Paperwork on the funds and expenditure particulars of the Workplace of the First Woman of Sierra Leone present clearly how Madam Fatima Jabbe Bio spent greater than Le7.89 billion (over US$780,000) of public funds on private purchasing wants, and paying the journey prices and lodge lodging bills for overseas friends she invited to Sierra Leone to witness the launch of her flagship program, the Arms Off Our Women Marketing campaign, launched in mid-December of 2018. Sierra Leone’s finance legal guidelines don’t authorize the spouse of a sitting president to instantly obtain or use any public funds to undertake a social exercise or public marketing campaign. In a video broadcast on Monday January 18, 2021, First Woman Fatima Bio admitted to receiving state funds, however she argued that the mentioned public funds allotted to her group have been used for, what she described as, “the meant objective.”
Nonetheless, monetary data of the First Woman’s group present that the Le7,890,755,000 (over US$789,000) that was disbursed from the nation’s Consolidated Income Fund (CRF) to the group through the first six months of the Bio administration have been all spent between June and December 2018, totally on alleged workplace furnishings, digital gear, gasoline, journey tickets, and lodge lodging prices for overseas friends of the president’s spouse.
In a report revealed on January 18, 2021, Africanist Press launched financial institution statements of the First Woman’s group that confirmed exactly how the president’s spouse obtained almost Le30 billion (nearly US$3 million) in authorities funding in lower than three years after the inauguration of her husband, Julius Maada Bio as president of the nation in Might 2018 opposite to the finance legal guidelines of the nation.
Operational paperwork of the Workplace of First Woman declare that the group’s flagship program is geared toward a marketing campaign to eradicate rape and violence towards teenage women, together with a marketing campaign towards teenage being pregnant and early marriage.
Nonetheless, our investigation into the monetary operations of the group, together with how its allotted funds have been spent in 2018, revealed that the Le7.89 billion disbursed to the group by finance ministry officers didn’t adjust to nationwide finance legal guidelines. Sierra Leone’s 2016 Public Finance Administration Act – the regulation that governs budgetary allocations and use of public funds – gives that every one expenditures from the nation’s CRF, whatever the particular person authorizing withdrawals and disbursements, should be based mostly on stipulated division or company budgets accredited by parliament, and that procurement actions of businesses or establishments in receipt of public funds should equally comply with the related procurement plans and guidelines governing public procurements and expenditures of public funds as supplied within the public finance legal guidelines and laws of the nation.
We found in the middle of our investigation that public funds allotted to the First Woman to fund her group’s operations, together with the “Arms Off Our Women” marketing campaign, have been by no means accredited by Parliament, and that the allotted funds have been additionally used opposite to the finance laws governing withdrawals, expenditure, and retirement of public funds.
Proof acquired by the Africanist Press reveals that the First Woman made direct funds for providers and items to suppliers and repair suppliers with out a aggressive bidding course of. We found, specifically, that funds made to people and organizations between June 28, 2018, and December 28, 2018, have been by no means preceded by commercial notices for procurement bids. We additionally discovered proof of repeated funds for items and providers in ways in which counsel a number of and exaggerated invoicing. These funds included a cumulative whole of Le296,493,752 (about US$24,000) paid to the Home of Electronics, funds totaling Le614,282,211 (about US$60,000) made to AA Enterprises for furnishings for the Workplace of the First Woman, a complete of Le374,112,000 (about US$36,000) to Demba Enterprises for gasoline prices allegedly incurred by the First Woman, and different funds totaling Le111,585,600 (about US$11,000) to YOZ Companies for media promotion, and an mixture whole of Le850,000,000 (about US$83,000) paid to All Occasions Ideas, and about Le785,991,937 (about US$77,000) to Africa Media (SL) Restricted. The funds to YOZ, All Occasions Ideas, and Africa Media have been allegedly for media and occasion promotion providers. We found that every one these funds have been made instantly from the First Woman’s BSL Financial institution Account with out compliance with the general public finance legal guidelines.
Funds to All Occasions Ideas, as an example, included two transactions (FT1833213220 and FT1833328225) carried out on November 28 and 29, 2018, for the quantities of Le255,158,451 (about US$25,000) and Le178,618,916 (about US$14,000). Two different further funds (FT1833898326 and FT1834431721) to All Occasions Ideas have been additionally made on December 4 and December 10, 2018, for the quantities of Le240,000,000 (about US$24,000) and Le176,222,633 (about US$17,000), respectively. We found once more that these repeated funds weren’t supported by any documentation displaying how these organizations have been awarded the contracts for the alleged providers they supplied, and no proof displaying that any bidding or tender course of have been adopted. In actual fact, the transaction notes solely state that these funds, totaling about Le2.2 billion (about US$214,000), have been for the launching of the First Woman’s Flagship Program – the Arms Off Our Women Marketing campaign – held on December 14-15, 2018. Of curiosity, nonetheless, there isn’t any indication that the Le2.2 billion to launch the Arms Off Our Women Marketing campaign included any funds to run this system or to any communities concerned.
We additionally discovered that these expenditures don’t embrace various funds donated by company businesses once more for the two-day launching ceremony of the Arms Off Our Women Marketing campaign, and different funds by NGOs for the erection of lots of of the marketing campaign’s billboards and to fulfill prices associated to the nationwide tour of the First Woman. In mid-March 2020, Africanist Press revealed paperwork confirming the disbursement of a complete sum of Le3,116,755,000 supplied by the Ministry of Finance for the two-day launching ceremony of the group’s flagship program in December 2018. We revealed correspondence between Bockarie Momoh Foh, writing on behalf of the president’s secretary, to the Administration and Finance Officer of the First Woman confirming the allocation of the Le3.1 billion Leones for the launching occasion.
We tabulated, in March 2020, the entire quantities of additional or separate authorities funding and found that at the least Le5,827,080.000 of further authorities funds have been disbursed from the Finance Ministry into the First Woman’s Rokel Industrial Financial institution (RCB) Account through the first two months following the marketing campaign’s launch. The overall sum of money allotted to the First Woman for the two-day launching ceremony of the Arms Off Our Women Marketing campaign alone, as an example, is 4 instances greater than the mixed annual salaries of all 40 of the Senior Procurement Officers within the Public Procurement Division assigned throughout all ministries, businesses, and departments. With month-to-month salaries between Le1,420,076 (about US$140) and 1,624,763 (about US$160), the entire mixed salaries of all 40 Senior Procurement Officers within the nationwide workforce is Le56,803,146 (US$5580) month-to-month.
Thus, we conclude that 85% of the Le7.89 billion disbursed into the BSL Financial institution Account of the Workplace of the First Woman in 2018 for the combat towards rape and teenage being pregnant have been used totally on furnishings, occasions planning, lodge lodging, and travel-related prices for overseas friends of the president’s spouse.