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Witness denies initiating procurement requisition for 2,500 bags of fertilizer

The Director of Crops at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), Henry Kargbo has testified that he never initiated the procurement requisition for the 2,500 bags of fertilizer in 2016. SW-11 said this on Wednesday 14 March, 2019 when he was reading his written statement that he made to the Commission of Inquiry Secretariat on diverse dates (1 & 5 March, 2019). Answering whether it is the responsibility of the end user to do procurement requisition as was testified to by SW-9 (Senior Procurement Officer (SPO), Francis Kaikai on 27 February, 2019), Kargbo replied saying that “the statement is not correct as he only provided technical advice on the type and specification.” Kaikai during his testimony stated that procurement procedures demands that the needy unit is the originating officer and that he said was prepared and signed by SW-11. “It was prepared by him and was brought for my signature” Kargbo responded. Looking at the initiation document for the supply and delivery of NPK 20:20:20, NPK 15:15:15 and UREA 46%, he said that he recognised it but was only copied on it. He further stated that on the one that mentioned NPK 20:20:20, even though he was copied he knew there was a problem with the specification. On whether he read the said document before signing, he replied “I did read it, but frankly I was not aware because I was expecting the SPO to have done due diligence by providing the correct specification of NPK 0:20:20 that he was given.” In June, 2016 the former Minister Monty Jones sent a letter to the former President Ernest Bai Koroma requesting for Executive Clearance for them to use the restrictive bidding process for the purchase of 60,000 bags of NPK 20:20:20 fertilizer. Kargbo said that he wasn’t aware of the content of that letter and insisted that the specification he gave was for NPK 0:20:20 and not NPK 20:20:20. At which point during the interview he was shown the procurement requisition for the three types of fertilizer which has the names of those who appended their signature on it. He testified to the fact that the document was signed by him, the Permanent Secretary Abdulai Koroma and the Chief Accountant Edward B. Kamara, and it was for NPK 20:20:20, NPK 15:15:15 and UREA 46%. Still on who made the requisition, Kargbo insisted that the SPO only made a request to him to provide specification of the fertiliser but before that the Executive Management Committee (EMC) of the Ministry through the ‘wisdom of the former Minister’ came up with the flagship programme to increase the production and productivity of rice and other crops. The specification he emphasised was done in writing and on whether the document was prepared before the procurement process he said he couldn’t tell, but that the moment the SPO requested he knew that they were in the process.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Friday March 15, 2019