Former Accountant at the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Bashiru Kamara has testified at the ongoing Commissions of Inquiry presided over by Justice Biobele Georgewill that the All Stars musical group headed by Milton Coker aka Colabo, received Le 500 million from the Youth in Drainage Clearing project’s fund. He, however, denied knowledge on why the said colossal amount of money was given to the group, but referred the commission to the Project Coordinator, Ibrahim Koroma, whose whereabouts are still unknown.
Bashiru Kamara said a total of twenty five billion, six hundred and eight million, nine hundred and nineteen thousand, six hundred Leones (Le25, 608,919,600) was disbursed for the Youth in Drainages Clearing project at the Ministry of Youth Affairs.
The erstwhile accountant said he also served as an adviser to the Permanent Secretary on the financial management of the ministry and told the commission that on 23 January, 2018, Street Life Family received Le300 million, while the Music for girls received Le 50 million from the same fund, adding that Le 47.2 million was used to purchase tools and to pay 15 employees.
“Lawrence Bia S/L Limited received Le 100 million for the supply of assorted clearing tools. The same supplier was also given Le 94.5 million later for the purchase of similar tools,” he testified.
He revealed that withdrawals totaling to one billion Leones were done for part payment for four vehicles that were then distributed to the Permanent Secretary, Director of the Project, Field Manager and one to support the operations of the then Minister of Youth Affairs, Bai Mamoud Bangura. He said all the requests made by officials of the ministry were sent to the office of the Permanent Secretary, who in turn minuted it to the minister for approval.
Mr. Kamara told the commission that he and the Permanent Secretary were category ‘A ‘signatories, while the Project Manager and the Admin/Finance Officer were category ‘B’ signatories to the Youth in drainage clearing project account.
“To some extent, I did play a key role. I requested the Finance Officers of each project to prepare a cash book on their projects for the year. There are times I also request for explanation from them regarding payment they want to make on each project in order for me to prepare the annual account of the projects and send to the Permanent Secretary,” he said.
The witness presented exhibits to the commission indicating payment of stipends to 15 employees of the Youth in Fisheries project, award of contract for the supply of assorted clearing tools to Lawrence Bia S/L Limited and Bank statement of Youth in Drainage Clearing Project, which were funded by the government through the Road Maintenance Fund Administration. All of the exhibits were marked and documented for the commission’s record.
He said the debit balance for the project account as at 28 February, 2019,was a deficit of less than two million eight hundred and thirty-five thousand (-2,835,008.74) with a total debit balance of fifty-one thousand, nine hundred and fifty Leones (Le 51,950) interest overdraft.
Kamara stated that the opening balance of the Youth Village project as at 30th April, 2014, was Le 700 million inwards. He continued that the total amount of the project was four billion, three hundred and seventy-six million, nine hundred and twenty-five thousand, one hundred and seventy-four Leones and ten cents (4,376,925,171.10),adding that they used four billion, three hundred and fifty million, seven hundred and eighty-two thousand, nine hundred and nine Leones and fifty-two cent (Le 4,350,782,909. 52).
He further revealed that about Le 50 was given to Sylvanus A. Lusane (government Surveyor), and Le 56 million was given to God’s Time Enterprise in respect of payment for tools meant to clear the site.
The witness also revealed that Le 1 billion was given as compensation to Kabala stakeholders for the National Youth Village site as first installment and Le 56 million was paid for architectural drawings and Bill of Quantities for the National Youth Villages in Kabala and Mile 91, Tonkolili district, adding that payment was made for two years rent for the National Youth Village Office at Mile 91 but it was never occupied.