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Sierra Leone News: Isha Johansen Acquitted of Corruption Charges

Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) President Isha Johansen

Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) President Isha Johansen has been acquitted on all counts of corruption by a court in Freetown.

She was acquitted by Justice Reginald Fynn of all corruption charges. Also acquitted is the SLFA’s Secretary General Chris Kamara.

They had been suspended from the SLFA. The charges were brought up in October 2017 by former Anti-Corruption Commissioner Ady Macauley. There were 11 charges in total on misappropriation focusing on the sum of $50,000 given to the SLFA by the African Confederation.

This acquittal means that Johansen and Kamara can resume their roles at the SLFA. It also means the FIFA ban against Sierra Leone will be lifted. It also means that new elections can be held for the SLFA leadership.

Johansen and co. have held their posts since August 2013.

Her acquittal, along with SLFA General Secretary Christopher Kamara, paves the way for the lifting of a ban from global football.

Football’s world governing body, Fifa, suspended Sierra Leone in October last year due to the third-party interference in the running of the SLFA,

Soon after the suspension, Fifa said it would “wait for the completion of the trial before further measures can be considered, including the lifting of the suspension, if deemed appropriate.”

The ban came after the country’s anti-corruption commission (ACC) set aside Johansen and Kamara and handed over control of the SLFA to Vice-President Brima Mazola Kamara and Assistant Secretary General Abdul Rahman Swarray.

The ACC says that under Sierra Leone law, both Johansen and Kamara must vacate their posts until their case on corruption-related charges concludes.

Fifa always maintained that it would only recognise Johansen as the SLFA President.

The original corruption charges against the pair were drastically reduced from ten counts to three, and from four to three for Kamara.

Johansen and Kamara have always denied any wrongdoing.

Sierra Leone’s ban saw them disqualified from the qualifying campaign for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

 

Sierra Leone News: Attack on Basita Michael Condemned

Basita Michael Esq

One of the versatile legal luminaries that is widely known and respected for her uprightness and positive disposition, Basita Michael Esq, who happens to be the President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, has once more come under the spotlight  for her expressed views on national matters.

Few days ago the women of Sierra Leone joined by the Christian Lawyers Centre (LEGAL LINK) to condemn the volume of verbal attacks and frustrations that have been exported on her,  for simply expressing her candid opinion on how sustainable peace and national cohesion can be achieved in the State during the Bintumani 3 Conference.

According to LEGAL LINK, as an organisation that defends the rights of Human Rights Defenders in Sierra Leone, they take the greatest exception to this unsavoury behaviour and the utmost dislike for dissenting voices in a democratic society.

In a release issued out recently, LEGAL LINK states: “We have taken the pains to listen to and critically analyse the statement of Basita Michael at the Peace and National Cohesion Conference (Bintumani 111) for which she is being vilified. It is our candid opinion that her statements were not only factually correct but were also said in good faith and at the right platform whose primary objective was to seek for solutions that will foster lasting peace and social cohesion in the State.”

As a matter of fact, LEGAL LINK went on, the ECOWAS Representative and the Representatives from Kenya and Rwanda also made strong statements and condemnation against policies and practices within a State that marginalizes a particular group of persons on the basis of their tribe, sex, region, colour or political orientation.

LEGAL LINK said there was consensus amongst all the international Representatives present at Bintumani 3 that such political ethnocentricisms, narrow and parochial assumptions should be detested in the State if lasting peace and social cohesion is to be achieved.

But why then the verbal outrage and outburst on Basita Michael’s presentation and not her male counterparts has been one of the perturbing questions asked by LEGAL LINK.

According to them, the reason is simple – dominance; sexism; parochiality and male chauvinistic attitudes at play. It is not a coincidence or a surprise that all the frontline critics of the iron lady have been men. I will explain.

In Sierra Leone, notwithstanding the plausible efforts of past and current governments to put women at the centre of development through the enactment of laws and policies, much cannot be accounted for in terms of real gains and successes.

A cursory look at women’s representation in the legislative, executive and judicial arms of government in Sierra Leone will reveal that challenges still exist in terms of access, equality and non- discrimination.

It is important to emphasize that Basita Michael is not the only victim to the campaign for women’s rising in Sierra Leone. Other notable women that have dared to cross the line have faced similar embarrassments and assassinations of their characters.

