The Sierra Leone Library Board has demoted and suspended three workers: Salieu Turay, Brima Kamara and Maude Hanciles for unprofessional malpractice over the distribution of books to schools countrywide.
Salieu Turay was demoted from his substantive position as Deputy Chief Librarian to the position of Principal Librarian with effect from 1st July 2010; Brima B Kamara was demoted from his substantive position of Senior Librarian to the position of Librarian with effect from 1st July 2010 and Maude Hanciles also demoted from her substantive position of Administrative Assistant to the position of Library Officer with effect from 1st July 2010.
The three were also suspended without pay for two months with effect from 1st May 2010.
Addressing a press conference at the Sierra Leone Library, Chairman of the Board, Magnus John explained that during deliberations at Board meeting it was unanimously agreed that four accused staff members were responsible for the missing books by virtue of their respective status and responsibilities.
The Board Chairman noted that the fourth staff member as a new staff was considered to have been working under the orders of senior members of staff involved in the distribution exercise. Therefore a warning letter was issued to him.
Magnus John further stated that the Board received four container-loads of books between May and October last year which were donated by Children International of the USA for distribution to schools countrywide.
The Chairman noted that following the distribution exercise for which distribution lists were prepared and a report sent to Children International it became apparent to some Board Members that the distribution lists lacked transparency.
Mr. John further explained that on January 25th 2010 an emergency Board meeting was held during which the Board highlighted discrepancies discovered from a few ‘tested’ schools between information provided on the lists about the books given to schools and the amount acknowledged as having been received by the beneficiaries so listed.
He averred that the Board decided to appoint an investigating team to look into any professional irregularities that may have resulted from the distribution of such books and at the same time suspend Salieu Turay and Brima B Kamara the two protagonists in the distribution exercise. The four lists he said indicated that as many as 400 schools benefited from the exercise involving the distribution of over 40 thousand books.
By 2nd February, he explained that an independent investigating team of four had been contracted by the Board to look into the distribution exercise carried out by staff as a result of concerns raised by the Board members.
The Chairman maintained that the investigation lasted until April 8th when the report was signed and handed over to the Board, adding that the team reported that they visited 34 schools, for which the number of books allocated amounted to 10,555.
The number of books received by the school was 3,109 with a short fall of 7,446, he stated. Mr. John further reiterated that the Board met again on 12th April and as advised in the report asked all four members involved in the distribution exercise to account for the number of missing books which was in excess of 70%. Lack of satisfactory reply from any of the four staff led to a further Board meeting on April 29th during which the decision was taken to suspend and demote the three members of staff.
By Abibatu Kamara