Numerous Bad Procurement Deals, Is…

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NPPA Boss Colluding with Criminals

Numerous Bad Procurement Deals, Is…

NPPA Boss Colluding with Criminals

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The National Public Procurement Authority is one of the fundamental institutions established by the government of Sierra Leone to accelerate economic growth and ensure sustainable development for the country.

In addition to the financial funding of the government of Sierra Leone, the Integrated Public Financial Management Reform project (IPFMRP) a multi-donor project with funding from the European Commission, DFiD, World Bank and the African Development Bank has been very instrumental in providing financial support to the National Public Procurement Authority through the Public Financial Management Reform Unit (PFMRU) in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. 

The National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) was established under the Public Procurement Act of 2004 to perform oversight functions and advise the Government of Sierra Leone on Public Procurement management. Public procurement is a significant means through which the government of Sierra Leone meets its development needs through the provision of physical infrastructure and the supply of essential goods and services. Public Procurement is thus a significant national development tool, the effective management of which the national oversight body considers extremely important.

The Mission of the National Public Procurement Authority is to regulate and monitor public procurement in Sierra Leone and to advise Government on issues relating to public procurement.

However, the Executive Director of the institution, Mr. Brima Swarray is seemingly condoning corruption by way of allegedly colluding with account and procurement officials to engage in over pricing of goods and services that are meant for the effective functioning of the government.

It is clear that processes and procedures dictate the effective functioning of such a critical institution.

There are fiscal policy laws that are premised on ensuring that the state achieves value for money. In total disappointment to the conscience of the people, the NPPA is seemingly allegedly succumbing to the evil dictates of corruption that often see the misappropriation of public funds for private gains. Mr. Swarray’s credibility has taken a battering because he strenuously endeavoured to defend the seemingly indefensible. The price tags that normally inform the purchase of goods and services are thrown overboard in favour of a corrupt system that accommodates kick-backs.

To many independent observers, this is the cancer that is gradually stymying the progress of Sierra Leone.

According to reports the Executive Director often colludes with ill-motivated officials in Ministries, Departments and Agencies to syphon resources from the consolidated fund.    

Public procurement often refers to the purchase by governments and state-owned enterprises of goods, services and works, but in a rather dramatic fashion this intention is often diverted to sustain selfish interest.

As public procurement accounts for a substantial portion of the taxpayers’ money, governments are expected to carry it out efficiently and with high standards of conduct in order to ensure high quality of service delivery and safeguard the public interest but the action of the Brima Swarray in openly defending corrupt state official that have embezzled public funds at the parliamentary accountability hearings sounds shocking to many critical observers. Mr. Swarray in an alleged unrepentant attitude backs the looters of state coffers that provides unjustifiable accounts of overpricing of goods and services meant for effective running of governance.

The institution is widely renowned to sign various memorandums of understanding with the Anti -Corruption Commission but often when government officials are involved that are influential within the party, the issues are blatantly swept under the carpet. It is generally believed that the NPPA is the most crucial institution to strengthen transparency and accountability.

To show that the Chief Executive of NPPA is part of the New Direction system that is imposing tyrannical rule on the people, he was very elated when he was appointed as head of the institution.

“I feel highly elated and especially gratified to God and President Julius Maada Bio for making it possible for me to be part of the epoch-making moment in the history of the National Public Procurement Authority I want to particularly thank the President, His Excellency, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio for appointing me to this position. I also want to personally thank the outgoing Chief Executive, Mr. Brima Bangura for taking the National Public Procurement Authority to this level it has found itself.

“My appointment to this position did not come as a surprise. It is borne out of His Excellency’s belief that I can deliver as far as the field of procurement is concerned and take the profession to a higher height. I also see my appointment as an affirmation of the president’s obligation to bring power to the youths. My success here will be a success for the youthful population of this country. If I fail, may God forbid, I would have served as an impediment to the growth of the youth. I want to take this oath and assure you that success will be my watch word through and through”

“For procurement to be where it is positioned to be, the NPPA have to take the leading role as an institution, here are decisions we need to take to uplift the profession. Some of these decisions will not be pleasing to some entities but such decisions will be in the interest of the country as embedded in the New Direction.