Her worship, Yvonne Aki Sawyer, Mayor of the Municipality of Freetown for example has witnessed tough moments of undue criticisms and bashing over her quest to initiate independent policies and programmes to govern the Municipality of Freetown during the first year of her tenure.

Marcella Samba, Head of Campaign for Good Governance has also witnessed her own lots for standing up and speaking out. Her forthrightness and aggressiveness in pushing for the truth has been often misinterpreted to mean disrespect for state officials and protocols. Her recent admonition over 98.1 radio for both President Bio and the former President, Ernest Bai Koroma, to reach out to each other and be seen hand in gloves before the conference was greeted with strong outrage and resentments by critics in many social media platforms.

But notwithstanding the political hullabaloo, alas, ‘chickens have come home to roost’.

From the above points raised, it stands to reason therefore that the verbal outbursts and rhetoric on Basita Michael’s presentation was not just an exception but rather a display of a continued pattern, a rule as well as an optic revealing the gauge and extent to which our society is still in denial of providing the space for women to fully participate in the social, political and decision making processes in Sierra Leone.

To this end, LEGAL LINK called on Governments to do more than just the ordinary if the status quo is to change in fundamental terms.

They recommended the need to embark on smart and concrete solutions that will help demystify rhetoric and nuances that undermines women’s empowerment in Sierra Leone. Like Rwanda, a country reputed as model to the world in terms of Women’s access to political and decision making platforms, Sierra Leone should implement to the fullest the TRC’s 30% minimum quota recommendation in all spheres of public life. This will certainly help in changing attitudes and perceptions of Women in Sierra Leone.

Also, being a party to the CEDAW Convention and the MAPUTO Protocol is good but translating such legislative obligations into real outcomes at the national level is what is desirable.

Finally, from the plethora of attacks that have been levied against women activists both in the past and in the now, it begs for the urgent passing of a law that protects human rights defenders in Sierra Leone.

LEGAL LINK is a non- profit legal advocacy group that seeks to defend the rights of religious communities and vulnerable groups in Sierra Leone through public interest litigation, advocacy, legal and policy reforms and ensuring respect for fundamental human rights in both domestic and international law.

 

Sierra Leone News: President Bio Receives Trophies from Premier League Board

President Julius Maada Bio

The Sierra Leone Premier League Board presented trophies for the 2018/2019 Premier League to His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio at a meeting held at State House.

Chairman of the Premier League Board, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, said they were meeting with the President to formally present to him the premier league trophies courtesy of the fact that the Premier League Board got substantial support from the Government, out of which they were able to organize the league as well as procure the trophies. He added that it was essential to present the trophies to the President as a show of respect and because of the President’s personal commitment to revive football.

“We want to thank Government very much for supporting us. At the time we were appointed we were scrambling all over the place looking for money but thankfully you came to our aid and we have been making good use of what we got. The league has created quite a number of jobs for young people. Different leagues are being played right across the country and we believe it is the beginning of a fruitful journey,” Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai said.

In his response, President Bio thanked the Board for all the amount of work placed in organizing the league and how well they had been able to organize it. He recalled that before the league started everyone thought football was dead but the Board was able to take up the challenge and had proven that Sierra Leoneans were able to actually organize themselves.

“We are proud of how well you have been able to manage the finance. We want to make sure that Sierra Leoneans continue to love their football and that is what you have done, so I want to thank all of you for making us proud and for keeping us all busy with the league. We will continue to support and work very hard to make sure that Sierra Leoneans continue to love football,” he assured.

 

Chairman of the Premier League Board, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai and President Bio

 

Sierra Leone News: Ghanaian Special Envoy Pays Courtesy Call on President Bio at State House

Ghana, Professor George Gyan-Baffour and President Julius Maada Bio

Special Envoy and Minister of Planning in Ghana, Professor George Gyan-Baffour, on Tuesday 28th May 2019 met with His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio at State House to discuss bilateral relations between the two West African nations.

The two men spoke on a wide range of issues including regional and sub-regional cooperation and talked about deepening the already existing bilateral relations they enjoyed.

In his brief remarks, President Bio said: “Our countries are very close in terms of our relationship and we are open up to further strengthen that. So, it is a pleasure to have you here”.

It could be recalled that in October last year, the Rtd. Brig. General made his first official visit to Accra, the capital of Ghana, as President of Sierra Leone where he was welcomed by his counterpart, President Nana Akufo-Addo.

The two Heads of State had also met at a separate bilateral summit in Accra where they both expressed satisfaction with the warm and cordial relations that existed between the two countries and reaffirmed their determination to widen the ties.

