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ACC probes Office of the First Lady

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday announced the commencement of full and comprehensive probe on matters of budgetary justifications for allocations and expenditures of state funds to the Office of the First Lady, both past and present.

The move by the ACC cannot be unconnected to the recent publications by the Africanist Press of allege misuse of public funds, as well as the legality of such funds being disbursed to the OFL by the Ministry of Finance.

To ascertain their claims, the Africanist Press provided some documentary evidence of huge funds allocated to the First Lady, Fatima Bio’s office to undertake certain projects, including the Hands-Off Our Girls Campaign.

A press release from the ACC stated that the investigation will also look at the legal and regulatory framework, if any for such allocations.

According to the commission, preliminary findings show that the entity known as “Office of First Lady” had been receiving billions of leones of state funds yearly, spanning 14 years to date and that most of the payments were either directly made to the holders of that office or channeled through the Presidency, as normal presidential official expenditure signed-off on by respective secretaries to the President.

“We are therefore at the stage of collecting and analyzing records of accounts, official approval documents and any legal or regulatory framework around such payments; and the conclusions reached will assist in determining progress on the issue,” the release stated.

Persons of interests, according to the anti-graft agency, will be interviewed with regards the issues raised and the public will be informed on the findings, conclusions and next steps.

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