Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission Gets Tough on Use of Ebola Funds

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Government spokesperson,Abdulai Bayraytay- Describes Ebola_web.jpg

Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission has launched early investigations into corruption allegations of the misapplication of funds intended for Ebola containment and eradication in that neighboring country.

The investigation by the anti-corruption commission was incited by audit reports that millions of US dollars were disbursed to key personnel of Sierra Leone’s health institutions and local officials of government, leaving accountability in question.

In pursuit of the facts, the commission has invited 40 persons, including medical and local officials to appear before it to answer questions about how the funds were used.  Some of those connected to the allegations are said to be senior government officials.

They are asked to bring with them supporting documents verifying the amounts they received and expended to help fight the Ebola virus.

The amount in question, according to the audit report, is 84 billion Leones equivalent to £12 million, and is part of taxpayers’ money allocated between May and October 2014 to fight the Ebola virus that has devastated Sierra Leone like it hit its two neighbors, Liberia and Guinea.

Reports indicate that some of the money was disbursed to individual medical practitioners instead of institutions and there are no vouchers or receipts backing some spending claimed to have been made.

The report goes further to indict the head of the Health for All Coalition, Charles Mambu as receiving six cheques made out to him instead of the organization.

Government spokesperson, Abdulai Bayraytay in reaction to the allegations said the Government of Sierra Leone is taking the issue seriously and will ensure that anyone connected to the mismanagement of Ebola funds must be prosecuted and punished under the law, if found guilty.

The government spokesperson, who described Ebola fund as “Blood money” is quoted as saying that President Ernest Bai Koroma takes the issue seriously, and that even senior government official caught in the saga will not be spared from punishment prescribed by law.

“We will support all the institutions that continue to bring accountability to the government,” he said.

How and when will Liberia account

for massive Ebola Funding?

Like Sierra Leone, Liberia has been gravely affected by the Ebola virus and international communities, governments, individuals and institutions donated enormous amounts of materials and money to fight the virus.

It may be recalled that during the heat of the virus, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara Konneh warned that anyone who eats Ebola money will be prosecuted and punished.

Not much is known about how the government and its Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) are planning to hold stakeholders accountable for the materials and money that poured into the country during the heat of the Ebola crisis.

There were outcries that patients in ETUs were not receiving needed treatments while health workers over time have complained about not being paid their hazard benefits.

In one Civil Society Organization Ebola Task Force meeting in Monrovia, it was reported that county officials and others whom money was disbursed to refused to state the amount they received or how they spent the money.

The CSO wishes to know the exact amounts received in order to compare figures with what government and others claim to have received and what the amounts were spent on.

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