Sierra Leone: Commission Opens Graft Probe Into State Chief Protocol Officer

Freetown — The chief protocol officer in the Sierra Leone presidency is being investigated over unexplained wealth and possible abuse of office.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) began probing State Chief of Protocol Fatmata Edna Kargbo after a video of her talking about her wealth went viral early August.

In the video, Ms Kargbo gives a testimony about her wealth at the Synagogue Church of All Nations, a church based in Nigeria, sparking outrage from citizens.

She is seen making a PowerPoint presentation to the congregation of charismatic preacher TB Joshua about how God had blessed her, and saying that she was even able to put up a storeyed building within the short period of her appointment.

ACC spokesman Success Kamara on August 27, 2019 told the Africa Review: "Such a testimony, we think, is a cause for concern."

Ms Kargbo was appointed to office in May 2018 by President Julius Maada Bio, and reports say the President suspended her from office to pave way for investigations.

The anti-graft commission questioned Ms Kargbo on August 22, 2019, and it is particularly interested in how Ms Kargbo managed to put up the building within a short time.

Sierra Leone's anti-graft law requires public officials to declare their assets three months into office and three months after leaving office.

The ACC uses this law to check against unexplained wealth, and Mr Kamara said they are looking at her previous asset declarations to find out whether she could have abused her office or was involved in any activity during her tenure that presented a conflict of interest.

While critics of the government have expressed scepticism, the move by the ACC is a major test to President Bio's fight against graft.

President Bio, as an opposition leader, campaigned on the platform of fighting graft and economic indiscipline, going ahead to win the 2018 elections on a Sierra Leone People's Party ticket.

Bio's administration has since waged war on graft, resulting in the arrest and prosecution of several former officials including a former vice president.

About two weeks ago, several houses belonging to former ministers were barricaded as authorities investigated how they were acquired.

Earlier, keys to a hotel under investigation were handed to the government after no one claimed ownership.

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