014,” Fatoma is reported to have disclosed in his report.

He claimed that his team of investigators further confirmed that the payment of the Constituency Development Fund to lawmakers by Parliament had already been done on 18th August, 2014 before it was later converted for Ebola sensitisation. These were among many other allegations made by Fatoma and his organisation against Parliament that may have prompted lawmakers to refer him to CID for investigation.

Before his arrest yesterday, Fatoma was a guest on Radio Democracy, FM98.1’s popular ‘Good Morning Salone’ programme where he was asked to justify some of the allegations made against Parliament.

He was accompanied to the CID by his lawyers, Francis Ben Keifala and Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai. He told Concord Times that he was fine and comfortable with police interrogation, especially as his lawyers were present.

“I am ok but the only issue is that I have been here since this morning and the police have still not relieved me,” he expressed concern.

Meanwhile, immediately after the publication of the report last year, he told Concord Times that no amount of intimidation by Members of Parliament would prevent his organisation from moving ahead with their accountability campaign, following a dismissive reaction by some lawmakers to a CHRDI press release dated 26 July, 2016 which alleged that parliamentarians and parliamentary officials had failed to properly account for over Le120 billion spent on Parliament by government in the last five years.

“We are aware that in their feeble attempts to threaten our organisation for asking these questions, they have indicated their intent to use “Contempt of Parliament” as provided for in the Constitution, to intimidate and silence us. No amount of intimidation from corrupt individual(s) in and out of Parliament would prevent us from doing that,” he vowed.
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