The Sierra Leone Petroleum Regulatory Agency has been implicated by the Africanist Press for allegedly making suspicious payments  to media houses believed to be own by some members of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party in 2020.

Details of Payments to Various Newspapers/Media Companies by the Petroleum Regulatory Agency (PRA) in FY2020

The following transactions show details of direct payments made to various newspapers from the Accounts of the Petroleum Regulatory Agency (PRA) in FY2020.

Africanist Press discovered that about 72 transactions were processed from the PRA Account between 8th January 2020 and 21st October 2020 as payments for “media services” provided by the listed newspapers and media companies to the Petroleum Regulatory Agency (PRA) in FY2020.

The Petroleum Regulatory Agency (PRA) is the agency responsible to license and regulate the efficient importation, storage, transportation, and distribution of petroleum in Sierra Leone, including the regular availability of petroleum products in the country.

According to Africanist Press findings, the transactions show that the recurring payments were made to a selected number of newspapers, many of whom are owned or operated by individuals believed to be sympathetic to the SLPP. The highest number of payments were received by Global Times, News 24, Unity Newspaper, and The Satellite; mostly newspapers owned by SLPP members and supporters, or largely operated by individuals aligned with the SLPP.

The Africanist Press further pointed out that the transaction records of the Petroleum Regulatory Agency (PRA) provides no details on how the said newspapers and media companies were selected or contracted to provide the stated services for which the listed amounts were paid to them, raising questions as to why the selected newspapers were the only ones receiving the recurring payments despite the flood of other regularly printed newspapers in circulation in Sierra Leone.

Records of Sierra Leone’s Independent Media Commission (IMC), the agency responsible for regulating the country’s media landscape, show that a total of 225 newspapers/print media companies were registered between 1992 and 2021; at least more than 50 of which are still in operation.

See below details of the transactions, including cheque numbers and names of the recipient newspapers and media companies.

The Africanist Press is well known to track public expenditure and corruption across Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in the Bio regime