Yesterday the Anti Corruption Commission took on its biggest case to date indicting 29 civil servants including Sierra Leone’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kisito Daoh for misappropriation of GAVI Funds.
After an hour-long delay, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission showed up at a press briefing to announce the indictment of Dr. Daoh and six other Medical Doctors for misuse of funds from the Gates Foundation Gavi immunization project.
A month ago Dr Doah was among nine other officials at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation suspended by President Koroma after the ACC said it would open investigations into $1 million that GAVI Alliance said was unaccounted for at the Ministry.
“The allegations included but not limited to undocumented expenses, cash disbursements from Bank accounts without documentation and overcharged procurement costs relating to the purchase of ambulances,” Kamara told a packed Cathedral Hall in Freetown.
He went on to state that in keeping with their mandate; the Commission initiated an investigation into the matter and has filed a case against the indicted parties.
“This must stop now, the systemic misuse of donor funds meant for the people must not be tolerated and we will be investigating more projects “Commissioner Kamara lamented.
Dr. Kizito Daoh, Dr. Alhassan L. Sesay, Dr. Francis Smart, Dr. Duramany Conteh, Dr. A. A. Sandy and Edward Bai Kamara were Charged with 22 counts of Misappropriation of donor funds contrary to section 37 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act, No. 12 of 2008 in the sum of Le 118,157,534 (One Hundred and Eighteen Million, One Hundred and Fifty-Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Thirty Four Leones)
Partick Tucker a Civil Society representative at the Anti-Corruption Interactive Forum worries that trying to take on so many people at once may overwhelm the Judiciary.
“So many pending cases in the court and the fines being levied against those that are stealing from us are small, this is affecting the fight against corruption and I don’t think anything will change,” he said.
Meanwhile, 22 of 29 officials have already been arrested and put on bail, awaiting arraignment in the High Court as investigations into the findings of the 2011 Audit Report continues.