“As a practicing Senior Procurement Officer over a decade now, I know where the challenges lie and with my appointment, I will ensure that these challenges are addressed. With my leadership, we will ensure a high level of transparency and accountability surrounding all procurement activities, and all driving towards the basis pillars of the New Direction,” he concluded.

Pres. Bio Guns for Reform in AU

 

President Julius Maada Bio has addressed the 34th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly on the efforts of the Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government, C10, which he chairs.

He called on the leadership of Africa to remain cohesive on all aspects of the UN reform process, continue to speak with one voice in unity of purpose, until the demands of the Common African Position as articulated in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration are achieved

While thanking C-10 members for the diverse ways they continued to support the work of the Committee in implementing their mandate to canvass, promote, and defend the Common African Position on UN Security Council reform, President Bio also provided an update on the 21st Report, adopted during the 33rd Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in February 2020.

“This past year has been challenging due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on lives and livelihoods. This has also affected the work of the Committee and the Intergovernmental Negotiations process in New York,” he noted, adding that that had also adversely affected the implementation of recommendations of the twenty-first report and its decision on the reform of the UNSC last year.

President Bio stated that the inter-governmental negotiations continued to be challenged by the very complicated nature of the various positions and proposals of the UN Member States, which were divergent in substance with inherent nuances, adding that there was also the issue of continual divergence on procedural matters related to the reform process.

“In such a complicated process, the road ahead may be long, rocky and hard, but we should persevere and stay focused on building on the gains made in canvassing, promoting, advancing and defending the Common African Position on United Nations Security Council Reform. Only that will eventually lead to achieving decisive progress in the not-too-distant future,” he said.

He closed by acknowledging and commending the inclusion of the issue of the reform of the UN Security Council in statements made by a number of African leaders during the 75th UNGA Annual debate of Heads of State and Government.

 

Lara Taylor-Peace Engages Media

By Mohamed Jalloh

The Sierra Leone Fellowship of Evangelical Students (SLEFES) an organisation whose mission is “to reach students for Christ to impact our nation” has intimated the media about a public lecture slated to take place on 12th February 2021.

The theme of the public lecture is “integrity in the public square” that would be hosted at the Institute Of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) main building sixth floor.

Madam Lara Taylor-Pearce has been selected by SLEFES among thousands of public servants to dilate on the theme of the public lecture as the keynote speaker for her uncompromising stance against graft in the country.

T.S Joseph, Training Secretary of SLEFES underscored the importance of the public lecture to the academic community, which he considers as the right platform to inculcating the culture of integrity on a generation that would render their labour services in the public sphere in the immediate future.

Mr. Joseph noted that even though the focus of the public lecture is on integrity management, other important topics would also be featured such as Leadership Development, Career Development and Mentorship as according to him the aim is on knowledge transfer from one generation to another.

Mr. G.S Williams the General Secretary of SLEFES said it is of paramount importance to engage young people at the university on the need to upholding high standards of integrity in their daily engagements and further maintained that such values would be part of students whenever they had the opportunity of serving their country in the public sphere.

Mr. Williams sated that SLEFES owes it to students who are the human resource of the nation and are crucial in efficient service delivery whenever they are employed to serve the country as civil/public servants.

The General Secretary said students are the leaders of today and they have the mind-set that could serve as a catalyst for change in Sierra Leone and further singled out the Auditor General Madam Lara Taylor-Pearce as a personality whose integrity is worth emulating by students for her unwavering Anti-corruption stance.

Mr. Williams urged students from tertiary institutions across the country and all well-meaning Sierra Leones to attend the public lecture as the knowledge they would acquire would be useful in upholding integrity for the rest of their life long careers.

Journalists Warned about Reporting Khadija Murder Trial

By Feima Sesay

Abu Bakarr Saccoh father to 5 years old Khadija Madinatu Saccoh who was allegedly killed, has on Monday 8th ebruary 2021 testified before Justice Don Bosco Alieu of the High Court of Sierra Leone.

