Health Minister Did Nothing Wrong

20 November 2009 at 01:32 | 1284 views

By Moses Komrabai Koroma, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The Minister of Health and Sanitation Mr. Sheku Tejan Koroma who was recently relieved off his duties as Minister to Stand trial on corruption charges by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) did nothing wrong. The ACC charged Mr. Koroma(photo) to court on three counts of corruption related offenses ranging from deliberately using his office as minister to violate Procurement laws to failing to award contract to the lowest bidder. Count one of the ACC charges states that between the months of March and May 2009, being a public officer abused his office as minister in respect of the award of contract for the supply of medical consumables and reagents to the Ministry by improperly awarding the said contract to the Cardinal Investment Limited instead of Health Care Pharmacy. The latter was the lowest bidder and most responsive bidder on the recommendation of the Technical Evaluation Committee.

The second count which is more of a repetition of the first count is that the Minister abused his position as Minister by improperly awarding contract to Cardinal Investment Limited instead of Healthcare Pharmacy. The third count is also not different from the first two counts. The question many are asking today is where is the corruption? What did the Minister do wrong?

According to sources from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, there were eight lots in the said contract. The Technical Evaluation Committee recommended to the minister that Health Care Pharmacy won six out of the eight on the ground that they were the lowest bidder. The Minister refused stating the impossibility of one company fairly winning six bids out of eight from a single ministry at the same. Sources said he was concerned that the company may not be able to perform all the contracts satisfactorily and recommended that lot eight, which had to do with the supply of medical consumables and reagents be given to Cardinal Investment, which was the second lowest bidder. The Minister according to sources became even more reluctant to award the said contract the Health Care Pharmacy when he found out that the said company was owned by the Shallop brothers. The Shallop brothers own Imres Pharmaceuticals, Barachel International, Okar Agency, Mamba Enterprise, Davida Enterprise and over thirty more registered companies that they use to rip off the government and the people of this nation in connivance with procurement managers and Permanent Secretaries of various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The Minister’s reluctance according to sources was for a simple reason that Imres Pharmaceuticals one of the companies owned by Shallop was awarded a contract in a tune of One Million Six Hundred thousand dollars ($1,600,000.00) to supply a CT scan to Connaught Hospital to improve diagnostics capacity of the hospital. Imres supplied the equipment, only that it was an unworkable refurbished CT scan that is now covered in dust in a room at Connaught Hospital. Sources said the minister was furious that the Technical Evaluation Committee can award six more contracts to a company owned by the Shallops when they have not even solved the CT scan saga.

His decision not to award the contract to Health Care Pharmacy according to sources from the ministry did not go down well with Mr. Mohamed Kallon, the Acting Procurement Manager and Mr. E. B. Kamara, the Senior Permanent Secretary, both of whom had already telephoned Shallop and informed him that his company is the lowest bidder and hence winner of the contract. It is widely believed that these two had also taken money from Shallop and leaked the bidding information to him before the bids were even out. This in itself was against the procurement laws for a bidding information and contract information to be leaked to a bidding company ahead of the written award of contract. The procurement manager and his Permanent Secretary it is believed also advised the Health Care Pharmacy to take the Minister to the Anti-Corruption Commission and pledged their unwavering support to the company. To prove their loyalty to Health Care Pharmacy, they actually went to ACC and testified against the Minister. Our sources at ACC disclosed Kallon’s testimony in which the procurement manager claimed that the Minister wanted to fire him and did not listen to anything he told him. He just did what he wanted because he was the Minister.

The poor Minister who acted in the good faith of this country and his Ministry has now being relieved off his duty as minister to stand trial for corruption charges conspired by selfish individuals within his Ministry and the ACC itself.

One senior professional in the ministry disclosed that the biggest problem they have in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation is the administrative wing of the Ministry. “These people award contracts, which are almost always not performed satisfactorily and they have turned themselves into millionaires from doing just that and at the end of the day, we the professionals get the blame. We are so much looking forward to the establishment of the Health Service Commission, which I hope will get these crooks out of here”, he ended.

Tejan Cole and his team really need to tell the people of this country who should have really been charged with corruption in this case. The Shallop brothers who have 37 registered companies they use to bid for contracts, The Ag. Procurement Manager and the Permanent Secretary of the Technical Procurement Evaluation Committee of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, who leaked bidding information to Health Care Pharmacy, putting the other companies at a disadvantage to win the bids, or the Minister who simply refused to award contract to a company based on the poor track records of its owners with his ministry. Do Tejan Cole and team want to tell this nation that the Shallop brothers have also infiltrated the ACC so much that it will rush to charge a minister to court for corruption on the grounds of refusing to award contract to a company owned by the Shallop brothers?