It is a fact, and it is also obviously obvious that the mid-term unprecedented electronic census is highly controversial, and has been challenged right from its inception in 2020 to date. It would be foolhardy not to know that the Bio-SLPP led Government’s insistence on conducting a forceful census would affect Sierra Leone’s fragile economy. The World Bank’s latest position on the conduct of the ill-prepared midterm unprecedented electronic census is a serious indictment of the deceptive Statistician General and even the ineffective and inept Minister of Development and Economic Planning, as well as the chairman of the board of Statistics Council Sierra Leone, in misleading the nation into a huge wastage of our meagre resources for what would never be acceptable as a national policy or decision. The World Bank, in their wisdom, has taken a close look at the so-called midterm Census and has hearkened to the wise call of meaningful Sierra Leoneans who helped in exposing the grand scheme of the Bio-led Government’s plan to use the census primarily for gerrymandered purposes.
Sierra Leone does not need to continue to be in a limelight for the wrong reasons. The European Union report continues to haunt the economy, and the saga of the Auditor General’s report, as well as the indefinite suspension of the Auditor General and one of her deputies, raises many concerns! Sierra Leone is certainly at a political crossroads that requires steady headedness, to navigate through it peacefully and endeavor to maintain stability as much as it is possible. Sierra Leone needs calm and should avoid anything that would provoke unnecessary tension, especially amongst its citizens. Already, it is a known fact that the judiciary, one of the organs of government, which should have played its role in diffusing tensions in the country, has a dented image, and people have a negative perception of its ability to fairly dispense justice. This is the principal reason why the All People’s Congress (APC) Party and the Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP) have decided on a political action to stop the conduct of the said census instead of relying on legal action. Legal action would have been a primary option for the political parties to have taken to address the issue of the census, more so that there are a lot of legalities surrounding it. But the indictment of our judiciary by the European Union report, is not only damaging to the reputation of the governance structure, it would also affect the smooth running of the affairs of the state whereby people would resort to fending for themselves rather than relying on perceived failed structures. This is an anomaly!
The sudden premium the Bio-led Government has given to the conduct of the midterm electronic census is enough to make the lame and most politically naïve person to conclude that the real agenda for the conduct of the said census is for gerrymandering- This is now a known fact to the World Bank. To buttress this point, it is again obviously obvious and certainly certain that nothing was stated about any form of census in the main policy documents of the Bio-led SLPP Government. Both the 2018 SLPP Manifesto and the Government’s National Development Plan 2018-2023 did not mention any conduct of Census. As a matter of fact, the confusing, controversial, and misplaced idea of having a full-blown census has been claimed by the Statistician General-SL. The Statistician General claimed that it has been the initiative of Statistics-SL and they recommended to Government to conduct a full-blown census, and he said that he initiated the idea since 2018 when he took over as Statistician General. It is a fact that the bragging Professor was not working for Statistics-SL in 2015 when Sierra Leone conducted a clean bill of health and a successful as well as an accepted census. With a critical lens, it is easy to deduce that the braggart has suggested to Government to conduct a full-blown census to enrich his purse and his curriculum vitae (CV) to showcase that he conducted the first 100% digital (electronic) census in the whole of Africa! In another perspective, the boastful Professor is cognizant of his age and knows that he would have retired by 2025, the normal timing for the census. The Professor chose to champion the lobbying for a census in order to enrich his purse and CV, and he twinned it with the government’s lofty ambition to have a comparative advantage over its political opponents. This is how selfish and reckless a boastful Professor can be!
The rest of this article is about exposing the mean and greediness of a boastful, selfish, reckless, ineffective, and deceitful Professor. His desire to make a name for himself, regardless of the outcome, is extremely risky. The mean Professor does not care about Sierra Leone but only for himself; even when he knows that there is a potential for uproar that might resort to a crisis like it happened in the sister nation of Nigeria over a conflict that had to do with the census, Professor Mallam O Sankoh cares less. Sierra Leoneans must be mindful that the tension that has built around this census must be treated with care and patience to avoid unnecessary tension amidst other serious underlining concerns like the call for an ethnic audit! The census issue has a tendency to not only turn this country into a crisis, but if not handled properly, there is a possibility of having an international law suit that would be taken against some of the country’s international partners for aiding and abetting unconstitutionality in the country! For sure, there’s a school of thought that is keenly weighing the different opinions of taking international action against the aiders and abettors of the census unconstitutionality, but let us shelf it for now and address the local concerns.
Many Sierra Leoneans now associate the name Professor Mallam O Sankoh with the rebel leader, Foday Sankoh, of the country’s eleven-year civil war. Professor Mallam O Sankoh is also linked with the notorieties of selfishness, boastfulness, deceitfulness, ineffectiveness, ineptness and recklessness. He has twice wasted the country’s meagre resources by aborting his very deceptive confidence in his preparedness for a never to occur census. Definitely, this is going to be the third time he is faking his preparedness to conduct a census, but the World Bank has now exposed him. How could this man boast about himself without showcasing results? When did they post the so-called pilot census results on their website, as well as the cartographic mapping? Would the Government want to continue to conduct a census that would not be accepted and has been challenged by many more people, as well as risk its relationship with the World Bank? The European Union’s damning report on the current governance structure, whereby the judiciary, the police, among others, are already in a bad spotlight, and a sober government should treat this as an existential threat and therefore would not afford to discard the World Bank’s position. This Professor must be investigated.
