The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), on 13 January 2020, detained the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Alpha Timbo, and four others; Emily Kadiatu Gogra, Deputy Minister Basic and Senior Secondary School Education (MBSSE), Charles Kamanda, Permanent Secretary at MBSSE, Mamusu Massaquoi, Director of Nutrition at MBSSE and a woman known as Zainab, who was apprehended in Waterloo two-weeks ago. The five were invited to the Commission to answer questions related to bags of rice donated to the school feeding program by the Chinese government. The value of 50,000 bags of rice is approximately Le14 billion. ACC head, Francis Ben Kaifala, said the accused were granted bail of Le500 million each or property deeds equal to Le500 million. Success Sei Kamara, Deputy Public Relations Officer at the ACC, said the five people are being investigated for the missing rice. In a Cabinet meeting, it was decided that 49,000 bags of rice should be used for feeding students eligible for the school feeding program. The remaining 1,000 bags went to undisclosed recipients.
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Kaifala added the government also agreed that the Ministry of Agriculture should serve as the warehouse and the rice should be under the control of the MBSSE for onward transfer to World Food Program (WFP) for distribution. “They did not give that to WFP – the Ministry went ahead and distributed the rice,” he pointed out. Kaifala noted their investigation started when “Zainab” was intercepted by the ACC as she re-bagged 5,000 bags of the missing rice in Waterloo. “Zainab is not working for the Ministry, but our investigation shows that Zainab is connected with some people in the Ministry,” Kaifala explained. He said the Commission is looking into the decision reached by Cabinet and also if the donated rice reached the intended beneficiaries.
By Abdulrahman Koroma
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