 

Sierra Leone News: FCC to Construct 5000 Housing Units for slum dwellers

Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyer

Recently, the Mayor of Freetown revealed that she is working on the commencement of work for the construction of 5000 housing units for low earners in Sierra Leonean capital. Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyer said Monday the project is targeted at slum dwellers.

She was speaking as she announced commencement of feasibility study in the slum communities and the potential areas where the housing projects will be hosted.

The World Bank supported project, under it’s Urban Resilience Project, is part of plans to decongest the city which is struggling to meet demands for social services due to over population.

Lack of housing has forced some Sierra Leoneans to live in dangerous locations, like slums, up steep hills and even under bridges.

Residents of the city’s over 70 slum communities are also posing a serious stress on the environment, as illustrated by encroachment into the sea.

Slums are also a major health issue for the Government, as they are susceptible to frequent outbreaks of Cholera and other infectious diseases.

The housing project is also part of Mayor Aki-Sawyer’s ‘Transform Freetown’ agenda.

“We are looking at how to upgrade some of the slum communities, but also there will be some movement,” she said.

She disclosed that three areas in the Western Area Urban and Western Area Rural are being assessed to host the new communities.

 

Sierra Leone News: 500 schools to benefit from Internet Connectivity

On Monday, 27th May, 2019, officials of the Sierra Leone Cable Limited (SALCAB)  told newsmen that they were set to take internet connectivity to 500 schools, colleges and 15 public hospitals, under their ‘Project One Access’.

Speaking to the media at the fibre optic landing site on Lumley-Beach-Road office in Freetown, SALCAB’s Managing Director, Ishmael Kebbay, said his institution believes in President Bio’s vision of improving on human capital development.

He said for the first phase of the ‘Project One Access’, they would target 500 schools, colleges and 15 public schools, noting that by 2023, they would have targeted 1,000 schools and major public health centres.

“We aim to connect 500 schools plus 16 district libraries with free quality internet in the first phase of this project. Schools, colleges and public hospitals, which are 34 kilometres of SALCAB’s points-of-presence, will benefit from this program across the country. We will also repair 23 kilometres of damaged fibre optic cables that were destroyed during the construction of the Sewafe-Koidu road in Kono district,” he said.

He said some of the beneficiary schools are connected to solar electricity for 12 hours a day, noting that it will be easy for them to benefit from this program.

Chairman, SALCAB’s Board of Directors, Sorie Fofanah, said his institution’s goal is to connect 1,000 schools, colleges by 2023 with high-speed internet services.

He noted that SALCAB, through the Ministry of Finance, will secure from China’s Eximbank the sum of 34 million United States Dollars (US$34m) to complete the deployment of the fibre network to more provincial cities townships.

Adel Suliman, Afcom’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SALCAB’s partner, through the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), said ‘Project One Access’ is to support the government’s free quality education.

He said once the first phase of this project would have been implemented, there would be online learning materials, which would subsequently reduce learning deficiencies in schools.

Another SALCAB’s partner, Mahmoud Idriss, CEO of Niche-Technologies, said it takes vision and sense of purpose for SALCAB to embark on such project, noting that when this project would have been implemented, what’s happening in the physical forms would be put into digital ones for students to learn faster.

He said there are some teachers and pupils who have never touched computers but would get access to such during the implementation of the project.

Minister, Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Alpha Timbo, welcomes SALCAB’s ‘Project One Access’ and said it would help his Ministry keep data easily.

“Every child in this country should have access to internet connectivity. This project is only limited to Government and government-assisted schools. We would ensure that we monitor the facility once it is implemented so as to ensure its security and sustainability,” he said.

SALCAB’s Managing Director signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with both Afcom and Niche-Technologies in order to ensure the speedy implementation of this project.

Sierra Leone News: First Lady & JMBWW Offer Iftar to Military Personnel   

Madam Fatima Maada Bio and the JMB Women

In a commendable and appreciable move, First Lady, Her Excellency Fatima Bio on Monday 27th May 2019 displayed her love for her people during the month of Ramadan by joining the Julius Maada Bio Women’s Wing (JMBWW) to personally cook food and serve worshippers at the Sierra Leone Armed Forces headquarters in Freetown.

