October 1, 2022

The nightwatch newspaper is privy to official correspondences, from both the Speaker of the House of Parliament and the Clerk, revealing the usurpation by the Ministry of Finance the constitutional responsibilities of the National Property and Government Asset Commission by solely undertaking the process of auctioning properties on demurrage.
The Minister’s action contravenes section 73 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, which makes Parliament the supreme authority of the state and section 5 (1) ( e) of the National Assets and Government Commission Property of 1990, which makes the Commission the sole authority to report to and to also dispose of all government assets and property.
A letter dated 28th December, 2018 from the Speaker of Parliament has queried the National Assets and Government Property Commission to explain the circumstances leading to the Ministry of Finance solely constituting an Auction Committee and the release of Gazzette Notice No 480 in Extraordinary gazette Vol CX LIX No. 91 of 7/12/2018 for the auctioning of medical and educational goods and sixteen cars from over ninety seven (97) containers.
The National Government Assets and Property Commission, including the Parliamentary Oversight Committee, headed by Hon Carew, had approached the Ministry of Finance since January, 2019 in order to get them to understand that the Ministry had no mandate to constitute an Auction Committee and originate a gazette to auction goods on demurrage, but all efforts failed and the Minister had gone ahead in constituting over 12 auctioneers, who are currently auctioning the properties.
The Clerk of Parliament, in a letter dated 10th January,2019, had, on behalf of Parliament, halted the process and called on the Minister of Finance to comply. That compliance includes fully involving the Assets and Government Property Commissioner and also return all the medical and educational materials on demurrage to the Ministries of Education and Health, respectively, to aid the respective sectors.
The Clerk made this direction against the backdrop that the Ministry of Finance had released the gazette dated 7th December, 2018 for the subsequent auctioning of the goods.
The Minister of Finance has defied all the instructions of Parliament and usurped the constitutional mandate of the National Government Assets and Property Commission and the oversight mandate of Parliament to oversee the auction of goods on demurrage.
It is now reported that the Minister is currently going ahead with the auction process, and that 97 containers, including sixteen (16) cars, which were part of the goods on demurrage based on the letter from the General Manager Port addressed to Parliament and the Commissioner National Government Assets and Property Commission, have been returned to their original owners with no objection from the Government Asset Commission as provided for by law.
Why is that a whole Finance Minister would be so exuberant in bypassing all set procedures pertaining to the auction of goods in the country, to a point that he would even defy instructions by Parliament to turn over educational and health materials on demurrage to the relevant ministries with a view to support the critical sectors of the health and education?
We are calling on the Anti Corruption’s czar to look into the overzealousness of our Ministry of Finance, who has hijacked the constitutional functions of the Asset Commission and Parliament, the supervisory body. He has gone ahead to auction these goods, including the circumstances leading his solely constituted Auction Committee to return 97 containers to the owners when they were already on demurrage.
This action speaks volume about a government that is committed to fighting corruption and maintains the rule of law.