Before his testimony, 12 Jurors from different Ministries Departments and Agencies across the country were empaneled by the clerk of the court.

State Prosecutor, Lawyer Joseph A.K Sesay informed the jurors that the accused Mariama Sajor Barrie and Ibrahim Bah are both charged with conspiracy and murder, while explaining further that conspiracy in law is an agreement between two or more people to do an unlawful act by unlawful means.

He said to prove the offence of conspiracy, the prosecution must prove that the accused persons were in agreement at some point and that; each must do something in furtherance of the agreement.

He further noted that murder in law is when a normal person unlawfully does something to another person intentionally to kill that person and that the person dies as a result of that injury within one day to one year.

He went on to explain that it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt and that if they fail, “you Jurors must return a verdict of not guilty but at the end of the trial if you are sure that what we alleged is true then you must return a verdict of guilty.”

Khadija Madinatu Saccoh was allegedly killed on 17 June 2020.

Justice Don Bosco Alieu while addressing the court urged the Jurors not to go out of the evidence in court at the conclusion of the trial but to go according to the evidence led in court.

He stated that the court is not a court of sympathy but a court of law and further urged them to keep an open mind and side with no one but the truth.

Justice Alieu Don Bosco added that if there is any doubt in the evidence, they should not hesitate to return a verdict of not guilty in favour of the accused persons. He assured the court and the jurors of a transparent trial, but warned the jurors not to bow to any powerful element in the society.

The learned Judge also cautioned both lawyers not to go to his office during the course of the trial and equally warned journalists to report the proceedings correctly.

Abu Bakarr  Sankoh in his testimony said he knows first accused  Mariama Barrie as the sister to her ex-wife Binta Barrie and also second accused who happens to be first accused son and that he  is working for a communication company in USA as Manager.

He said on the 17th June 2020, he was at home in the USA when he received a telephone called from  his aunty Isatu Jabbie Kabbah that the deceased was sick and they have taking her to the hospital but 10 minute later, he received  a call from her again that his daughter is death.

” I told my Aunty that further investigation need to be done in order to determine her cause of death but they refuse on the grounds of religious reason, so I instructed my friend Emmanuel resident in Sierra Leone to file in a police report that my daughter`s death was suspicious which he did”, the witness said.

He also confirm to the court that prior to the death of Khadija, at the time he left Sierra Leone, the deceased was staying with her mother at Smart Farm but she the mother later called him that the deceased had started having nightmare at their premises so I instruct her that they should move to my Aunty which she did.

The witness furthered that before he demises I spoke to her and I later learnt that Binta Barrie had travel to America and left the deceased in care of the first accused Mariama Sajor Barrie.

During Cross Examination of the witness by defense counsel lawyer Alhaji  Kamara said since the time Khadija was staying with first accused, he never went there.

Ambassador Koroma Inspires U-17

 

Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Senegal Alhaji Brima Elvis Koroma has inspired the Sierra Leone U17 team after their elimination from the West Africa Football Union (WAFU) Zone A U17 AFCON Qualifiers hosted in Dakar, Senegal.

The U17 were defeated 5:0 in their second encounter by Mali on Sunday 7th February, 2021 at Stade lart Dior de Thies.  The team also lost by 1:0 in their first encounter with Guinea Bissau on Friday 5th February, 2021 leading to their elimination.

Inspiring the lads after their defeat, His Excellency Alhaji Brima Elvis Koroma encouraged them not to be demotivated but to be courageous during defeats. He told them that the best footballers have missed penalty kicks as well as best teams have been defeated and eliminated from competitions.

He called on the technical team to improve on their coaching techniques and called on the lads to give their best during trainings and matches.

The Sierra Leone Football Association General Secretary, Chris Kamara who earlier welcomed the Ambassador thanked him for the support and also for inspiring the team.

Robert Sow, a Senegalese FA Official who is the liaison for the Sierra Leone Under 17 squad spoke that Ambassador Koroma was the only Ambassador who was always present to support and motivate the National team whenever they play and you should be motivated by that” he said.

