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Lapses in the financial administration and mismanagement at Human Rights Commission

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone is currently saddled with “lapses in the financial administration” and “financial mismanagement”, according to a memo by Commissioner Daphne Olu-Williams dated 30 April, 2014.

The memo was in response to another memo the forthright commissioner had received from the acting Public Information Officer of the Commission, Ismail Bayoh, in respect of questions bordering around integrity issues at the Commission Concord Times had posed to the latter.

In reply to the said memo, Commissioner Olu-Williams wrote: “…I would like to state that I have raised a number of issues directed at lapses in the financial administration that obviously gives room for financial mismanagement but cannot recall that I have at anytime directed such to the person of the Executive Secretary.”

This medium had posed few questions to the Commission pertaining to issues of financial mismanagement and procedural lapses at the Commission, based on a memo and minutes of meetings in our possession, in which commissioners expressed grave concern about the state of affairs at the Commission.

However, we at no time said that Commissioner Olu-Williams had pointed accusing fingers at the Executive Secretary specifically.

Rather, in our Tuesday, 30 April edition, we raised a number of issues, including the alleged dubious disbursement of donor funds and government subventions, lapses in procurement procedures, and whether Executive Secretary, Ms. Francess Alghali, has refunded Le.16 million she was ordered by Commissioners to refund, after it was discovered she attended the 53rd session of the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights on an ISPHR sponsorship in Banjul, The Gambia, even though the Commission had also paid for her trip.

After that publication, the Commission, our sources say, went into a frenzy of activities as staff, at the finance department sought to put their books in order. We are also told that the former director of finance was also called to crosscheck his books.

In his response to our numerous queries, more than a week after we posed our questions, Mr. Bayoh, apparently quoting certain commissioners and the director of finance, told Concord Times the Commission had their books audited by the Audit Service in 2012, although we could not independently verify the claim as the Auditor General’s Report of 2012 does not mention the Human Rights Commission.

In a bizarre coincidence, he informed that newspapers will today begin advertising for private auditors to audit the United Nations Peace Building Funds, which is just one among many donor funds which has not been audited, which we had stated in our 30 April edition.

He said just 2000 copies of the State of Human Rights Report 2012 were printed, as that was what was budgeted for. However, we are yet to verify a report to the UN Peacebuilding Fund which seems to indicate that 2,500 copies were printed and disseminated.

Also, he said the acting chair of the Commission, Ms. Jamesina King, had refuted claims that the Executive Secretary was asked by the Commission to refund the aforementioned Le.16 million, although minutes of the Commission indicate otherwise.

Meanwhile, Concord Times continues investigations into the award of contract by the Commission to a certain Mr. Moor with respect to the preservation and digitisation of the Truth and Reconciliation Archives.

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