March 10, 2021

Sierra Leone: First Lady, Minister Accused of Graft

The government of Sierra Leone is facing harsh criticism concerning corruption allegations made against its first lady and a senior minister.

President Julius Maada Bio’s administration is under pressure to act after reports of his wife, Fatima Maada Bio, misspending public funds to the tune of $3 million, emerged in late January.

The first lady admitted to receiving the funds, but not on their misspending, which was allegedly used to pay for flights, hotel stays and furniture. The country’s anti-corruption agency announced in February that they would be investigating her office.

In the same month, local news outlets alleged that Chief Minister David John Francis had approximately $1 million in “irregular” government spending to his name.

Both of the accused have denied any wrongdoing.

President Bio now faces an embarrassing situation, as he was elected in 2019 on the promise to investigate the corruption that occurred under his predecessor, Ernest Bai Koroma, who governed from 2007 to 2018.

No government officials have yet commented on the allegations.

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