Mohamed Bangura receives Le25m as farewell from SALCAB
August 13, 2019
By Jariatu S. Bangura
Former Board Chairman of the Sierra Leone Cable Limited (SALCAB) has told the Commission of Inquiry presided over by Justice Bankole Johnson that twenty five million Leones (Le25, 000,000) was given to Mohamed Bangura as farewell, having served as Minister of Information and Communications.
According to Idrissa Yillah, the Company made the said payment to Mohamed Bangura and Cornelius Devaux, adding that in 2016 another payment was made to him while he was serving as former deputy Minister of Information.
“There was only one payment made to Cornelius Devaux and Mohamed Bangura. If I could recall, there was a request for SALCAB to pay Mr. Devaux’s Daily Sustenance Allowance (DSA) to attend a seminar. An amounts totalling Le 431,250,000 was given to former Hon. Binneh Bangura who was Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Communications,” he disclosed.
He also told the Commission that several funds were disbursed totalling Le1, 897, 965,000 to government institutions, individuals and non- governmental institutions.
He said an amount of Le 189,450,000 for the resuscitation of Daily Mail in 2016, but could not produce any copy of the said newspaper before the Commission.
He said they had a request from the Ministry of Information and based on A meeting held, it was agreed that SALCAB should contribute to the resuscitation of Daily Mail.
“All I can say is that I know for the act that some papers were printed out. As a child grown up in Freetown, I knew where Daily Mail building was, but I don’t know where it has currently been relocated. I am aware of the financial role of my institution and I was always mindful of those responsibilities,” he said.
The former chairman told the Commission that according to a letter sent from the Ministry of Information, the Chairman, Managing Director and Director of SALCAB should be responsible for the day -to – day management and operations of the company, but disagreed that there was a time limit for such.
He admitted that he was part of the decision taken by the management of SALCAB and that he was a signatory to the company’s accounts.
He said according to the exhibit before the Commission, he was part of the team that authorised the transfer of funds and that it was true that transfers made did not indicate any recipients based on the fact that SALCAB was part of a Consortium made up of parties that are connected to the sub-marine cable called African Coast in Europe.
He said there is a Consortium agreement made up of parties that are signatories to that agreement and that those transfers were payment for SALCAB to meet its financial obligations for the sub- marine cables.
He said the monies were meant for maintenance and operational cost of the sub-marine cables.
“Before those payments were made, SALCAB will have to receive an invoice for the amount due to its obligations upon which payment were made at the Head Quarters in France. It was a swift transfer and it was true that there was no recipients indicated, but at the time the auditors prepared the report, they failed to consult the past management or the accounts that these monies were in,” he said.
He said the amount stated in the exhibit-$382,971.63- that is before the Commission includes his salaries, benefits, allowance, traveling allowances/DSA on various conferences, meetings and seminars.
He told the Commission that he was unable to give the specific breakdown for all the aforementioned allocations of money, but stated that the past management had submitted the necessary breakdown in a spreadsheet form to the Parliamentary Account Committee on some of those costs.
“It is true that I have a spreadsheet before me now and I can identify the name Mustapha Sillah as he was my Administrative Officer. It is correct that those monies were received in his name as indicated in the pages of the exhibit before the Commission. He received the payments based on the cheque requisition and the payment voucher in the form of a memo for various activities that were undertaken by the Company,” he said.
He further stated that Mr. Sillah was responsible for the petty cash, disbursement of SALCAB and that he also controls the cash of the cheques written at times to staff members going up country on field trips.
He said there should be record to indicate the sum of monies received by staff members going up country, adding that SALCAB has ADM sites all over the country through the landing fibre optic cable.
He said whenever there was an issue or the necessity for staff to go up country, the Administrative Office will have to prepare a request for payment inclusive of fuel for official vehicles, DSAs for official and other staff members.
Yillah noted that the cheques were signed by the then Managing Director and himself as the then Board Chairman.
He confirmed that SALCAB did have a standing arrangement with Petroleum companies from whom they purchase fuel from.
“The agreement made with various oil companies were for the generators at the landing stations and other ADM sites all over the country. I am not saying that all purchases of fuel are done in cash as for the ADM sites, bulk purchases were done for their generators. For other needs in terms of fuel, once a staff want to go up country to do inspection and to address other issues, we usually issue cheques for duties they are to undertake,” he said.