Six nations- Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, and Sierra Leone within West Africa Zone A were drawn to partake in the tournament. Sierra Leone was drawn in group B alongside Guinea-Bissau and Mali.

Bacterium Killing Chimpanzees in S/Leone

An international team of researchers has found what they believe to be the pathogen that has been killing chimpanzees at a Sierra Leone sanctuary for approximately 15 years. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group describes their study of multiple samples of chimp tissue retrieved from some of the dead chimps and what they have found thus far.

Approximately 15 years ago, workers at Sierra Leone’s Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary began to see chimps in their sanctuary become ill from a new and mysterious ailment—alarmingly, every chimp that became ill died. In the beginning, the team thought that they had more than one pathogen on their hands because, for some chimps, the main symptoms were gastrointestinal stress while, for others, symptoms were clearly neurological. Over time, the team became convinced it was a single pathogen as they saw increasing numbers of chimps with both types of symptoms.

In 2018, one of the researchers on this new effort, Leah Owens, spotted a bacterium in the brain of one of the chimp victims that stood out because of its cubic structure. Testing of the bacterium found it to be a unique species, which they named Sarcina troglodytae. After finding the bacteria in other dead chimps but never in those that were not infected, the researchers focused more closely on it. They found that it resembled Sarcina ventriculi, a strain that infects humans, generally resulting in gastrointestinal stress.

Much more work still needs to be done, however, to prove that S. troglodytae is behind the deaths at the chimp sanctuary. Prior research has shown that chimps living there are most likely to become ill with the new disease in March. Also, no one knows where the bacteria might have developed or if it can infect humans. Some prior research has also suggested that the bacteria’s spores might be common in the sanctuary. Others studying the disease have noted that there is the possibility that some unique factor of chimp biology could be playing a role in the progression of the disease.

As the research continues, the team at the sanctuary are assuming that the newly discovered bacterium is to blame and are treating the chimps who fall ill in ways designed to fight off bacterial infections.

Much Commendation for Tribal Heads

 The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has received a comprehensive data that comprised full details of all section chiefs from the Council of Western Area Tribal Heads (CWATH) at its Youyi Building office in Freetown.

Addressing the tribal heads, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Tamba John Sylvanus Lamina, said his Ministry has always strived to maintain a cordial relationship with Tribal Heads by way of giving them its unwavering support. He said the Ministry views them as important entity and a medium through which it would reach to the different tribes in the Western Area. 

Minister Lamina told the tribal heads that the Ministry of Local Government has a broader constitutional mandate, which was why he had earlier requested for a comprehensive data for all sub chiefs in the Western Area which will enable his Ministry to be in the capacity to know who is responsible for which locality.

He recalled that there had been situations where two section chiefs have claimed supremacy over one locality, and that it had led to conflicts in the locality with the tendency of undermining the peace and stability of the country.

“We also requested for this data in order to bring sanity and transparency in the process, so we want to know the process you follow in selecting sub-chiefs and how they are relieved off their duties because these are possible stages where conflict arise in most communities,” he said.

The Minister reiterated the government’s commitment to making sure that chieftaincy in Sierra Leone has the dignity and respect it deserves, which he explained is the reason government has included them on the payroll.

He appealed for the tribal heads to see reasons to support the Government agenda in the Free Quality Education by reporting those that undermine same to the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) responsible.

The Minister pointed out that his ministry’s expectation of the Tribal Heads is to help maintain peace and stability in their localities, but to also cascade Government’s policies to their respective tribes.

He reiterated that key among the visions of President Bio is development and stability, adding that the New Direction Government will never forget in a hurry the role that CWATD played during the era of the Commission of Inquiry (COI).

“I am delighted to tell you that as a Government, we still have in mind the patriotic role that you played during the proceedings of the COI. You held several meetings with your tribes’ men and explained to them the extent to which the commission was free from witch-hunt and politics. You even went further to tell them that the COI was all about accountability. This is why our Government considers you as development partners thereby holding you in high esteem,” he said.

In his response, the Kono tribal head for the Western Area, who doubles as the Vice Chairman of CWATH, Chief S.O. Gbekeh, stated that the reason his members delayed to present the data of their sub-chiefs was because they had wanted to do due diligence to same by providing all information needed by the Ministry.

