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Sierra Leone News:Parliament denies allegation of misuse of public funds

MPThe Sierra Leone Parliament denied allegations that it received 120 billion Leones over the past five years, and misused public funds. The allegations were made last week in a press release by Abdul Fatorma of the Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI), and were disseminated in print and online media.
Responding to the allegations at a press conference on Monday, Parliament provided data on how much money it’s received  specifically the Constituency Facilitation Fund and Constituency Development Fund — between 2010 and 2016. According to this data, Parliament received a total of 47 billion, 89 million and 667,028 Leones during this period  significantly less than the 120 billion alleged by Fatorma.
The Head of Communication for Parliament of SL Cyril Juxton- Smith, says the allegations are very serious because people believe what they read in the media.
Ambassador Alieu Kanu, head of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) of Sierra Leone, said journalists should act more responsibly and check their facts before publishing. He said inaccurate stories can have an international impact, including on the United States and European countries that donate to Sierra Leone.
He said Parliament will see if they can introduce some controls over social media, claiming some of what’s posted there goes against the national interest of Sierra Leone.
According to Deputy Speaker of Parliament Chernor Bah, an internal Parliament investigation found that Fatorma’s allegations were not based on interviews with MPs, despite his claims. “We’re yet to see the research that was conducted,” Bah said. Bah criticized Fatorma for making the allegations without first checking with Parliament, adding that Parliament always encourages members of the public and journalists to come with any questions or concerns they might have.
Majority Leader of Parliament Ibrahim Bundu promised that if any MPs are found guilty of enriching themselves at the expense of the people will be punished. “No Member of Parliament will go scot free,” he said.
According to Bah, the whereabouts of Fatorma are unknown  it’s unclear if he is even the country.
Kanu said there is the possibility of future punitive action from Parliament, though it’s still too early to say.
By Chetanya Robinson
Tuesday August 09, 2016

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