Sierra Leone's former VP, ex-Mines minister arrested for corruption

Friday July 06 2018

Sierra Leone's former President Ernest Bai Koroma. His administration is accused of rampant graft. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Former Sierra Leone vice president Victor Bockarie Foh and ex-Mines and Mineral Resources minister Minkailu Mansaray were on Thursday arrested on charges of corruption.

The two officials served under ex-president Ernest Bai Koroma until April 4 when the new administration led by President Julius Maada Bio took over.

The Anti-Corruption Commission chief Francis Ben Kaifala said the two will be charged with mismanagement of public funds including misappropriation of money to help poor Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca last year.

Mr Mansaray was the head of the Hajj committee set up by the government while Mr Foh oversaw the affairs of the team.

Mr Foh is accused of illegally receiving $80,000 of the money allocated for Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage.

"This is a war against corrupt officials," Mr Kaifala said during a press briefing in Freetown on Thursday.


He said the agency is also pursuing officials at the National Minerals Agency, a major mining firm Sierra Rutile, and officers at the National Social Security and Insurance Trust.

Mr Kaifala's announcement was made a day after another commission set up by President Bio released a damning report that alleged that corruption was rampant under president Koroma's government that was ran on "tribal and regional bias".

The report presented to the President on Wednesday recommended the setting up of a commission of inquiry to investigate all former government officials implicated in corruption and possible prosecution of the culprits.

Mr Koroma, who ruled from 2007 until April, has denied the allegations saying it is a malicious attempt to smear his image.

Anti-graft crusade

President Bio pledged to tackle corruption and revive the economy during his campaigns.

He reiterated his commitment to the anti-graft crusade when he received the report on Wednesday.

“If we do not fight and win the fight against corruption we are preparing this nation for another problem that will take us down; corruption is at a level that can destroy this nation,” he said.

Mr Kaifala said the anti-graft agency would study the presidential commission report.

He added that more people would be indicted over the next month and that the agency would reopen investigations into allegations of misuse of funds during the response to the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak.

Mr Kaifala was appointed last month to replace Ady Macauley who the current government accuses of failing to pursue several graft cases.