By Jeneba Kemoh
As part of its mandate to recover public properties deemed to have been misappropriated, the Regional Office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Kenema has, on the 3rd March, 2022, handed over 16 motorbikes and other office equipment to Mott Macdonald UK Aid being project properties for the monitoring of the Free Quality Education programme. The handing over took place at the Commission’s Eastern Region office in Kenema.
Handing over the motorbikes, ACC’s Manager, Eastern Region, Keifala Koi said that it is the mandate of the Commission to receive and investigate complaints regarding alleged contraventions of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019, which includes investigating the extent of liability for the loss of or damage to any public property and recovering same. He furthered that the Commission sought to retrieve the motorbikes after receiving a complaint from Mott Macdonald Development Aid that staff had refused to turn them in due to the failure of the institution to pay them their end of service benefits. Mr. Koi concluded that the Commission successfully retrieved all the motorbikes which are properties of the Government of Sierra Leone under the ‘Leh Wi Learn’ Project. Other items retrieved are 11 Honor tablets, 3 Teckno phones, 3 helmets and 1 power bank.
Lead Investigation Officer in the matter, Hassan Kamara said that there was no scuffle in retrieving the said motorbikes as the project staff cooperated fully with the Commission. He emphasized that the operation was done pursuant to the Commission's mandate to recover government funds and properties where there are cases of misappropriation. He concluded that the retrieval will continue in Kailahun and Kono and was hopeful that it would be successful.
Receiving the motorbikes from the ACC, District Programs Support Officer of the ‘Leh Wi Learn’ Project, Sallieu Bakarr said that they were impressed with the recovery after several failed attempts to convince the project staff to hand over the said motorbikes. He further stated that they were initially doubtful as to whether the ACC would succeed in retrieving the bikes given the stance of the said staff and the failed attempts of other institutions to retrieve the bikes. “Seeing these retrievals happen leaves an indelible impression and respect for the ACC in our minds,” he stated. He thanked the Commission for their prompt intervention.
It could be recalled that Mott Macdonald UK Aid was aiding the implementation of the “Leh Wi Learn” project geared towards monitoring the Free Quality Education project in schools. The project laid down project staff on contract, and requested them to return all project tools, a call that was not heeded due to disagreement over the non-payment of benefits. Project staff, therefore, held on to the motorbikes on the condition that they will be returned only after the payment of their benefits.