-Prosecuting Counsel tells Commission
March 12, 2019
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
State Prosecutor, Robert B. Kowa, in the on-going Commission of Inquiry presided over by Justice Bankole Thompson, has claimed that persons of interest were on the verge of manufacturing documents to defend themselves before the commission.
“My Lord, we are aware that since the commencement of the Commission of Inquiry, people of interest were on the verge of manufacturing documents,” he claimed.
Kowa made the above claim yesterday while Lawyer Lansana Dumbuya, who represented the former Ministers of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, was cross-examining the former Permanent Secretary at the said ministry, Abdulai Koroma,.
He raised the issue after Lawyer Lansana Dumbuya stated that he was of the belief that the Sierra Leone Audit Service did not include in their report, all the documentation provided to them by the ministry.
The prosecutor further stated that they were not only before the Commissions of Inquiry to assist, but also to investigate and that they have also called on the intervention of Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
On Monday, 4th March, 2019, the former Permanent Secretary testified before the Commission of Inquiry on how the controversial two hundred and fifty thousand bags of fertilizer was procured by his ministry.
He had recalled the projects he undertook including the procurement of two hundred and fifty thousand bags of fertilizer, at that time he was serving as Permanent Secretary.
Although he had admitted being one of the signatories to the ministry’s account, he could not tell as to how many bank accounts the ministry was running.
He declined knowledge of the ‘World Food day Account’-that was ran by the ministry, but admitted recognizing the document for the contract between the Government of Sierra Leone and Balsam Enterprises.
He said the document contained a minute from the former Minister, Professor Monti Jones, and President Ernest Bai Koroma, requesting for an executive clearance for the procurement of two hundred and fifty thousand bags of fertilizer to support the implementation of Presidential Recovery Priority initiative.
He had told the commission that they undertook a restrictive bidding process to procure the fertilizer.
He said they had requested the purchase of sixty thousand bags of NPK 20,20 20, one hundred thousand bags of NPK 15, 15, 15 and ninety thousand bags of urea 46% fertilizer.
He said the ministry was prompted to procure such a huge amount of fertilizer to support an initiative to promote the production of the country’s staple food including rice, onion, maze among others, noting that the initiative was deliberated by the professional heads of the ministry and that they held several meetings in respect of the purchasing of the fertilizer.
He added that the type of fertilizer to purchase was suggested by the immediate past minister, Prof. Monti Jones.
He said according to the procurement officer, they invited five bidders for each lot of the three lots, noting that he invited bidders through a database at the ministry.