He assured the Minister of their unflinching cooperation, stating that what the President Bio led Government has done for them has surpassed all efforts done by past governments.

“It is pleasing to say that as a chief, I can now boast of taking care of my family at the end of every month with the salary I receive from the Government. Over the years, we pleaded with other Governments to see reason to be given us at least Le 500,000 as salary, but our requests fell on deaf ears. It is only your New Direction Government that has considered our requests, which is why we would always assure you of our support in selling your agenda to our tribes’ men in our communities”, he said. 

Chief Gbekeh pleaded with the Ministry to find ways of fostering a working relationship with paramount chiefs and Tribal Heads in the Western Areas, adding that the former should see them as partners with triggering respect and not as rivals and that, in a country where peace and stability is the vision of the president, such action should be discouraged by the authorities.

He also appealed to the Government through the Minister to see the need for addressing their tenure of office in the new constitutional review, and for them to be also represented in the process.

In her statement, the Deputy Minister of MLGRD, Melrose Karminty, expressed the Ministry’s appreciation to the Tribal Heads for honoring the request of presenting data of their sub-chiefs within the Western Area. She said this will guide the Ministry in streamlining its job, adding that she considered it as “a show of commitment to supporting her ministry’s constitutional mandate.”

The Deputy Minister implored the chiefs to continue to trust in the vision of President Bio as his good work has already started yielding dividend, adding that notable amongst the many developmental signs were the Free Quality Education, salaries for chiefs, and 450 tractors which will help boost the agricultural sector in the country.

“The only advice that I will want you all to give to your tribes’ men at your various communities is for them to exercise patience with this Government because amidst this difficult and trying moment in the world, Sierra Leone is still making progress in terms of development. Currently, Sierra Leone is among the few countries in Africa that is recognized for its robust fight against corruption, and couple of weeks ago, we have passed the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Score card which has the likelihood of pumping about 44.4 million dollars in our country. This is why we have requested for this data which will be a road map for reaching your communities in case there is any issue that may have the tendency of disturbing the peace and stability of this nation”, she said.

In his brief address to the tribal heads, the Director of Local Government, Brima Newman Combey, noted with appreciation the drive by tribal heads in collating such sensitive data of sub- chiefs in the Western Area, adding that the data will serve as easy access to sub- chiefs that may be of interest to the Ministry.

“I would want to allay your fears that the ministry is not introducing this system to reduce your powers; it is instead trying to add sanity into the chieftaincy arena in the Western Area,” he said.

All this happened in the full view of the Permanent Secretary of the MLGRD,  Thomas B. Lansana and other staff members.

SLAJ @ 50: President Nasralla ‘Blow’ Mind

Below is the speech of SLAJ President, Ahmed Sahid Nasrallah, marking the 50th anniversary of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ):

Some 50 years ago brave men and women came together and found an association that will serve as a torch for not only a profession that is called journalism but for society at large.

At a time when the country had just introduced the one-party and critical voices were almost silenced and a law that was like an albatross on the neck of journalists had been introduced to silence a beautiful profession that comforts the afflicted, our SLAJ was born.

TRIBUTE TO THE FOUNDING FATHERS AND FALLEN HEROES

Mr Chairman, permit me to pay glowing tributes to our icons, ie our founding fathers and mothers some of whom are still around. These heroes and heroines deserve a special place in our association’s history book. They laid a foundation that generations that came after them found it easier to build upon. They weathered the storm when not many people had the courage to be counted; they sacrificed everything they had so that future generations of journalists will have the freedom to practice their profession.

We remember our colleagues who have passed on. Let’s please observe a minute of silence in memory of their contribution to the development of journalism in Sierra Leone.

Those founding members who are still alive, we appreciate and recognise you: Christo Johnson, Bernadette Cole, Daisy Bona and, Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo. We want to say thank you for bequeathing to us an association that is viewed as the ‘last man standing’ in a society that continues to demonstrate a lack of commitment to the general good.

Be rest assured that we shall also handover the baton to the next generation with pride just like you did to us.

