By Sam Pratt
According to a Press Release issued from State House on Friday 10th January 2020, the Labour Minister, Alpha Timbo and three other senior government officials have been relieved of their respective duties until further notice. This action by State House is in connection with investigations on-going in an alleged corruption case involving a rice donation from China.
President Julius Maada Bio’s office said in a terse statement that Labour Minister Alpha Timbo was suspected of “improper activities” relating to “a huge quantity of rice” donated by Beijing.
The four officials include the Minister of Labour and Social Security Alpha Timbo, formerly of the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Mrs. Emily Kadiatu Gogra, Deputy Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Charles Kamanda, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, and Ms. Mamusu Massaquoi, Director of Nutrition, Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education.
Yusuf Keketoma Sandi, a spokesman for President Bio, said that the Anti-Corruption Commission was investigating the matter.
“We have to ensure that we once again restore probity in governance in Sierra Leone,” he said. Timbo was not immediately available for comment.
However the removal of the Minister of Labour and Social Security who until recently was Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has given credence to President Julius Maada Bio’s New Direction government’s sincere commitment to the fight against corruption in the country. Many citizens see this action by State House that nobody is above the law in the government of the ‘Tok and Do’ President, whose strides have earned Sierra Leone the highest scores in the fight against corruption ever in the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) indicators in the sub region.
This event involving Minister Timbo, a high ranking SLPP/PAOPA strategist, presents Sierra Leoneans with assurance and indeed optimism that the Government’s determination transcends partisan politics.
Sierra Leone is one of the world’s poorest countries and is still recovering nearly two decades after the end of a civil war which claimed some 120,000 lives.
The diamond-rich former British colony is ranked 129 out of 180 in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perception Index.