If Mallam O Sankoh, the notorious Professor was in any way honest, he should have clearly explained how much of a percentage the Type 3 EAs really constitute of the entire census! Instead of telling the exact story, the Professor misled the gullible audience to think that the entire census results have structural errors, of which 60% are inaccessible. This was never the case. The fact is that the said error only affected about 3% of the entire census data for 2015. In other words, 60% of the structural errors were in the Type 3 ‘Enumeration Areas’ (EA), which constitute about only 5% of the entire census. The subsequent paragraphs are designed for the elucidation and further understanding of the issues surrounding the unnecessary full-blown census as propagated by the notorious Professor. The 3% error could have been easily addressed by matching up the mismatched data of the Type 3 EAs. Sierra Leone is divided into counting sites, or localities, for census purposes. These sites or localities for the purposes of the census in Sierra Leone are called Enumeration Areas (EA). In other words, EA are the areas assigned to the ‘enumerators’, i.e., the census staff/employees that go to the households to count people. Each enumerator is expected to cover a threshold of 80 to 120 households.
An Enumeration Area (EA) is 80 to 120 households, and EA is classified into 3 types. These are the Type 1 EA, Type 2 EA and Type 3 EA.
Type 1 Enumeration Areas (or Type 1 EAs) are localities in the provinces or rural areas. The provinces are divided into districts; and the districts are also divided into chiefdoms; and the chiefdoms are further divided into sections. Each section is then divided into a counting unit that is called “Enumeration Areas,” which are designed to cater to 80 to 120 households. Those areas in a section that do not meet the threshold of 80 households are treated separately in another counting scheme that we would discuss later on as a Type 3 EA. In other words, those areas in some sections that have a few households, like 5 or 10 or 28, etc., are set aside to be treated in the Type 3 EAs.
Type 2 EAs are those Enumeration Areas in bigger localities, towns, and cities in urban areas, including provincial towns (Lunsar, Mambolo, Segbwema, Daru, Makeni, Bo, Koindu, Foredugu, etc.) and the capital city, Freetown, and its environs. These areas have a larger and more concentrated span of households. The Type 2EAs like in the rural areas, cover sites or localities but not sections. For instance, Tengbeh Town may have many EAs, and some EAs in Tengbeh Town that do not get as many as 80 households may be joined to other localities that they are close to. To elaborate or illustrate this, for example, households in Tengbeh Town are counted within the set thresholds, and those that are close to Brookfields, which do not meet the set threshold, would be fused together with households in other nearby communities/localities (Brookfields or Red Pump) to meet the threshold of 80 to 120. Those households in Tengbeh Town, which are closer to Wilberforce, would be fused with households in Wilberforce to meet the threshold of 80 or a thereabout to make an EA.
The Type 3 EAs are the smallest group of counted households, which constitute less than 5% of the entire population. They are generally from rural areas and do not meet the threshold of 80 households or thereabouts. So, they are clustered together with other households of either the same section or other sections within the same chiefdoms. The challenge here is this: some of these localities have the same names within the same section, and some are joined with other localities in different sections within the same chiefdom. These are the challenged households that are difficult to determine their exact population in terms of their sections, but they are counted and their population is determined at least under their respective chiefdoms.
It would interest people to know that the information is based on the gender of the counted people and their exact section. It is WORTHY to know that all persons are counted in all the types of EAs totaling the population of Seven million and ninety-two thousand, one hundred and thirteen (7,092,113) people counted in the country. Before 2015, Statistics-SL was only able to give the breakdown of the population at chiefdom level in the rural areas. But in 2015, it was further broken down into most sections, with the exception of a few sections that have the Type 3 EAs. However, the population of each province is known, the population of each district is known, the population of each chiefdom is known and the population of most of the sections is known with just a few unknown. The challenge is a matter of mismatch, and this is compounded with the similarities of names. However, it could have been easily sorted by matching up the captured data, and it really doesn’t warrant another full-blown census. In fact, the figure of the mismatched data of the said 60% of the Type 3 EAs only constitutes about 3% of the entire population. The fact of the matter is that everyone was counted and it is just an issue of knowing the exact sections of 3% of the entire population. This is a problem that should have been addressed under the heading of LESSONS LEARNED in preparation for the next census in 2025. A full-blown census is another waste of resources.
In summary, Professor Mallam O Sankoh was economical with the facts he presented on radio 98.1 on Tuesday December 7, 2021. He was, in fact, deliberate in misleading his audience by not specifically attributing his said 60% error or mismatch to the Type 3 EAs. He again deliberately misled his audience in failing to show the per centum that constituted the Type 3 EAs in the census. Furthermore, Professor Mallam O Sankoh misled his audience on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, on Radio 98.1 by claiming that Statistics-SL had completed the pilot census. On Monday, December 6, 2021, Statistics-SL staff was in the Goderich environs doing some training on census counting exercise. By international standards, both the cartographic mapping and the pilot census should be published before the main census activity is done. At least a 3-month interval should be given between the pilot census results and the main census activity. This is so because the lessons learned from the pilot census have to be addressed before the census itself. Failing to recognize such an interval and also failing to publish the surveys (cartographic mapping and pilot census results) are themselves anomalies, thus compounding the anomalies to multiply anomalies, the midterm census is now dubbed THE ANOMALIES OF THE MIDTERM ELECTRONIC CENSUS!!!
In conclusion, it would be necessary to look into the meaning of one of the statutes pertaining census and which is the Statistics Act 2002, No. 13. In Section 10 subsection (2) paragraph (a) of the same (i.e., Section 10(2)(a)) reads: “Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), it shall be the responsibility of Statistics Sierra Leone to —
(a) supervise and manage a national population census to be conducted every ten years or at such shorter interval as may be determined by the President;”.
