In her bid to unearth the irregularities and expose the misuse of the people’s money, the Auditor General has come under intense criticisms, and there are indications that those on whose toes she had stepped are not going to take her actions lightly, they seem to have gone on the war path, making all sorts of allegations against her institution, so as to discredit her work. Unfortunately, they have failed to realise that the position of Auditor General is a creation of the country’s constitution (section 119), and that she is only answerable to Parliament (the people’s representatives), by extension, to the people of Sierra Leone, and no one else (section 119 (6) of the 1991 Constitution refers)

Section 119 of the 1991 Constitution:

(6) In the exercise of his functions under this Constitution or any other law, the Auditor-General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.

This was intentionally put in the said constitution to protect the Auditor General from interference in the discharge of her duties. So far Sierra Leoneans are satisfied with her work and only those on whose toes she has stepped are worried of further revelations that might come up when she continues to scrutinize the Corona Virus Fund.

The Audit Report she produced during the tenure of the former President Koroma administration was one of the documents used in the COI, thus there is no reason to think that her report will be otherwise manipulated. She has been on record for giving the most concise and forthright in her description of the use of the public accounts of the country. It is her work that has made many Sierra Leoneans aware that there has been massive corruption in public institutions, which had been responsible for the current state of the country’s economy and any manipulation to get rid of her could best be described as a means of allowing corruption to have a field day in the country.

What is being displayed by the Ministry of Finance against the Auditor General is an attempt to take away the independence of the office of Auditor General, an office create by the constitution of Sierra Leone, and in the process give all unscrupulous officials a free hand in looting the people’s money with impunity and render the masses in abject poverty. The ASSL is not a revenue generation entity, but rather an entity that investigates the use of revenue generated for the public good by state officials and other persons in authority. All funding for the institution is from the consolidated fund in accordance with the dictates of the constitution and the Treasury Single Account (TSA) does not in any way include it in its list of those that should deposit all their accounts there; According to Executive Order 1 of President Bio. The implementation of the TSA was to be done in accordance with the provisions of the Financial Management and Control Act (FMCA).

It could be recalled that attempts to control the activities of the ASSL by the Ministry Of Finance, which issued a Memorandum threatening Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) that its budgetary allocation will be withheld if they do not comply with that directive, saw the institution seeking legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office on same, where the Solicitor General (SG), in his reply dated 12 April 2018, said that the“objective of the Financial Management and Control Act is to enhance the effective management of government funds and to provide better oversight of revenue collecting agencies of Government.”

“Our conclusion is that the Audit Service Sierra Leone is not a revenue collecting agency of government and therefore Executive Order No.1 of 9th April 2018 on Revenue Mobilization does not apply to its operations.

Unfortunately, after the release of the 2019 Audit Report and that of COVID-19, which established wide spread corruption by government officials, as well as those in the Ministry of Finance, the Financial Secretary Again came up with his earlier memo in respect of the ASSL adherence to the TSA regulations. In a sudden change of mind, the Solicitor General, Lamin Tarawally,said that: “Audit Service Sierra Leone is mandated by law to pay into the Consolidated Fund all revenues and monies generated and/or collected by them, effective immediately into the Consolidated Fund and the said fund can be audited by the Accountant General who controls the Consolidated Fund.”

Why the two different stance on the same matter (one in 2018 and another in 2020) by the office of the Attorney General? Is it to render the ASSL helpless in the execution of her duties when it is against them and to embrace it when it is in their favour?Has the Auditor General bruised the heads of the cats, rendering them fierce and dangerous? Does it make sense for the Accountant General to audit the ASSL that audits its use of public fund? Is transparency and accountability being compromised? These are questions that have all been asked in the on-going wrangling between the Ministry of Finance and the ASSL over accountability issues. Where will this leave the fight against corruption, so vehemently preached by President Bio?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *