12 April 2019

Sierra Leone: Colabo, Esther Michael, Admit Receiving Millions of Leones

President of the All Stars, Milton Caulker aka Colabo and Founder and CEO of Music for Girls Initiative for Africa, Esther Micheal, have admitted receiving huge sums of money from the Ministry of Youth Affairs, but stated that they had no knowledge about the Youth in Drainage Project.

The two were before the Justice Biobele Georgewill's Commission of Inquiry room 1, to answer to allegations made against them.

They were asked as to whether they had prior knowledge about the said project from which huge sums of money was given to them by the Road Maintenance Fund Administration (RMFA).

In his testimony,Colabo told the Commission that his organization seeks the welfare of musicians that are part of the All Stars Union, and that the union is being financed through weekly contributions and musical events that they organise in and out of the country.

On the issue of the Le500, 000, 000, 00 given to him, Colabo said they organised an event called "made in Salone" and that because of it positive outcome, they wanted to hold the same in the United States, hence the union wrote a proposal to the Ministry of Youth Affairs in order for them to facilitate the trip to the U.S.

"After the Ebola, the musicians were at the top of helping the government in the post Ebola Recovery and by also sharing bilateral terms with the U.S and the world at large that the country was free from Ebola Virus. So, we wrote the project and it was addressed to the ministry. They responded through the RMFA account and the Permanent Secretary gave us the Le500, 000,000. There is even some document to that effect," he narrated.

He told the commission that he had no knowledge about the Youth in Drainage Project and that he was not even aware that the said amount of money was taken from the said project's account.

Founder and CEO of the Music of Girls Initiative Africa was also cross examined by State Counsel, O.V Robin Mason.

She testified that her organization was geared towards women and girls empowerment and that on the issue of the 50, 000, 000, 00, they forwarded a project proposal in 2016 to the RMFA.

She said RMFA thought it project was viable and should support it, adding that after due diligence, the RMFA asked them to channel the proposal to the Ministry of Youth.

"We requested for over Le100, 000, 000, 00, but Le150, 000, 000, 00 was given to us in two tranches by the then Permanent Secretary," she revealed.

Justice Biobele however told her that the evidence in the Commission states that she received Le50,000,000,00, " but how come that you are now saying that it is Le150,000,000,00 that was given to you."

Meanwhile, Defense Lawyer I. Mansaray, representing former Minister of Youth Affairs,Bai Mamoud Bangura, questioned the witness as to who was her direct contact at the time of disbursement.

She replied that her direct contact was the RMFA and that the ministry only helped to facilitate the project proposal for them, adding that she believed the RMFA must have approved the project proposal in line with their corporate social responsibility.

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