The drafters of this statute or law were very specific in the first limb whereby they mentioned a specific time of ten years for the conduct of census. In this case it becomes clear to assume that the drafters were relying on the principle of ‘ceteris paribus’ i.e. other conditions being the same, and where there is no serious situation or condition warranting serious number of unaccountable loss of lives; no serious situation that has led to a huge movement of unaccountable people in and out of the country; or where there is no evidence of an astronomical growth rate in terms of housing and property development; then, it is expected that censuses are held every ten years. However, the second limb of the aforementioned section states ‘or at such shorter interval as may be determined by the President.’ This limb caters for abnormal situations or conditions whereby a serious situation occurs in the country that has a tendency to alter the overall population growth figures. Situation such as a pandemic wherein many lives lost cannot be accounted for; or deadly outbreak of wars that significantly resulted to an untold loss of lives and properties; or disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis with major magnitude leading to a massive unaccountable loss of lives and properties. For these kinds of situations, it is justifiable to call for census before the ten years specified time. In Sierra Leone even though there is a Covid-19 pandemic, but we know how many people have died. Therefore, knowing what the law says, it becomes really difficult to fathom why a very small error in terms of the number of the entire population should warrant a full-blown census for a struggling economy! Moreover, with the reckless behaviour in which management of our meagre resources are handled are a cause for concern. The country’s central Bank Governor deceived the citizens with his reckless statements such as ‘wasting $ 68 million to bribe people for a failed policy!’ This recklessness has to be stopped and challenged! The senselessness of the anomalies is now beginning to show a pattern. On a recent radio program on Radio 98.1 on Thursday December 9, 2021, the Director of Communication of Statistics-SL made a startling revelation when he was commenting on the World Bank’s withdrawal from the census process. The said Director Samuel Sumana revealed that they (Statistics-SL) had a pre-knowledge that the World Bank would withdraw. To a critical mind, one would then be able to draw the nexus between the Bank Governor’s reckless statement and the potential financial gap needed by Statistics-SL to complete the conduct of the census whenever the World Bank pulls out. No wonder the Bank Governor was never publicly reprimanded by the ACC neither the president for his reckless statement and possible theft of the Country’s meagre resources. I am inclined to believe that the said money was not wasted in bribery, but it was a calculated ploy designed to avoid accountability in the Auditor General’s report! Such monies would then be used on issues anticipated as exposed by the Director of Communication of Statistics-SL. Salone wahala boku fos!!!
Humanity is littered with histories of Leaders who had their downfall because they allowed their inconsiderate wives to lord it over them.
Examples abound including Samson’s downfall due to Delilah’s entrapment; Queen Jezebel’s role in the downfall of her husband; King David’s unforgivable sin of murder and infidelity as a result of Uriah’s killing, just to take over Bathsheba; and in modern times, number of fickle-minded Leaders have had their downfall due to uncontrollable temptations, naggings, influences and coercions of their wives.
Former President Gbagbo of Ivory Coast is a typical example as it is an open secret that it was his wife who convinced him not to accept defeat in the presidential post when he lost as an incumbent to the then opposition Politician/Economist, now President Alhassan Quatara.
Eagle’s eye would hasten to state that the above do not intend to indicate that every woman is bad and wicked.
That is far away from the truth as instances abound of successful past and present male Presidents and or even Prime Ministers whose wives have been of major positive complimentary roles. Former President Bill Clinton of USA for example, has a very useful, credible, godly and respectable wife in the personality of Hilary Clinton (she is infact a woman of substance who in 2016 was a formidable presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in USA).
The bottomline is, while elected politicians can listen to the advices of their wives, they should never ever allow themselves to be dictated to when it comes to their functions on national governance.
Zooming on ‘Jammehism’- a doctrine that was perfected and executed by the Military Dictator/former Head of State of the Republic of the Gambia, self-styled Professor Dr. Yayah Jammeh, between 1994 and 2016, the state of Gambia was presided by a dictatorial regime which occasioned massive and macabre violation of human rights, arbitrary arrest and detentions of leading opposition politicians including the versatile Lawyer/politician Husseine Dabor; un-explained disappearances, killings of journalists and unleashing of police state.
That era of undemocratic project in that part of the West Coast of Africa was very nauseating and anathemic to good governance, respect for rule of law and tenets of democracy.
No wonder Yayah Jammeh was forced out of power when he attempted to resist the will of the electorate who voted him out of power in favour of President Adama Barrow.
Hence, Eagle’s eye is of the opinion that any elected President in African who mean well for his/her people should be wary of Jammehism.
Infact it should not be considered, let alone adopted and executed as a political experimentation.
Coming to Sierra Leone, the wife of President Julius Maada Bio is a Gambian. Research indicates Fatima Bio is a strong disciple of former President Yayah Jammeh and this could be discerned in her characteristic mannerism.
Records abound of Fatima Bio threatening citizens that ‘mob justice’ can be unleashed in this 21st century of Sierra Leone’s nascent democracy; swearing perceived critics of Bio’s government; using vulgar, indecent and even insensitive remarks on Sierra Leoneans; blatantly and illegally performing state and party duties which are not consistent with 1991 constitution, etc, etc.
Eagle’s eye will like to remind readers of the saying which goes: “show me your friend, and I will tell you your character.” Also, another one goes: “a man is known by the company he keeps.”
