Sheiku Tejan Koroma, Sierra Leone’s former Minister of Health and Sanitation who was earlier indicted for corrupt practice, was today 11 March convicted by the High Court presided over by Justice Mary M Sey of the following offences:
Abuse of office contrary to Section 42(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008; abuse of Position contrary to Section 43 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008; and wilfully failing to comply with laws and procedures and guidelines relating to procurement, tendering of contracts and management of funds, contrary to section 48 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008.
I think this is the first major specimen to be caught in the web of President Ernest Koroma’s ‘zero tolerance on corruption.’ In fact, I think it’s the first of its kind in West Africa.
The forme minister was indicted in November 2009 by the Anti-Corruption Commission ACC for allegedly abusing his office and his position by overturning the decision of the Evaluation Committee and the Procurement Committee in failing award of a contract to supply the Ministry of Health Laboratory reagents to the most responsive bidder following a call for bids to be submitted in October 2008.
It was also alleged that the minister’s conduct led to ‘inordinate delay in the award of the contract causing grave consequences for the bidder and the Ministry.’
The ACC further claimed Mr. Koroma failed to carry out the ruling of the Independent Procurement Review Committee when ordered by them to award the contract to the most responsive bidder, following the bidder’s complaint to that body.
In delivering judgment, the Honourable Justice Mary Sey stated that she could not accept the submission of the Defence and did not find the Accused a truthful witness. The judge found it hard to believe that an intelligent man and a minister would simply sign, without reading, anything put before him. She was satisfied that he knew he was doing something wrong when he imposed his will on the procurement process against the advice of members of his staff. He did it anyway because he was a Minister – abusing his office.
The accused was sentenced to a term of 5 years imprisonment on all counts to run concurrently or in the alternative to a fine of Le50,000,000 (about $4,000) for each of the three counts to be paid immediately .
The accused was represented by C. F Edwards Esq. and H. G. Ngevao whilst Glenna Thompson represented the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Speaking after the conviction, ACC Commissioner, Abdul Tejan-Cole welcomed the judgment and noted that it was further evidence that there were no sacred cows in the fight against corruption.