This act of “Iftar” (fast break) could also be related to “zakat” (almsgiving), a prerequisite for every true Muslim during the Month of Ramadan. Madam Fatima Maada Bio and the JMB women have inspired the nation to embrace the act of giving to all, irrespective of political affiliation or any other personal attachment.
In her brief statement, Fatima Maada Bio said she was very happy to see every person satisfied with the sumptuous meal that the JMBWW served.

She highlighted in clear terms that rendering alms during Ramadan demonstrates her affection for the people and added that she would obviously do the same thing for her Christian brothers and sisters during Christmas and other Christian celebrations.

The First Lady concluded that Sierra Leone is a beautiful country with unquestionable religious tolerance which other countries admire and that the new Direction Government is committed to sustaining peace and national cohesion in the country.

According to Her Excellency, she was overwhelmed and very happy to see every person satisfied with the sumptuous meal the JMBWW served.

Chief of Defese Staff, Lt-General Brima Kargbo

She however highlighted in clear terms that as much as she gives arms during Ramadan, is the same way she will give during Christian celebrations, as Sierra Leone is a beautiful country with unquestionable religious tolerance which other countries admire.

 

Sierra Leone News: NP-SL Enhances National Development

The National Petroleum Sierra Leone (NP-SL) has been highly commended for remarkable service delivery to its numerous customers both within and out of the country. Without any iota of doubt the company has been greatly contributing towards poverty reduction with regards putting money in the pockets of  its employees.

With unique state-of-the-art filling stations that are providing timely services the company has been rated as one of the most successful indigenous business entities that  always ensures it lives up to expectation.

Management of NP places premium on offering the best geared to giving value for money.

As a matter of importance NP considers its customers of different categories to be paramount treating them with all the maximum attention they do deserve.

The company is very particular that there are high grades of petrol, diesel, kerosene which are easily accessible..

That is one major reason why the National Petroleum (NP) Sierra Leone Limited is always held in very high esteem.

Indeed, this assertion has been unchallenged against the backdrop that the company has never faltered in its obligation.

It is a fact that human existence cannot suffice in the absence of fuel which is why the relevance of NP cannot in any way be underrated.

One outstanding thing that the company is noted for its immense contribution in offering jobs to different class of people proving that it is not just the prerogative of Government to do such as the private sector too could play a vital role in that direction.

NP is widely known for facilitating safer and cleaner means of cooking. NP Gas Cooker are now household commodities which are affordable and readily available in all their outlets nationwide.

To keep abreast with latest technological trends the company has availed its customers the opportunity to use Smart Cards for purchasing purpose, meaning that buyers could top-up their cards to the tune of any amount which they can use intermittently to procure petroleum products. This has made it convenient for easy transactions to transpire and many are comfortable with that.

When we talk of an indigenous company that has put smiles on the faces of Sierra Leoneans and is making the people of this country very proud, the National Petroleum Company stands taller than the rest! For a company to move beyond the shores of this country and establish branches in Liberia, Guinea, Ivory Coast and The Gambia which are vibrantly operating is no mean feat. Indeed, NP has added another feather to its cap and is being copiously praised for such an accomplishment.

The company’s result-oriented managerial team will definitely and sustainably continue to put NP at the top.

NP-SL Ltd is doing exceptionally well in all the countries it is functioning and indeed there are prospects for further expansion.

It can therefore be justifiably asserted that the National Petroleum Limited is the country’s reliable fuel provider as it always ensures that its stockpile is always at an appreciable level.

Against this background NP is believed to be one of the strong back bones of Sierra Leone’s economy.

The Management of NP is well determined to continue to contribute  to development and despite the challenges it is currently grappling with it will steadily make commendable strides that will benefit the majority.

Sierra Leone News: Sierra Leone Restarts 4th Licensing Round

Sierra Leone’s offshore seismic and well data 

Sierra Leone has put on a brave face and announced a rehashed package for bidders interested in taking part in its fourth hydrocarbons licensing round that was suddenly put on the ice in September 2018 after a new administration took charge of the West African country following successful Presidential elections.

After long spells of battling the deadly Ebola virus and managing to achieve a semblance of political and economic stability, Sierra Leone says it is now ready to restart last year’s suspended fourth licensing round targeting offshore prospects after what the government says was broad consultation process involving domestic and international petroleum industry players.

Although the country is grappling with high unemployment levels, persistent graft claims and a generally weak governance structure as it still continues to recover from the than one decade of civil war, Sierra Leone has this week come out to reaffirm the soundness of its new regulatory and fiscal framework on which the success or failure of the new licensing round will be hinged on.

