The intention of the newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security Dr. Monty Jones to transform the sector and enable it increase production and productivity is currently receiving setbacks due to the actions of some government employees perceived as Judases.
These employees have succeeded over the years to establish a cabal with the aim of siphoning public funds. Even though Professor Monty Jones is creating blockades to prevent their unpatriotic actions and usher in sanity to the Ministry, the likes of the Chief Agriculture Officer and co. are bent on waging war on each other in a bid to sabotage the efforts of the Professor Monty Jones and those serving as foot soldiers of the Ministry.
Report indicates that Auditors from Statistics Sierra Leone are also currently finding it difficult to penetrate and get the necessary cooperation from the Chief Agriculture Officer, Mr. Francis Abdulrahman Sankoh, who is allegedly deeply connected to allegations of operating a secret account at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank called “World Food Plan Account”.
The attitude of dodging the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament for reasons only known to the Chief Agriculture Officer has been extended to Auditors who are yet to get the required information relating to the operations of the World Food Day Plan Account.
Following several requests from the Minister and the Auditors that have been turned down by the Chief Agriculture Officer, report states that the Ministry’s Chief Accountant, Mr. Edward B. Kamara has decided to save his neck from the hook by exposing the alleged dubious acts of the Chief Agriculture Officer in a letter addressed to the Permanent Secretary dated 31st March 2016.
The letter amongst other thing states that “the Chief Agriculturist has been secretly operating another Ministry’s Account called “World Food Day” with Account Number 001-105810-10-00-01 at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, Siaka Stevens Street, since 2011 to date making withdrawals at will without accounting for monies and the sources of credits to that account are not known.”
“Even when the Hon. Minister has requested for the Bank Balances of all Accounts operated by the Ministry, the Chief Agriculture Officer has refused to disclose the “World Food Day Account” until it was stumbled upon and the Account Number, Name and Bank revealed. The cheque book to the Account is in the custody of the Chief Agriculture Officer,” the letter states.
The Anti-Corruption Commission has however shown great interest in investigating the issue. Sources close to the Commission have intimated this medium that the Intelligence Unit of the Commission is currently perusing documents that have been made available to the Commission and would recommend accordingly as and when the work is accomplished.
When contacted on Tuesday week in his office, the Chief Agriculture Officer, Francis Abdulrahman Sankoh has accepted that the World “Food Day Plan Account” is in existence but he is not the sole signatory to it. He said withdrawals were made with the consent of the former Minister Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay and disclosed that the account was established to finance World Food Day Events that are not funded by Non-Governmental Organizations.
“I sign together with the Permanent Secretary and Director of Extension,” he said. What he did not disclose to this medium is why he did not submit the required information about the Account to the Minister and other key stake holders at the Ministry.