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Sierra Leone News: Commission of Inquiry Former Permanent Secretary of Health testifies 

The former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Sadiq Kapuwa, on Tuesday 19th February 2019, appeared before Commissioner Biobele Georgewill of the Commission of Inquiry, to testify about transactions during the Ebola crisis. The former Permanent Secretary, who is the newly elected Paramount Chief of Nongowa Chiefdom in Kenema District said, he was appointed as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation on 1st April 2014 and served till November of the same year. Kapuwa noted that he was supposed to be the vote controller and administrative head of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, but his work was overshadowed by the setting up of the Emergency Operation Centre. “The EOC took over my functions as Permanent Secretary and my function became irrelevant,” he said.   The former PS said the then Minister of Health and Sanitation, Miata Kargbo, who is a Person of Interest to the Commission, had three colleagues with her in the Ministry that she brought from the Strategic Policy Unit of State House. Kapuwa said the Minister regularly discussed official business with them before relaying information to him as Permanent Secretary. “As long as these three persons were there I was never allowed to see the Minister with respect to official issues,” he said. The former PS said the ambulances that were bought during the Ebola virus was done by the Ministry and not by him as PS of the Ministry. The witness said he was not part of the team that went to Kerry Town to inspect the site for possible treatment centre hosting. He added that the delegation was headed by the Case Management Director Dr. Donald Bash Taqi, and the contract was later awarded to CM Group. “I only met the contractor at the Public Accounts Committee,” where he was asked to go with documentation with regards to the Ebola ambulances. Kapuwa said the National Public Procurement Authority warned the Ministry to only use reliable contractors in their database to avoid any negative repercussions. During cross-examination by Yada Williams, counsel for former Health Minister, Miatta Kargbo, the witness said that exceptional measures needed to be taken in order to fight the Ebola scourge in 2014. Kapuwa added that normal procurement would take a length of time, as there was no adequate time to fight the virus. He said the EOC was in charge of the Ebola operations lamenting the fact that the EOC was based outside of the Ministry. The witness said as the Minister of Health and Sanitation was sitting as the chair of the EOC, adding that the President would chair during the weekends. The witness added that the EOC was comprised of the President, Minister of Health, Chief Medical Officer, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Director of Case Management, WHO rep. amongst many other experts and professionals.

MJB/19/2/19

By Mohamed J. Bah

Wednesday February 20, 2019.

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