Auditor General’s Suspension…
One Year Gone Still No End In Sight
By Mohamed Konneh
Today marks exactly one year since the suspension of Sierra Leone Auditor General, Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce and her Deputy Mr. Tamba Momoh over allegation of misconduct. The country’s auditor general was sacked in a controversial decision weeks before the audit report was due on government’s financial activities in 2020.
Since the suspension “a special tribunal was set up by the Attorney General to investigate allegations of procurement irregularities, conflict of interest and professional misconduct.
Mrs. Lara Taylor Pearce and her Deputy, Mr. Tamba Momoh were accused of violating the Financial Management Act of 2016, the Fiscal Management and Responsibility Act of 2017 and the National Public Procurement Act, 2016. The recruitment of private audit firms by the Supreme Audit Authority did not follow procurement rules, according to reports.
Mr. Tamba Momoh was accused of being a member of several Boards of Directors of Government or Government Assisted Secondary Schools which fall under the audit mandate of Audit Service Sierra Leone. This accordingly is seen as a conflict of interest.
On the 8th of November 2021, the office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice wrote a letter to the Chief Justice and Chairman of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, quoting Section 137(5) of the country’s 1991 Constitution which they said makes provision for the suspension of Auditor General Lara Taylor-Pearce and her Deputy – Tamba Momoh.
A number of groups including civil continue to call for a speedy investigation but much is yet to be dome since her suspension alongside her deputy.
A statement put out during the period by the 50/50 Group state “The 50/50 Group notes with grave concern and utter dismay the sudden and indefinite suspension of the Auditor-General, Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce, and her deputy, Mr. Tamba Momoh, pending an “investigation”.
“Whilst we await the outcome of the investigation, the 50/50 Group would like to remind the government of the constitutional provisions that established the Office of the Auditor General and enshrined its independence, which safeguards the integrity and impartiality of that office which Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce and her team have exhibited over the years. However, it has not gone unnoticed that Mrs. Taylor-Pearce has been subjected to continuous harassment and intimidation.
“We wish to remind the government that the current Auditor General has an unblemished record both nationally and internationally. Therefore, we condemn any attempt to sully her reputation and integrity.
What is holding back the investigation is still unknown as the investigation into misconduct continue to drag on.