And, Fatima Bio is the wife of Bio; and Fatima Bio is the First Lady of Sierra Leone; and Fatima Bio has traits of Jammehism; and Fatima Bio by the look of things has imported this distasteful, despicable and reprehensible doctrine of Jammehism into the political and national modus operandi of President Bio’s administration.
Eagle’s eye needs not point out to readers examples of Jammehism in Bio’s actions and activities couched in undemocratic nature across the nooks and crannies of Sierra Leone.
Thus, it is no altruism but tangible fact that a Leader stands to be destroyed by the snares of an overbearing, power drunk and vain glory wife.
Sierra Leoneans believe in democracy and not coercism.
In short, Jammehism has become a major undoing of Bio!
We Yone View
We Yone is worried over the fact that, number of SLPP propagandists who have in the wake of this botched, illegal, untimely and unprecedented mid-term census being fanning the embers of genocide.
We Yone is shocked these known SLPP fanatics and ‘war-mongers’ have been threatening residents in the South-East, who are not members of the dominant tribe in that part of the country, that if they fail to get themselves counted, they will be attacked- simply killed and properties destroyed!
We Yone is alarmed that propagandists of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party President Bio-led government should in this age of democracy, freedoms and rule of law, have the audacity, effrontery and unconsidered alacrity to utter such incendiary statements.
We Yone believes citizens are not oblivious that it was a set of tribal ‘Journalists’ or propagandists who incited tribal bigotry and pogrom in Rwanda over a radio station few decades ago.
We Yone would like to point out to these SLPP miscreants that when a law is bad, immoral and counterproductive, citizens of a nation have the right to challenge them.
We Yone cites leading civil Rights Activists notably Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who challenged racial discrimination in USA; William Wilberforce who challenged slavery in England; Jomo Kenyatta who challenged the ills of colonialism in Kenya; Comrade Nelson Madiba Mandela who challenged apartheid in South Africa and in Sierra Leone, citizens collectively resisted military rule in favour of democracy in 1995/1996.
We Yone is also of the opinion that these propagandists are pretending to be ignorant of cries and protests from many quarters and large chunk of the population that have opposed and rejected the so-called mid-term census on solid grounds.
And, since Sierra Leone is a country of laws and freedoms, no authority has the right to silence people who feel aggrieved from expressing their views or take legal and peaceful actions in demonstrating their annoyance.
We Yone is therefore calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to immediately intervene in Sierra Leone and take action against inciters of genocide.
We Yone View
We Yone believes that, “a spade is a spade”.
As a party, the issue of Kono as the swing district of elections in Sierra Leone keeps coming into the fore of the party since 2015 to date.
We Yone would refrain from apportioning blame or even calling names for the current unfavorable situation APC finds itself in Kono.
We Yone is au-fait with the political giants in the district and it has come out clearly that Kono is patriarchal community where majority of residents are much more inclined to follow male politicians than female ones.
We Yone would like to cite the last Ward 091 local council bye-election in which the APC candidate performed miserably for obvious reasons.
We Yone attribute this defeat as a result of the fight of egoism and bigotry between and among APC stalwarts in the district, which to all intents and purposes, are not consistent with the ideals of APC.
We Yone would like to repeat that Kono is a patriarchal community with many secret societies whose adherents are not inclined to follow female politicians regardless of assumed bravado.
We Yone is urgently appealing to the hierarchy of the party to do a re-think on Kono issue, ensure strategic thinking takes dominance over sentimental and parochial thinking to ensure notable political giants from Kono are brought into the fold of the party.
This is the desire of the rank and file so as for APC to take back Kono and give victory to the party.
The point is, a presidential candidate requires 55% of valid presidential votes to constitutionally win the election on first round.
We Yone calls for unity and common sense approach.
We Yone conclude by stressing that addressing Kono dynamics urgently and dispassionately is crucial for APC’s victory in 2023.
In Sierra Leone, hearts are ablaze and imaginations are running wild over the ‘illegal suspension’ of the Auditor General of Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL), Lara Taylor-Pearce and her immediate under-link, Mr. Tamba Momoh in just weeks leading to the release of the 2020 audit report.
The social media is awash with insinuations that President Maada Bio always wanted to fire Lara and was looking for the right opportunity to act.
Others believe that State House is worried about yet another “hard-hitting” annual audit report from Lara.
But according to a letter from the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice signed by the deputy minister, Umaru Napoleon Koroma and addressed to the Hon, Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards on 8th November, 2021, Lara is accused of “alleged misconduct or lack of professional performance” in the exercise of her mandate as Auditor General.
In the aftermath, intense constitutional and legal debates have ensued amongst politicians, political pundits, non-state actors, high-profile legal luminaries and the media mostly calling for a review of the president’s decision against Lara in this small West African nation with a bitter history of coup d’états and savage internecine conflicts since Independence in 1961.
Lara’s unprecedented suspension by President Maada Bio according to many observers has awakened bad memories of unabated breaches of the 1991 Constitution and the attendant constitutional crises and political tensions that are undermining elections, good governance and democracy since Maada Bio rose at the helm of affairs in this country following a controversial presidential election victory in 2018.
The ‘Afrobarometer’ wrote in favour of Lara that, “As the government’s chief external auditor since 2011, she has won praise for helping change Sierra Leone’s public-sector accountability landscape…” The statement in part further reads that “Among other honours, she received the 2015 National Integrity Award from the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission.”
Umaru Fofana, the BBC stringer in Sierra Leone describes Lara as “The highly-respected career auditor who has headed the institution for 10 years…,” on his Facebook page. “Mrs Taylor-Pearce told me that she had not been told what the remit of the tribunal was or what wrongdoing she and one of her deputies (also suspended) had committed.