Getech Group, a partner with government hydrocarbons agency Petroleum Directorate of Sierra Leone (PDSL) – which coordinates the award of petroleum licenses, negotiates the terms of all hydrocarbon permits, monitors, regulates and facilitates upstream oil activities on behalf of the government – publicized the official announcement of the stalled licensing round suspended in September 2018 and follows on the footsteps of similar undertakings in 2003, 2004 and 2012. Last year’s suspension of the oil block’s auction was ostensibly to allow for wider consultations on how best to re-structure the bidding to ensure heightened interest of international explorers and independents.

“Following the conclusion of a six-month industry consultation that was designed to collate international industry feedback and ensure the success of this round, companies are now invited to re-engage with the Fourth Licensing Round,” Getech said in a statement.

“Working in partnership with the Petroleum Directorate of Sierra Leone, we are delighted to support the reopening of the Fourth Licensing Round,” added Jonathan Copus, Getech Group CEO in the Getech statement.

The previous three bids attracted mixed response with four blocks awarded in the first round of 2003 while only one block was awarded in 2004 followed by one more in 2006 that was allocated through direct negotiation in 2006.

However, during third round of 2012, eight blocks were awarded and a more robust response is expected this time round especially after PDSL said it has “collated international industry feedback to ensure the success of the bidding round.”

Sierra Leone is restarting the fourth licensing round at a time when PDSL has in stock four undeveloped offshore discoveries made between 2009 and 2013.

They include Venus-B1, Mercury-1, Jupiter-1 discovered by Anadarko in Block SL-07 and Savanaah-1 by Lukoil in Block SL-05/11 all of them in Sierra Leone waters that PDSL says “contain proven petroleum systems.”

Moreover, the PDSL has not clearly pointed out what has changed between September 2018 and now especially with the indictment from Africa Petroleum, which relinquished its interests in licenses SL-03-17 and SL-4A-17 in November of last year in what the company said was a result of the decision not to commit to an ultra-deep water drilling program.”

But more telling was Africa Petroleum confession that even after months of discussion with PDSL, “the parties failed to agree an extension to the licences on suitable terms.”

In this week’s statement by Getech Group, PDSL is said to have committed to “re-engage” with potential explorers during the fourth licensing round after “putting in place a robust but flexible licensing framework that will assist investors in their evaluation of the significant potential of the Sierra Leone margin.”

The optimism by Sierra Leone is despite the observation by Africa Petroleum that the “industry appetite does not currently exist for ultra-deepwater exploration in this part of the African margin.”

Africa Petroleum’s view is shared by Olu Adeosun, Director, PwC Advisory, Strategy Consulting, in an interview with Offshore Engineer when he said “offshore projects are particularly highly capital intensive, investors have been particularly unwilling to cover unnecessary risks posed by poorly-regulated sector.”

However, PDSL says the country’s offshore waters is now “fully for petroleum licensing” and that this time around a more flexible Block framework will be used as a basis for licensing. Nearly 20 concessions are open in Sierra Leone according to PDSL.

For potential bidders eyeing offshore prospects with 50% of such an acreage found deeper than 2,500 meters, PDSL has launched a direct tender license application process while all other bids will be under open tender.

In addition, potential bidders can now access the previously set up data rooms in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, London and Houston to view the available 2D and 3D seismic data and all about the eight previously drilled wells.

 

 

Sierra Leone News: Ex-Agric. Minister to Account for Le3B

Prof. Monty Jones

At the Commissions of Inquiry, interesting revelations keep coming out that are mind boggling.

At Commission 64 presided by Justice Biobele Georgewill, an earlier statement made by Commission Witness Thomas Jonjo Senior Accountant at the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources that some proceeds from mining activities in the country were invested in Treasury Bearer Bonds between 2012 to 2016, was debunked by Permanent Secretary Mrs. Fatmata Mustapha who denied knowledge of such investment.

Led in evidence by State Counsel Mrs. Khadija Zainab Bangura, the Senior Accountant Mr. Thomas Jonjo disclosed that some remittances were made into some MMR accounts that were interests from Treasury Bearer Bonds that they had invested in. The MMR he disclosed has several accounts that it manages like the Diamond Area Community Development Fund or DACDF, the Rehabilitation Account, the Rutile Account and Agriculture Account. He disclosed that at some point the sum of Le 105,000,000 (one hundred and five million Leones) was paid as interest from Treasury Bearer Bonds into the Rehabilitation Account. Also, he revealed that on 17th December 2012 Le 12, 750, 000 (twelve million seven hundred and fifty thousand Leones) was paid as interest from Treasury Bearer Bond; 7th January 2014, the sum of Le 300,000,000 (three hundred million Leones) was also paid as interest to the Rehabilitation Account of the MMR. On the 8th January 2018, just a day after Le 300m was paid as TBB mature interest, the same money was paid as bid amount on TBB.

