Exclusive Cocorioko Interview
Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma has called on all Sierra Leoneans to wait for the law to take its course in the matter of the recently-released audit report on the alleged misappropriation of the ebola funds by some officials.
The President was speaking to COCORIOKO ‘s Publsher , Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, during an exclusive interview this afternoon.
President Koroma, who was calm and assured, said that his government empowered the Sierra Leone Audit Department to carry out the functions it is undergoing presently by conducting audits on the disbursement of funds within the arms of government, because he believes that any government worth its salt must be transparent and accountable.
PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA
President Koroma indicated that when he came to power in 2007, the Auditor-General’s Office was toothless and lacked clout.It was also the case with the Anti-Corruption Commission ( ACC) , which he empowered in keeping with his zero tolerance policy to corruption. . He decided to empower the Auditor-General’s Office and give it the clout it is exercising today because he wants every penny spent in government to be accounted for. He wants his government to be transparent. The President said that in consonances with his threats that ebola rogues will face the full force of the law, his government empowered the Auditor-General’s Office to audit the Ebola funds . Now that the Auditor-General ‘s Office had conducted the audit , the next step is to send it to Parliament, which has been done.
President Koroma said that his administration is a government of law. Parliament will debate on the findings of the Audit Department and all the persons and institutions named will have the opportunity to defend themselves and after Parliament comes out with its own findings the law will take its full course. The Government will come in and those found culpable will be charged.
Asked why the matter was not sent directly to the Solicitor-General’s office as suggested by some Sierra Leoneans in the social media, President Koroma said that it was the law that the report be sent to Parliament.The people elected their parliamentary representatives and trust in them. He assured every Sierra Leonean that neither he nor his government will interfere with Parliament’s work.” If we were not going to give Parliament the authority it requires to get to the bottom of the case, we would not have empowered the Auditor-General to conduct the audit in the first place ” , President Koroma emphasized.
Asked why he did not come out with a strong statement after the release of the report as some Sierra Leoneans are enquiring in the social media, President Koroma said it was the individuals and institutions named in the audit report who should make such a statement. He , as President , cannot do it now because first of all he might be construed as defending those accused and secondly, the government is following the full processes of the law. After Parliament would have released its findings, then he will be able to come in and make a statement , explaining Government’s position . But President Koroma told COCORIOKO that during the Chamber of Commerce /Government Post -Ebola Round table today in Freetown, he did say that those found guilty of tampering with Ebola funds will face the full force of the law.
President Koroma assured international stakeholders that his government had a firm grip of the ebola situation and thanked them for their continued support to the country.
Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu