Sierra Leone: More ACC Witnesses Against Former NASSIT DG, Board Chair

Prosecutor for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Calvin T. Mantsebo, last Friday (1st March) led two prosecution witnesses in the ongoing corruption trial at the High Court involving the erstwhile Director General of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), Joseph Sedu Mans and Madam Yeabu M.D. Kamara, chairperson, Board of Trustees of the same institution.

In his testimony before Justice Miatta Samba, the third prosecution witness, Jonathan Juan-Kamanda, who introduced himself as Senior Procurement Officer and Head of Department at NASSIT, recognised the first accused as the former Director General and the Second accused as former Chairperson of Board of Trustees.

He said his duties include facilitating and ensuring that procurement of goods and services are done as stated in the 2016 Procurement Act, adding that he was aware of the SISIMI Medical Project undertaken by NAISSIT.

He said the project was in two phase and that the first phase involved the geotechnical and topographical survey of the hospital, adding that he was not involved in the project's procurement process.

He told the court that he was once informed by the then Deputy Director General Amara Kuyateh, that they were about to undertake a project and that they needed a special purpose vehicle to embark on the said project.

He said he had advised the Deputy Director General that despite the fact that they needed a special purpose vehicle for the project, once NASSIT was going to play a role in it, they should follow the due procedure as stated in the 2016 Procurement Act.

The witness also identified a document-a list of pre-qualified vendors that would have undertaken procurement for NASSIT, noting that the Resident Engineer at NASSIT, Gerald Coker, once requested for the said document, but that he refused to give it to him.

He told the court that there is a procurement committee at NASSIT with membership from top management, while the Director General serves as chairman.

The witness continued that he as the procurement officer serves as the secretary to that committee, adding that during the procurement process for the SISIMI project, the Deputy Director General acted as Chairman of the said committee.

He further that the procurement committee was not contracted to participate in the procurement of the project materials, but that he was later told that the special purpose vehicles were procured.

Also testifying, the forth prosecution witness, Hassan Musa Bangura, who also introduced himself as Director of Internal Audit, said he started working for NASSIT in 2006 as Manager of Internal Audit and in July, 2017, he was promoted to Director of Internal Audit.

He said his duties include internal auditing of NASSIT head office and all other branches across the country and subsequently submitting findings to the Board's Sub-committee.

He told the court that he was aware of the SISIMI Project, noting that in April 2017, the first accused as the then Director General, had asked him to carry out an audit on the process of the geotechnical, topographical and environmental Impact Assessment EIA, which he did.

He said his findings showed that section 41b of the Procurement Act, which provides for restrictive bidding, was used, adding that they also found out that no pre-qualification was done in the auditing process.

Meanwhile, the ACC alleges that both accused being the Director General and the chairperson, Board of Trustees of NASSIT and whose functions concerned the administration, management and use of public funds, on a date unknown between 1st August, 2017, and 31st December, 2017, engaged in a project without prior planning to wit engaged in a project with SISIMI Medical Foundation Inc., for the development, construction and delivery of an urgent care delivery service system for the provision of quality medical services in Sierra Leone without prior planning.

The court had granted a Le500 million bail and one surety each to both accused persons and the court had also ordered that none of the accused persons should leave the country without the prior knowledge of the court.

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