                          

ACHIEVEMENTS:

The past 50 years have been characterised by vicissitudes and successes but the latter is what I will briefly focus on for now.

SLAJ has been able to maintain its independence and integrity. That is something worth celebrating. In a country where ugly politics has crept into all facets of society and organisations, SLAJ has remained a very solid organisation that has enjoyed the trust and confidence of its members as well as the public. As an association we have been able to capacitate our regional bodies, making them viable and semi-autonomous as they carry out their own planned activities. We have been able to attract more members; everyone wants to be part of SLAJ because they know it is a body that epitomises independence, is forward-looking, and is progressive. We are doing our launching in our own hall, the Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall. As you can see, it is a refurbished hall. This executive campaigned on the platform of giving the membership a befitting Secretariat and that’s exactly what we have done.

 WHAT WE HOPE TO SEE IN THE NEXT 50 YEARS.

I repeat if SLAJ were a man, no doubt at 50 he or she will have lofty plans for her children and grandchildren. The next decades are going to be challenging moments for the media landscape especially with the emergence of social media and the determination to avoid the ‘path dependence syndrome’, to quote Dr. Mohamed Gibril Sesay. We will not continue with ‘business as usual’.

SLAJ will position itself to fit into the next generation. Our next 50 years should see us better than we are today both in terms of membership, welfare issues, professionalism, patriotism, and self-reliance. The kind of SLAJ we want to see should be the concern of every member of this noble Association.       

                      

As an executive, we have drawn up a calendar of events that will run for the whole year, because this is a once in a lifetime event so we want to give it all the razzmatazz that it deserves.

We are going to host events throughout the country. Our regional executives will also be having activities at their district level.

We have invited foreign guests, one of them Professor Kari Kari from the MFWA in Ghana and he has consented to come to Sierra Leone and deliver a public lecture as part of the Golden Jubilee celebration if COVID-19 permits. If COVID does not permit we will still do it virtually.

We are also working hard to secure land and turn the sod for the construction of the Golden Jubilee SLAJ Headquarters.

Mr. Chairman, indeed today we begin the celebration of a turning point in our history.

In a few months from now, precisely June 5th, we will officially be celebrating 50 years of existence.

It is significant because it is also the year that we have started the journey towards free and professional media.

It is also significant as we are celebrating the death of the obnoxious Criminal Libel Law.

It would not be appropriate to say we have come of age, because that happened 29 years ago. But today we begin another journey to climb to the mountain of professionalism and economic prosperity for the media in Sierra Leone.

So it’s a journey.

Today, we are starting a new journey.

A journey that will now take us into the millennium.

As we begin that journey, it is but fitting that we celebrate the first half of the millennium.

There is an old African saying which goes … “the lizard which fell from the top of the Cotton tree said if no one will praise me, I will praise myself.” This is why when you see a lizard it is always shaking its head up and down.

Today, we will begin to celebrate the Dr. Sam Hollists and all those journalists after them who spent time in jail; locked up in cells with a single bucket containing human excreta, and having to inhale the disgusting smell throughout.

It’s a journey.

Today, we celebrate those journalists who got to experience the slaps of the Sierra Leone Police, which caused lightning to flash without any rain. The vicious kicks, the beatings with a gun butt, the solitary nights from police cells to prisons; from courtrooms to prisons again.

It’s a journey.

Today, we begin to celebrate freedom. Freedom from being called a criminal. Freedom from accusations of criminal libel without proof. Freedom from Defamation could not be defended.

It’s all a journey.

Like gold, we have been put through the fire. And like gold, we have to be polished for us to shine.

Today, we begin to celebrate the end of one journey and the beginning of another one.

Like the lizards, we must stop and celebrate. 50 years is a long time. We need to reflect from where we have come from to where we are now. This is a moment of sincere and honest introspection and a determination to leap into a brighter future.

Then we will begin the journey into the second half of the millennium.

A journey for which we commit ourselves towards establishing a Free and Professional Media.

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Minister, colleagues all, today we will unveil our calendar, of how we will begin to celebrate. We will do this the SLAJ way.

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