She has been consistent in releasing hard-hitting audit reports about the handling of state resources by the former and present governments,” Umaru continued.
Lara may have been denied the right by her accusers to know the reason for her suspension, but the haste to suspend her has spurred a major concern amongst Sierra Leoneans that the president might have breached the constitutional provision to suspend/remove an auditor general.
The argument is that a tribunal should have been setup before the issuance of the suspension letter and that the procedure through the judiciary has been considered to be ‘flawed’.
Basita Michael, who is a member of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) before her resignation few days ago, and who also served as a former President of the Sierra Leone’s Bar Association has resigned from the JLSC, citing reason of unacceptable manner in which President Bio appointed a Judicial Tribunal to investigate alleged wrongdoing by Auditor General Lara Taylor-Pearce.
In a legal opinion titled; “My Thoughts on the Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce Saga” by a well-known politician and renown lawyer of over forty-year experience in the profession, Hon. Charles Francis Margai raised not only a constitutional glitch in the process over the suspension of the Auditor General, but he also alluded that the president may attract an impeachment process for misconduct when Lawyer Margai called the attention of the less legally inclined public to “Section 51 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991 – titled misconduct by president”.
In conclusion, Charles Margai pondered the question of “Are there attendant consequences when a president breaches provisions of the Constitution?” The legal luminary henceforth lured the minds of attentive Sierra Leoneans to Section 51 Act No.6 of 1991 Constitution.
And here is what the foregoing Section of the Constitution states in that regard; “If notice in writing is given to the Speaker signed by not less than one-half of all the Members of Parliament of a motion alleging that the President has committed any violation of the Constitution or any gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office and specifying the particulars of the allegations and proposing that a tribunal be appointed under this section to investigate those allegations, the Speaker shall…”
Indeed, concerned civil societies, rights advocates and the media have heaped serious condemnation and criticism on Maada Bio’s government and its judiciary for imprudence in their actions that have provoked yet another constitutional crisis and a possible butt of a toxic political atmosphere.
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has registered its concern “about the issues of transparency an accountability in the use of public funds by government and its agencies”. The Institute of Governance Reform (IGR) states that the institute is appalled by “the move given the reputation the Auditor General has built over the years particularly coming just weeks before the release of the annual audit report.” 50/50 is a feminist organization that has expressed suspicion of a foul play against powerful women in governance in a press statement in response to the Lara saga. The Standard Times newspaper republished a letter president Maada Bio wrote in 2015 in praise of Lara Taylor-Pearce for auditing the Ebola funds.
Political parties, either separately and or in a union they called a Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (CoPPP) made up of thirteen out of seventeen registered political parties have been highlighting similar concerns over constitutional breaches by Maada Bio’s government in the past to no avail. They have now seized the opportunity to showcase a proof that their concerns, all these years, were valid.
They are now up in arms with the government over the “illegal suspension” of Lara. Hon. Kandeh Yumkella, leader of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) in Parliament tweeted in part that “It is another nail in the coffin of accountability and democracy.” This is because Lara, according to international and local opinion leaders and observers, carries an unblemished character and an indefatigable passion for carrying out her mandate in accordance with international best practice as well as her well-known consistency for publishing fearless and without favour annual audit reports.
In all of these, lawyer Francis Gabbidon, former ombudsman and long-standing lawyer sees no problem with the right of the president to hire and fire. Nonetheless, many other prominent lawyers retorted that “The issue is about the blatant violation of the Constitution and the flawed process of suspending/removal of the Auditor General and not about questioning the Executive Power of the president.”
Well, Lawyer Garbidon is not the proverbial ‘new kid on the block’ when it comes to instigating controversies – this was the same lawyer who interjected the infamous ‘two sims’ (dual citizenship) issue into the political discourse in the run-up to 2018 parliamentary elections that led to the disenfranchisement of many active diaspora politicians.
And the defunct All Political Parties Association (APPA) is observed to be unusually silent on this matter this time around differently from their unguided support for government in the past for all the wrong reasons, one political commentator observed.
And in this fight to defend her integrity, dignity and good name, Lara is indeed living up to the challenges consistent with the great religious doctrine that “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches”. Indeed, her name Pearce is a good surname “derives etymologically from the Germanic word to pierce, and was a name commonly given to warrior caste”.
Maada Bio has been a good mask man with his quiver full of arrows before, but now confounded by the challenges to pierce Pearce especially in the face of a ‘disgrunt’ grassroots who are poised to stand with the defender of their economy against corrupt politicians amidst the rising prices of food stuff, and they don’t give a damn about the legal intricacies in the discourse.
If anyone says that the press release of the Council of Churches is weak and designed to exonerate the Council from any blame for being silent over such a sensitive issue, I’ll say to that particular person that he/she doesn’t even understands the content of the press release.
The Council of Churches press release is a case of hypocrisy and sycophancy!
The second paragraph of that press release is very misleading and is far apart from the spirit of the Constitution it has purported to support.
The 1991 Constitution reads in Section 137(6): “Where the question of removing a judge of the Superior Court of Judicature (in this case the Auditor General) from office has been referred to a tribunal under subsection (5), the President may suspend the judge from performing the functions of his office, and any such suspension may at any time be revoked by the President, and shall in any case cease to have effect if the tribunal recommends to the President that the Judge shall not be removed from office.”
