After a protracted Commission Of Inquiry (COI) matter involving former Minister of Health and Sanitation in the Koroma administration, Miatta Kargbo, the COI found her guilty of non-supply of 20 ambulances procured for the Ebola fight and other allegations, including unexplained wealth and failure to declare her asset in accordance with the ACC Act. With these findings, the COI report resulted in the release of the government White Paper, which indicated that several properties belonging to the POIs will be confiscated and the convicts forced to refund the alleged stolen monies. Many Persons of Interest (POIs) decided to appeal against the decisions of the COI.
At the Court of Appeals, where rules of evidence are observed, several evidence in respect of the allegations were produced and testimonies examined, which led the Court to deduce that the aforementioned 20 ambulances were procured, supplied and used for the Ebola, thereby exonerating Miatta Kargbo from the said conviction. Unfortunately, the evidence in respect of unexplained wealth that was produced by lawyer for Miatta Kargbo, Melron Nicol-Wilson, who appealed against the COI decision, were objected to by State Counsel Robert Kowa on grounds that they were new evidences, which should have been produced at the High Court level and not at the Appeals Court. Ironically, these evidences were not produced at the COI, because rules of evidence were not observed. The COI was just some loose tribunal, publicly aired, despite calls from defence lawyers and the Bar Association for their inclusion.
According to documentary evidence provided by Miatta Kargbo’s lawyer, Melron Nicol-Wilson, it showed financial transactions between Madam Miatta Kargbo and other institutions like the NP-SL that contracted her two tankers to transport fuel to their stations since 2011 to 2018, proceeds from haulage trucks that transported stones, granite, sand and even timber on a hire basis, plus compensation of some $160,000 paid into her Zenith Bank account in respect of a Court matter between her and Gouji, which she won. Also payment of consultancy from a Dfid funded program under the office of the President, where she was earning $6,000 per month for 18 months. Had these evidence been allowed by the Appeals Court the decision would have favoured her.
As minister, Madam Miatta Kargbo was focused on performance and delivery, bent on changing the narrative at the MoHS, but her efforts were frowned at, by people who wanted the status quo to remain, whilst committed workers showed determination to see a change in the health sector. Such people will go to all lengths to see the downfall of action-oriented people, who deliver. This pulling down syndrome has characterised Sierra Leone’s political landscape, and many good people have been brought down, their names and reputations tarnished. But those who know this female political dinosaur say that she is an iron woman, who has offered so much to the development of the country’s health system. She is said to be only interested in competence and has no place for tribal/ethnic sentiments, political affiliation or religion, but simply in one’s ability to deliver. Those who have worked with her say that she is a principled individual who did not compromise and this did not go down well with her detractors, who felt that her tenure at the ministry will be business as usual. Some of her colleagues say that “… she rewarded performance and did not practice nepotism, tribalism or regionalism“. Another opined that “…during her tenure in office, the Ministry leadership was the most diverse in terms of gender – women in leadership, and regional diversity and party affiliation“.
Her exoneration by the Appeals Court on the missing ambulances, has further cast doubt over her guilt in the other areas, especially as it is clear that she built no house and was living at her family house, a rare scenario for many Sierra Leonean ministers and politicians. Many Sierra Leoneans say that time will tell and everything will come to light.