It has been uncovered that the Petroleum Directorate (an Office under office of the President) rented its office at USD 145 thousand (over a billion of country’s currency) from Osho Coker, Secretary to the President.
This, our findings state, relates to sheer conflict of interest and no doubt a case for an imperative anti corruption probing.
Management of Petroleum Directorate, two years ago, rented the Emmanshola House at Third Road on Regent Road, Hill Station, for use as office space from the Secretary to the President for an unimaginable cost of USD 145,000 a year, with upfront payment of two years, and on expiry in 2016, made a second two years upfront payment- totaling USD 580 thousand (correspondingly six billion Leones).
That following the renting of the said house, two houses instead of three, were identified, with Emmanshola House as owned by the Secretary to President Koroma manipulatively selected, the result of which has seen the Directorate now making a total of four years payments (of two years upfront each), costing USD 580 thousand at the expense of society.
A source also tells New Age that the Secretary to the President, Osho Coker, has had his son and a close family member respectively employed as Economist and IT officers at the Directorate, with both having unfettered and enjoying moments doing things at will.
An unconfirmed report states that the Oscian House, situated at Brook Street and rented to the Ministry of Energy, is property of the Secretary to the President.
The Petroleum Directorate, which of course is an office under office of the President, was established to purposely regulate and supervise petroleum oil and gas operations in the country.
It is also having an account at Skye Bank, with a whooping sum of USD 20 million, but as it stands, Director General, Raymond Kargbo, seems lavishly and with utter discount, spending money of the organization just like that.
That DG Raymond Kargbo is certainly Sierra Leone’s highest paid public servant.
He is said to have also been receiving hundreds of millions as rent allowance and has had free time spending thousands of United States dollars on overseas travelling trips at will.
His current salary, we are told, amounts to Le 139 million (gross) with a net/ take home at Le 102 million.
As at year ending 2016, his salary was little over Le 80 million (net) but was increased to 40%, making him now earning Le 102 million every month.
This, reports revealed, triples salary of President Koroma who is country’s commander-in-chief and fountain of honour.
Many say salary paid the Petroleum DG is no doubt in opposition with the Sierra Leone economy, which is driven by donors and now facing a meltdown, the result of which has compelled the announcement of last year’s austerity measures.
Sparkling revelations have it also that as at years 2014, 15 and 16) shortly after it was discovered that oil found in Sierra Leone is of less commercial value, and by extension, forcing companies previously showing investment interests pulling-out, the Directorate has practically generated any income and was of no commercial importance, rather left to conditionally rely on finances years generated.
Being an office under Office of the President, experts say, it is indeed a complete conflict of interest renting a house owned and belonging to the Secretary to President and at the same time supervising operations of the Directorate.
To this, however, has ignited concerns and of course a call on the Anti-Corruption to investigate officials of the Directorate and of Office of the President too.
It is told that the DG recently made an oversea trip and was caught purchasing his traveling ticket at the cost of USD 7000 (comparably fifty million Leones).
The misfortune believed to be happening at the Petroleum Directorate, concerned citizens say, has raised an anxiety of unease and are calling for a probe on how monies are spent by the Directorate and of office of the President respectively.
Even though the published 2015 audit report made no mention about the Petroleum Directorate, allusions are that there are damning disclosures on how finances are used and how procurement processes, in particular, the rented office space (one belonging to the Secretary to President) were violated.
Two are also recently dismissed by the Directorate on grounds of gross misconduct (breach of trust, breach of confidentiality, professional misconduct, disclosure of official documents and correspondence between the Petroleum Directorate and its clients to the print media), with letter of dismissal copied the Secretary to the President.
This, however, has sparked a wave of discontentment in minds of concerned citizens that indeed the rented office space, (property of Secretary to the President), portrays absolute conflict of interest- corruption.
When NEW AGE contacted the Communication Director in the Office of the President, Jara Kawusu Konteh, he said the Directorate followed the right process in renting the house of the Secretary to the President.
He however did not say anything concerning the whooping salary of the DG. He admits nonetheless that the son of the Secretary to President, Femi Coker, is an employee of the Directorate but claimed he is one of few Petroleum Economists in Sierra Leone.