By Lansana Fofanah.
The former Procurement Officer in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation who is now the Chief Executive Officer of the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA), Ibrahim Brima Swarray yesterday testified before the Justice Biobele Georgewill’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) Room One at the Special Court Building how procurement procedures were flouted by the former government during the Ebola uutbreak in 2014.
Answering questions from both prosecuting and defense counsels, Mr. Swaray said that US$1, 050,000 United States Dollar contract that was awarded to Kingdom Security and Logistics for the procurement of 20 brand new Ambulances during the Ebola Outbreak which flouted procurement procedures.
He said that the contract could only be awarded under sole sourcing in an emergency situation, if there had been a company in the Ministry’s database with an outstanding track record. But the company that was awarded the contract had never procured anything for the Ministry and was not part of their database.
During his cross examination by Lawyer Yada Williams, representing the Director of Planning in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, Mr. Swaray said that out of the said amount for the contract, the sum of $780,000 United States Dollars was deposited into the bank account of Uni World General Trading LLC, instead of in the account of the company that was awarded the said contract.
He furthered that Mr. Kawusu Kebbay further traveled to Dubai where all monetary transactions in relation to the ambulances were carried out by him and upon his return to the country only sixteen ambulances were delivered, instead of twenty.
It therefore became clear that the involvement of Kawusu Kebbay as a middle-man in the transaction, hiked the prices of the ambulances. Mr. Swaray said that despite his position as Procurement Officer, he was merely a fixer who had no authority, but to follow instructions from the Permanent Secretary at the time and other senior management staff.
When asked by Lawyer Williams as to the recommendations of Parliament on the Ebola Report, Mr. Swarray said that the whole report which led Parliament to indict him for being responsible for missing funds was stage managed, but the action was overturned by the Attorney General at the time.
Lawyer Pa Momoh Fofanah, the legal representative for Kawusu Kebbay questioned Mr. Swarray’s statements against his client as being out of malice to crucify him before the Commission, a statement which was denied by him (Mr. Swarray) as he was doing so in good faith to bring to light justice.
Another witness who was led in the witness box by State Counsel, Oladipo Robin Mason was a former employee of KPMG Auditing firm, Vidal Tunde Decker. In his testimony, Mr. Decker recalled an agreement reached in October, 2014 between his firm and the Government of Sierras Leone to audit financial and procurement management of government institutions in 2014.
Mr. Decker said that despite the willingness of KPMG staff on the field to perform the task freely as part of their corporate social responsibility, there was no cooperation from Ministries, Departments and Agencies as information requested were never forthcoming. He said that they have lived and are still doing the business of auditing in Sierra Leone for years, but had thought of pulling out of the country because they don’t want to dent their credibility.