The first witness in the matter between the State and Joseph Sam Sesay at the Commission of Inquiry presided over by Justice Bankole Thompson has tendered into evidence two declaration forms (2008 and 2011) submitted by the former Agriculture Minister Joseph Sam Sesay, who served as Minister from October 2007 to 2016.
He is expected to appear before the COI along with other former Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Director of Agriculture for the period under review. According to Lawyer Kowa, they are to provide reason for their actions or inactions regarding what they have acquired directly or indirectly financial and/or material gains fraudulently and/or improperly to the detriment of our nation.
Led in evidence by Lead State Counsel R. B. Kowa, Fatu Florence Kamara, Asset Declaration Officer from the Anti- Corruption Commission was asked why she is before the Commission. “I am here representing the Commission which was given a letter by the Deputy Attorney General to submit list of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from 2007 to April 2018” she said. Lawyer Kowa went further to enquire whether as an Asset Declaration Officer if she is in custody of assets declaration forms for Joseph Sam Sesay from 2007 to 2016.
Kamara replied in the affirmative and was further asked if she wants the Commission to see his declaration form for that period. Fatu tendered the said documents as evidence relating to asset declarations made by the former Minister with the exception of declaration forms for 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Justice Thompson then stated that the documents tendered be received in evidence and marked exhibit S 1-6 for 2008 and exhibit T 1-7 for 2011.
Lawyer Kowa added that they will be submitting oral and documentary evidence from witnesses and/or persons of interest (P01) and may further apply for the commission for a Locus in quo visit when necessary. The State he said will present evidence in respect of Government allocations and donor funds received by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and its ancillary Agencies and Departments.
Referencing Section 56 (1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone which created the Offices of Ministers and Deputy Ministers as may be established by the President. Section 62 of the said Constitution also states that where any Minister has been charged with responsibility for any Department of Government he shall exercise general direction and control over that Department and, subject to such direction and control, the Department shall be under the supervision of a Permanent Secretary, whose office shall be a public office.
The Ministry he said is divided into a Professional Department headed by the Chief Agricultural Officer and an Administrative Department headed by the Permanent Secretary. The State shall be relying on the following legislations to establish the culpability of those who were in control.
- The Public Procurement Act 2004
- Government Budgeting and Accountability Act No. 3 of 2005
- The Financial Management Regulation 2007 (as amended)
- The Public Financial Management Act, 2016 5
- The Procurement Regulation 2006 6
- The Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991
- Any other relevant legislation, Rules,
The State he said will look into specific projects undertaken by the said Ministry such as Fertilization Scheme and its management, Tractors hire Purchase, Seeds Multiplication Project, Diversified food production project, Small Scale Agricultural Development Project Funds, Small and Medium Enterprise Projects Funds, Reforestation Project Funds and The Presidential Initiative Programme of Direct Cash transfer etc. In addition to asset declaration forms tendered, Kamara presented two forms for former Minister Monty P. Jones, who served from January 2016 to April 2018, marked as exhibit U 1-4 for 2015 and V 1-3 for 2017.
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Wednesday February 13, 2019.