Asked by the sole Commissioner Justice Biobele Georgewill who authorizes such investments, he replied that it was the Permanent Secretary. When the Permanent Secretary eventually entered the witness box, she denied knowledge of any investment in TBB using funds from any mining proceeds. Mrs. Fatmata Mustapha denied ever authorizing investment of mining proceeds on Treasury Bearer Bonds. The commissioner then asked for the witness to be re-summoned to clarify the issue of investment of TBB.

Other disclosure made at the Commission is that the Rehabilitation Account which the Senior Accountant had earlier said they don’t touch was heavily withdrawn from, as records showed later. Also, top up allowances for senior geologists and engineers was a loan request made by the NMA to the MMR and that funds from DACDF account were used for such purpose as indicated, but that the loan was to be repaid later by the NMA, which no record proved they did.

The DACDF account had as much as Le 32, 032,534,101.20 (thirty two billion, and thirty two million, five hundred and thirty four thousand, one hundred and one Leone, twenty cents), but withdrawals from it amounted to Le 18, 212, 036, 007.47 (eighteen billion, two hundred and two million, and thirty six thousand and seven Leones, forty seven cents).

Of the said withdrawal from the DACDF account the sum of Le 11, 499,110,000 (eleven billion, four hundred and ninety-nine million, one hundred and ten thousand Leones) was paid as community development funds from the sale of the 709 carat diamond that was discovered in Kono in 2017.

The Senior Accountant said the payments for development of communities as intended by the creation of the DACDF account is made directly to the communities, and that they monitor the development projects in the communities. Justice Biobele Georgewill has promised to visit the areas especially Koryadu where the 709 carat diamond was found to verify the judicious use of the funds disbursed for community development.

In her testimony, the former Permanent Secretary in the MMR expounded on the different accounts in the ministry and how they are funded. Mrs. Fatmata Mustapha who now serves as PS in the MAF said the Rehabilitation Account draws funds from the import and export licenses for gold and diamond, whilst the DACDF sources its funds from artisanal mining licenses issued by the NMA, adding that the percentage from the fees is worked out by the NMA and paid into the said account which the MMR supervises.

On the Rutile Account, she said its funds are drawn mostly from the company after consultations with the community and agreeing on what to pay to them through the MMR.

At Commission 65 chaired by Justice Bankole Thompson, State Prosecutor Lawyer R.B. Kowa delved into the Direct Cash Transfer project which was initiated by the former Minister of Agriculture Professor Monty Jones between 2015 to 2018.

The Direct Cash Transfer scheme was intended to boost agricultural activities by paying monies directly to farmers but was fraught by many problems that left room for doubt and possible corruption.

State Witness Mr. Henry Kargbo who is the Director of Crops in the MAF was led in evidence by Lawyer Kowa who explained how the anomalies in the scheme left room for malpractices. It was alleged by the State Prosecutor that although the sum of Le 3,000,000,000 (three billion Leones) was approved by the Ministry of Finance for the Direct Cash Transfer scheme, the former Minister of Agriculture Prof. Monty Jones and team ended up expending Le 3,225,000,000 (three billion two hundred and twenty five thousand Leones), which is in excess of what was approved by the finance ministry. It was revealed that the finance ministry approved an initial Le1,500,000,000 (one billion five hundred million) but the MAF’s officials ostensibly acting on the instructions of the former minister withdrew another Le 1,755,000,000 (one billion seven hundred and fifty five million Leones). The said amount was withdrawn from the Forestry Development Account, without approval from the finance ministry.

Also exposed by the State Counsel Lawyer Kowa was that the former agriculture minister Prof. Monty Jones was given blank cheques to go to the field and pay cash directly to the farmers, but that he never gave account of the monies he expended. It was also disclosed that these direct cash transfers to farmers was never properly monitored and evaluated but huge sums of money were pumped into it.

The counsel for the defense Lawyer Lansana Dumbuya will cross examine the witness at the next adjourned date which is Monday May 27.