ACC May Crackdown on Ernest Koroma’s Family
The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) may be poised to make a swoop on some family members of President Ernest Bai Koroma as the Head of State has finally broken the long silence on corrupt individuals in his government and some members of his family that stand accused of gross corrupt acts that are indistinguishable from the very thing the president vows to fight against, which in his opinion and that of many sound minded citizens, is the foremost destructive element of the progress and development of the country.
This was done on Tuesday at a Press Conference held for the media and business people in the country at State House in Freetown, reiterating that there is for him no sacred cow; not in his government nor in his family. If this proclamation holds true for the president there is no standing in the way of the ACC, it is expected that the commission launch intensive investigations into issue of public indiscretion engaged in by members of the Koroma family as well some members of his cabinet according to denting revelations.
It could be recalled that just before the conduct of the London Investment Conference last November, the Chairman of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party John Oponjo Benjamin wrote a an extensive letter to President Koroma cataloging corrupt activities undertaken by some members of the Koroma government at the same time showing concern for what he called entrenched corrupt activities engaged in by members of the fist family namely the sister of president Koroma, Admire Sesay, and brother Slyvanus Koroma.
Although some have politicized such serious accusations, they were nevertheless worthy of examination owing to the credence and seriousness with which they were forwarded and articulated by the opposition party. By then and whatever the reason was, the president who had always tried to stay white and clean said nothing about the allegations preferring to stay quiet until now.
Concerns raised by the chief opposition party in the country cataloguing President Koroma and his government as corrupt to the extent that activities by the government according to the released SLPP memo on corruption in the ruling party “could potentially destroy all efforts in developing our country and quickly diminish the international goodwill Sierra Leone currently enjoys” cannot be easily dismissed owing to their grave nature.
Most of the concerns raised by the SLPP which could have been apparently used to expose the government in the just concluded confab, assert that President Koroma is running a family government wherein most of the lucrative contracts are awarded to his family members and close kinsmen. Others show that the president is paying lip service to his avowals that his government tolerates no sacred cow in his proclaimed fight to coil corruption in the country.
The document went further to support many of the concerns the Sierra Leone media has been raising in terms of corruption as in the “improper award of the National Power Authority contract for the supply of electricity to Freetown by the Minister of Energy and Power, Afsatu Kabba”. Whilst not much was heard at the time from the apparent corrupt free president Ernest Bai Koroma, it is also evident that the ACC investigated the matter only to prove that the contract was irregularly awarded; with cost and other conditions surrounding the deal proving not to be in public interest; which in very clear terms is tantamount to corruption in every sense.
According to the SLPP release, the Ernest Koroma “government was forced to renegotiate the contract bringing it to US$26 million from an initial contract price of US$ 52 million” attesting to the lopsided nature of the first deal the government struck with the service provider and if the assertion that an additional loan was raised in the tune of US$14 million without also going through the due provisions of the law, then the indictment of corruption in the KoromaÂ Government and family is very serious and denting.
Quoting the SLPP assertion, “there is also documentary proof showing that about US$1million duty waiver was granted to Harmony Trading Company (now defunct) operated by your younger brother – Sylvannus Koroma. Immediately it benefited from the waiver, Harmony Trading went defunct and metamorphosed into a brand new company known as Sierra Commodities Ltd.,” if this is so and its an established fact that Sylvanus Koroma is heading the Sierra Commodities that has benefited from series of government contracts and duty free concessions, then President Koroma cannot in anyway be aided in this matter, at best; he has to provide an explanation to the public and ACC. Questions like who offered the duty waiver and what is the motivation must be answered. In the ACC act, it is clear that awarding public contracts to kinsmen and other relations could be tantamount to conflict of interest and thus a clear manifestation of corruption if proven. Ernest Bai Koroma must be probed.
There is also the problem quoted by the SLPP “we are concerned that your elder sister; Admire Sesay (the wife of Alpha Sesay, Managing Director of Sierra Leone Telecommunications (SIERRATEL) who runs a restaurant called Palladio keeps bagging huge government contracts using her influence without competing on public tender. We are equally concerned that almost all catering services for government functions, including the Conference of Finance Ministers recently held in Freetown were provided by Palladio” this also is yet to be trashed by Ernest Koroma and we figure the ACC will take charge on the matter.
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