Having read the Constitution, I’ll bluntly stand my ground to disagree with the position of the Council of Churches as very misleading because no reasonable person who is not partisan would say that an appointment of a tribunal without first reinstating the Auditor General and her deputy is in line with the Constitution.
No, it isn’t.
The said question of suspension has to be first referred to the Tribunal before any suspension takes effect, but the reverse is what the Government has done or it’s now doing!
This is another abuse of presidential power and the press release of the Council of Churches is shying away from the fact and to tell the truth to the Government and asked the Government to first reverse its suspension before the tribunal set to work.
Basita’s resignation has also exposed the ineffectiveness of the JLSC which appointed a tribunal without explaining to the tribunal the alleged accusations it is going to try/address.
This is unfairness and exhibits a case of ploy.
The secrecy that has surrounded the alleged accusations and the function(s) of this special tribunal has sparked a lot of suspicions and controversies that are not good for our fragile democracy.
So if the Council of Churches which is expected to be a serious stakeholder in maintaining peace in the country cannot be bold enough to say the truth, then people should understand why such institutions would not be treated with the respect they purport to command at some given time and situation they’ll want to be hearken to.
I repeat to those who say that the Council of Churches press release weakly condemns the Government, NO, it didn’t at all condemn the Government!
Rather, the press release plays in line with the Government to pacify the anger of the people about the unprecedented suspension, whilst the Government is executing its plan and at the same time silent the critics of this constitutional abuse of power by the President.
The second paragraph didn’t condemn government anywhere in that press release.
Instead they are deliberately pacifying people not to be angry and are misleading the public that the government has acted in line with the Constitution.
This is misleading because the Government acted contrary to the Constitution!
This is so because the Constitution states that the suspension must only come when the tribunal is constituted.
The question is ‘Was that what happened?’ A big NO!
But yet the misplaced press release of the so called Council of Churches wants us to believe that the appointment of the TRIBUNAL is per the dictates of the Constitution.
And even when earlier in the day, Lawyer Basita Michael’s resignation has already exposed the wrongful nature of the said TRIBUNAL, the said press release ignored the clarion call of early warning signs of abuse in the setting up of the said tribunal!
The Judicial Legal Service Commission (JLSC) is violating its own very rules by failing to state the offenses which the Auditor General and her deputy Mr Tamba Momoh had committed.
The failure to show the offenses committed by the JLSC explains the situation of a Trial by Armbush.
Practitioners of horoscope would tell you that number 3 is ill-luck.
Moreover, the Spider as a hungry insect is depicted in mythology as having advised three cooks to tie a cord around it and once they finish preparing food, they should draw the cord for it to feast on their respective meals.
But ill-luck befell spider as the three cooks finished preparing food at the same time.
Spider was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea as the three cooks drew their cords simultaneously.
Bang! Spider was so tightened that until doom’s day, spider is one of the insects with a thin, if not very thin body.
Coming to the situation in Sierra Leone, Eagle’s eye would like to first and foremost quote few lines from free verse Poet, Gwendolyn Brooks’ Poem: “Horses Graze”
It reads: “Cows graze
As can be deduced from the above, eat is stressed thrice to show the level of gluttony and brute satisfaction of these animals.
The animal instincts in man should be suppressed or else it may lead to disastrous consequences in one’s political agenda.
As Eagle’s eye highlighted in the introductory paragraph of this article, 3 is an ill-luck number.
Readers would now recall that President Bio in the last forth night has made three errors in the art of governance which continue to box him into a tight political corner in which his spinners will not be able to extricate him from.
Error number one: President Bio unconstitutionally suspended the reputable Auditor-General of Audit Service Sierra Leone, Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce from office and one of her deputies, Tamba Momoh.
The unconstitutionality of this deliberate act of President Bio has been succinctly put by Lawyer Charles Francis Margai in a Legal opinion titled: “My thought on the Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce saga.”
A paragraph in the piece reads: “The President’s suspension of the Auditor-General and her deputy should have sufficed and not prefixed a referral of their removal from office to a tribunal.
(see section 137 (6) of Act No. 6 of 1991).”
Eagle’s eye views this unconstitutionality been shamefacedly managed now by the Bio regime as reports in “Awareness Times Newspaper” dated Thursday November, 18th 2021 read, “Initial reports that the President had sent Mrs. Taylor-Pearce on suspension order his hand later proved to be untrue.
However, now that the tribunal has been set up, the President is expected to have a letter written directly to Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce ordering her to go face the tribunal and suspending her from office pending the outcome of the tribunal.”
Indeed it is like Bio putting the cat before the horse!
Coming to error number two: Bio’s attraction of boos during a public function in Kono.
Eagle’s eye considers this scenario as clear indication of premonitions of failure and defeat of Bio in 2023 presidential election.
Error number three: SLPP/Bio’s stolen victory in Ward 091 Bye-election in Kono as well as presentation of a very uninspiring 2022 budget in the wells of parliament.
This nasty behavior by a SLPP Party Agent who has the audacity and arrant arrogance to destroy ballot papers in a bid to give undue victory to SLPP and indirectly give false sense of popularity to Bio’s failed policies and activities is an anathema to Sierra Leone’s democracy.
Eagle’s eye is even annoyed that this complicit behavior by NEC just weeks after EU took swipes at NEC’s credibility leaves any sane Sierra Leonean with raised eyebrows and trepidation of what will happen in 2023 watershed elections if NEC, SLP and the Judiciary are not called to order.
And for the budget speech, the least said about it the better.
The point is, the diatribes and platitudes in the budget disqualify if as very uninspiring and a major dis-connect to Sierra Leone’s developmental trajectory.
