Former First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma Linked to Over Le208m Corruption Query
The Auditor General has queried the Ernest Bai Koroma University Secretariat for spending Le208 million on an activity of the former First Lady, Sia Nyama Koroma in 2017 and asked that the former Vice Chancellor should refund the said amount.
According to her 2019 Annual Report, financial statements showed that the University provided gifts and donations valued at Le240,916,000 and Le46,700,000 for 2016 and 2017 respectively, to various institutions and organisations without any written policy or guidelines on donations.
The audit team was unable to determine the rationale behind those donations as they fall outside the remit of the University. Of utmost concern to the audit team was the fact that a total amount of Le220,916,000 and Le25,000,000 for 2016 and 2017 respectively was reported to have been spent on activities related to the National Girls Camp organised by the Office of the First Lady.
From their review of payment records relating to the said program, the Auditors observed that a request for the use of the University facilities was made by the Office of the First Lady without clear insight as to what was needed for the program.
They however noted from further reviews that out of the Le220 million, an amount of Le36 million (Le36,980,000) was spent on the rehabilitation of various structures such as basketball court, volley ball court, electrification of student hostels and auditorium, general cleaning of the University campus and other ancillary expenses.
The remaining amount of Le183,936,000 the auditors said was separated into four payments for the same activities mentioned above. Furthermore, it was observed that the amount of Le25,000,000 for 2017 was said to be a loan repayment for activities undertaken during the National Girls Camp.
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“We consider this amount as ineligible, as it was outside the request submitted by the Office of the First Lady and the University’s functions. The former Vice Chancellor should refund the amount of Le208,936,000 and evidence of payment forwarded to the ASSL for verification” the Auditor General said.
The Vice Chancellor in his response said “The Girls Camp was an activity organised by the office of the former First Lady and a letter was written to the University to give support in that direction, since it was serving as the host institution, so it was incumbent on the University administration to give its support, since it was an appeal from the Office of the First Lady which was geared towards the girl child. In essence, it was but fitting to classify the expenditure as donations from the part of the University for which the University’s Act is not silent about. It must be noted that though classified as donation, the money was used to refurbish the infrastructure of the University in readiness to host the event”.
In her final comment, the Auditor General said that Management’s response is noted. “The response proffered did not fully address the issues raised. Moreover, the activities undertaken were neither budgeted for, nor was the supervising Ministry consulted.”
Furthermore, no clear guidelines/policies were submitted to ASSL to justify the provision of gifts and donations. In conclusion, the Auditor General consider the above expenditure as extra budgetary expenditure. “This issue therefore remains unresolved.”