In this light, President Bio’s ‘spider web of reversals’ is alarmingly, blatantly nauseating and forebodes ill-will for citizens as the unlucky number 3!
We Yone View
We Yone joins Hon. Sallieu Osman Sesay to affirm the budget presented by the Minister of Finance, Denis Sandy is ‘Suffer Posh’.
‘Suffer Posh’’ could be attributed in a literary sense as an unachievable, a loud, and an extravagant financial plans of the fiscal year of the government in 2022.
The House of Parliament, overtime has been playing significant role in reviewing budgets from the central Government.
We Yone observes the SLPP Bio-led Government has not been going by financial plan.
The financial managers of the state and for the past couple of years has been spending funds loosely to a point that the government’s expenditure goes beyond the funds approved by the House.
We Yone can safely say, all this is happening because of the expansion of the wage bill.
We Yone notes one of the main functions of Parliament is to discuss and pass the Budget.
Year in, year out, the Minister of Finance introduces the Budget in Parliament after its been discussed in committees
We Yone notes the Budget is an annual plan for what government wants to achieve and how it will spend money to achieve those goals.
The Budget, We Yone, believes, is one of the most important economic instrument of the government.
It is used to: make sure that the state has the resources it needs to do its work; create conditions which stimulate economic growth; clearly indicate the priorities of government.
The sad reality is, the mangers of the economy has missed out and there is no clear correlation between the two sides of the budget: revenue (income) and expenditure (what will be spent).
The inability of the financial managers to manage the available resources (money) with meeting the basic social needs of the people is a major crisis which had befallen the state.
We Yone notes that all the wishful allocations the government had made to finance activities of MDAs may not be achievable given the fact that the current government is spending more than the revenue they generate.
The State is unable to attract foreign direct investment because of the unfavorable business climate.
The Bank Governor has revealed how the Central Bank has insensitively auctioned millions of dollars but the issue of inflation remains the same with no potential for growth.
The political economy of Sierra Leone (Bread and Butter) is because private business is not thriving. This could either be because of the high taxation levied on business people or for the fact that the country is struggling with serious constructional controversies.
We Yone concludes the 2022 budget is laborious.
Patriotic Sierra Leoneans from all walks of life, including renowned international organizations, have been issuing out statements, press releases, in solidarity with the Auditor General of Audit Service Sierra Leone, Lara Pearce Taylor, after she was suspended indefinitely by President Bio.
Inasmuch as the President has right to suspend the AG, what has come out prominently is, the hasty decision was done without the due process.
As usual, the role Dr. Sylvia Blyden is playing at this material moment is in the reverse, using the situation to seek attention/currying favours with the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).
Dr. Sylvia Blyden has been preoccupied with misleading information to dilute the contentious indefinite suspension of the AG and her deputy to some gullible citizens.
By every indication, Dr. Blyden seems clueless about the issue, in a very disingenuous manner, reading from the same hymn sheet of the government. At the end of this piece you will release Miss Blyden’s attack is uncalculated.
Auditing which is a component of the accounting profession is a process that is guided by international principles and standards, and hence the worse the Auditor General could have done in the issue of FCC was to have done what she did by giving one of the least opinion – which is the disclaimer of opinion – assuming FCC was audited separately.
What is a Disclaimer of Audit Opinion?
A disclaimer of opinion is a statement made by an auditor where no opinion is being given regarding the financial statements of a client.
This disclaimer may be given for several reasons. For example, the auditor may not have been allowed or been able to complete all planned audit procedures.
Or, the client restricted the scope of the examination to such an extent that the auditor was unable to form an opinion.
Since the FCC is a components of the General Purpose Financial Statement (GPFS), (GoSL) the opinion rendered on this very 2019 report was the unqualified opinion, which is an evidence that shows consistency from the last two years when the same opinion was issued.
Apparently, this opinion is considered as a clean report, and it further indicates that the auditor is satisfied with the financial reporting, and it is believed that the operations are in good compliance with governance principles and applicable laws.
The fact of the matter is the unaudited FCC implemented projects, which Sylvia is making noise about from the top of her roof is not significant to cause a risk that could have led to material misstatement of the (GPFS)/(GoSL) of the year under review.
Sylvia is ignorant about auditing process and how it is being carried, therefore she does not understand that the primary objective of auditing a financial statement is to provide the users with an opinion on whether the financial statements are fairly present in all material respects.
Ideally, the opinion of an auditor is being based on professional judgement after evaluating the evidence gathered during the audit of financials, and also indirectly on the findings of the many other audits undertaken throughout the preceding year on transactions carried out in the year under reviewer.
DR SYLVIA BLYDEN’s CONTENTION
2019 audit report on FCC: “Even though the Transform Freetown priorities should form the basis for the preparation of the annual budget of the Council,”
“the Council however failed to link these priorities to the 2019 budget. As a result, the 2019 budget of the Council was not complete due to this omission.”
“Additionally, the projects implemented by other agencies on behalf of the Council were not audited because of lack of information on them at the time of the audit exercise.”
From the highlighted sentence above – an extracted from page 78 of the 2019 Audit report, Lara clearly stated the reason for not auditing the projects implemented by other agencies on behalf of FCC.
Did the Auditor General violate any auditing principles, standards, legal and regulatory frame works?
The Answer is a no! Auditing is a process that is guided by international principles and standards, therefore, the work of the Auditor General has a limited scope, and it is time bound; hence the Auditor General could at any point determine whether to proceed or not with an audit engagement based on the circumstances, and the magnitude of the audit risk.
For instance, in the FCC scenario above, it would have been time consuming, and costly at the time to do any proper and professional auditing considering that a third party was directly involved, and compounding the problem was the fact that no information was available at the time to guide the process of the engagement.
Assuming the Auditor General had proceeded at the time to audit FCC: the following would have happened: alteration of the scope of the engagement, and consequently go beyond the scheduled time frame, thus that would have had a huge financial implication.
So a professional Auditor would have evaluated the implications, do a cost benefit analysis, and then carry out what is called an alternative audit procedure, and subsequently makes further recommendations.
In as much section 119(2) of the 1991 constitution gives the auditor general the power to auditing every MDA, or body that get support from the consolidated fund, equally it is incumbent upon an entity to make sure your agency or department is audited every year.
What happen if an entity is not audited during a particular year? Cases like that are not strange and do happen frequently especially in developing countries including Sierra Leone: for instance, for three years (2015-2017) the Ministry of Transport and Aviation was not Audited, albeit it didn’t stop the Auditor General from carrying out the constitutional overarching mandate as prescribed in the above section.
No professional auditor would want to take a risk to audit an entity when the relevant documents that help to guide the process of the engagement are not available, cognizant of a limited scope and time.
LEGAL, REGULATORY AND INTERNATIONAL STANDARD FRAME WORK (1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone)
Of the fourteen sections of Article 119 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone there is no section that says the Auditor general could be in violation of any of the sections therein for failing to implement 119 (2)(3)
Local government Act 2004
Section 67 (2) (b) balance income and expenditure by way of annual financial estimates of revenue and expenditure;
Yes, councils are required by the above Act to have their financial statements audited every year as mandated by the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone.
International Standard On Auditing (ISA) –
Is a professional standards dealing with the responsibilities of the independent auditor while conducting the financial audit of financial information?
These standards are issued by international federation of Accountants (IFAC) through the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB).
“ISA 2201 is a standard that deals with those aspects of engagement acceptance that are within the control of the auditor.”
It is crystal clear from the action of Sylvia, one can easily deduce that she is blinded by resentment against both Yvonne Aki Sawyer and Lara Pearce Taylor, as a result she refused to ask the experts on the subject matter to explain to her whether the action of Lara regarding the issue in question was in violation of any auditing principles or regulatory framework.
Lara is a professional Auditor who fully understands her job, so there is nothing that confuse her when it comes to professional Auditing.
Ostensibly, that is why the last paragraph on page 78 of the 2019 Audit report, she gave a reason why the other components were not audited, and any professional auditor could have done the same under the same circumstances.
Her worship the Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, and Mrs. Lara Taylor – Pearce are women with substance, and high pedigree – they have worked very hard over the years to build their reputation, so no amount of propaganda can easily tarnish their image or name.
This paper has in several past editions pointed out the National Fire Force under the Leadership of Chief Fire Officer, Mr Ali Ahmad Nazir Kamanda-Bongay should undergo a paradigm shift. This calls for injective of additional financial and logistical resources to enable the NFF better placed and prepared to not only prevent and or fight traditional outbreaks of fire but most importantly to fight fuel fire outbreaks.
Before going into the latest tragic fuel-tanker fire disaster which occasioned the monumental loss of lives and property, the administration of NFF deserves commendation for gains made since the days of past APC administration to date in terms of recruitment and training of personnel, procurement of fire engines and decentralization of operations. Prior to the latest fuel tanker disaster, the NFF was engaged in a spectacular commissioning program of the Fire Force Training school’s fire station in Sima Town, Rokel, and Western Rural Area.
In addition to the commissioning of the fire station to serve the Western Rural Area and even parts of Lower Koya chiefdom, Portloko district and communities like Allen Town and Calaba Town, as and when the need arises, a health clinic structure was also commissioned. The aforementioned infrastructures came in the wake of the opening of five stations in Pujehun, Portloko and a number of districts-all in a bid to decentralize firefighting operations.
Thus, to all intents and purposes, the ongoing tenure of CFO Kamanda-Bongay has been one of incomparable successes and achievements as part of the government’s security architecture. Coupled with results being realized from overseas connections especially with the government and people of the Federal Republic of Germany, the operational strength of NFF is worthy of commendation. Yet, the NFF is still grappling with constraints evidenced in inadequate allocations and somehow luke-warm attitude by very senior officials to treat NFF as a key institution in the security apparatus.
The bottom line is, Fire Force is the topmost when it comes to the protection of lives and properties. Considering historic landmarks of the disaster fire can cause to the nation: London fire outbreak and Fire burn in Freetown in 1940, calls for the fire force to be adequately beefed up and transformed cannot be over-emphasized. The Friday 5th November 2021 fire outbreak at Wellington, Freetown is a national disaster which for decades to come will hunt the national spectacle and psyche.
Although, We Yone will refrain from blaming anybody or institutions, what came out clearly is the fact that the NFF lacks the equipment and materials to put out fuel fire outbreaks. Appreciable, the NFF was able to contain the spread of the inferno, thereby ensuring the collateral damage to properties was manipulated. But the inadequacy of resources to enable NFF to procure fuel firefighting materials like foams, extinguishers and other logistics to specifically put fuel fire outbreaks is a cause of concern.
Therefore, the latest disaster should serve as a wake-up call for the NFF to undergo a paradigm shift in its operations to ensure diversity, enhanced capacity and timely response. It is not a problem; rather it is a lack of intensive injection of resources. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Finance as well as the office of the President should consider this as a priority in the interest of compatriots and infrastructures.