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MoH Corruption Trial: Witness Reveals Paying Over D11 Million To Consultants He Never Meet 

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Health Ministry Officials accused of corruption

By Landing Ceesay 

Amadou Badjie, Finance Manager of the Health Promotion and Development Organization (HePDO), revealed in court that he authorized payments totaling D11,213,357.12 to four consultants engaged by his organization for studies on the Malaria Control Programme, despite never meeting them.

Testifying for the first time last week, Badjie detailed the vetting process for consultants involved in the Malaria Campaign, indicating that HePDO’s Board of Directors reviewed the consultants’ credentials.

Appearing as the Sixth Prosecution Witness (PW6) in a corruption trial, Badjie implicated three Ministry of Health officials: Balla Kandeh, Programme Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP); Omar Malleh Ceesay, Executive Director of HePDO; and Muhammadu Lamin Jaiteh, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health. They face charges of embezzlement and misappropriation of Malaria Control Programme funds during their tenures.

When asked about HePDO’s involvement in any Memorandum of Understanding with organizations, Mr. Badjie confirmed the existence of such agreements. He mentioned that in late 2018, HePDO entered into an MoU with the National Malaria Control Programme.

The purpose of this MoU was to facilitate HePDO’s management of the payment process for consultants engaged in a study related to Malaria. Among the listed consultants were Abdou Sallah, Mamud Ceesay, Basirou Phillot (PW5), and Muhammed Sissoko (PW4).

Mr. Badjie informed the court that he issued checks amounting to One million, four hundred and sixty-eight thousand, one hundred and seventy-eight bututs (D1,468,178.56) in the names of Abou Sallah and Mamud Ceesay respectively.

Furthermore, Mr. Badjie disclosed that he disbursed checks totaling Four million, one hundred and thirty-eight thousand, five hundred Dalasis (D4,138,500) in the names of Muhammad Sissoko and Bashirou Philot respectively.

The cumulative sum of these payments amounted to Eleven million, two hundred and thirteen thousand, three hundred and fifty-seven dalasis, and twelve bututs (D11,213,357.12).

“Did HePDO as an organization, maintain any bank accounts?” Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) A.M. Yusuf asked the witness.  

“Yes HePDO has various Bank Accounts in the country. HePDO has accounts with Ecobank, Access Bank and BSIC Bank,” Mr Badjie responded. 

Mr. Badjie further informed the court regarding the signatories associated with HePDO’s bank accounts, which include two of the accused individuals.

According to Mr. Badjie, HePDO maintains two accounts with Access Bank, with signatories listed as Omar Ceesay (2nd accused), Mr. Balla Kandeh (1st accused), Fanta Jatta Sowe, Lamin Manneh, Fatou Bittaye, and himself (Amadou Badjie).

One of these accounts functions as a General Account, while the other serves as a project-specific account.

Mr. Badjie explained to the court that the Project account is typically utilized by HePDO for depositing funds received from donors.

“The signatories you mentioned earlier, are they the same people who are signatories to the project account?” DPP Yusuf asked Mr. Badjie.

“No, they are not. The signatories to the project account are Mr Omar Ceesay (2nd accused), Mr Balla Kandeh (1st accused), Mr Lamin Manneh, and Fanta Jatta Sowe,” Mr Badjie told the court.  

Mr. Badjie said the second accused person (Mr. Omar Ceesay), was the Executive Director of HePDO. While Mr Balla Kandeh (1st accused person) and Fanta Jatta Sowe were Board Members of HePDO. 

“Between 2018 and 2020 as a Finance and Admin Manager of HePDO, are you aware of any cash inflow into the HePDO Project Account with Access Bank?” DPP Yusuf asked Mr. Badjie. 

“Yes, there was information of cash from P.C.U. to the project account. P.C.U. is the Project Coordinating Unit of the Ministry of Health. The total amount was D11, 480, 023. 04,” Mr. Badjie responded. 

When questioned about the consultants reportedly employed by HePDO, Mr. Badjie informed the court of his recognition of Abou Sallah and Mamud Ceesay. Regarding Bashirou Philot, Mr. Badjie stated that he encountered him on one occasion, and he also had a single meeting with Muhammad Sissoko at the Office of the DPP.

“How did you become familiar with Abu Sallah and Mamud Ceesay?” DPP Yusuf asked. 

“I can remember paying cheques on their names,” Mr. Badjie responded.

“Whose cheques were they?” DPP Yusuf, asked Mr. Badjie.

“They were cheques from HePDO because they (Abou Sallah and Mamud Ceesay) were employed as consultants,” Mr. Badjie told the court. 

“Can you remember how much they were paid?” DPP Yusuf asked again. 

“For Abou Sallah and Mamud Ceesay, they were each paid One Million, Four Hundred and Sixty Eight Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy-Eight, Fifty-Six Bututs (D1,468,178.56.)

Mr. Badjie also told the court that he made payments of four million, one hundred and thirty-eight Thousand, Five Hundred Dalasis (D4,138, 500) cheques on the names of Muhammad Sissoko and Bashirou Philot each. 

Mr. Badjie said these payments were made to these individuals on multiple occasions. 

“When were the payments made to them (Muhammad Sissoko, and Bashirou Philot), the year?”DPP Yusuf asked. 

“I cannot remember the specific dates, but it was between late 2018 to early 2020,” Mr. Badjie told the court. 

“How come you make payments to Muhammad Sissoko and Bashirou Philot at the time you have never met with them?” DPP Yusuf asked. 

“After when the cheques are prepared, Lamin Jarju, the former Deputy Program Manager of NMCP, will call him and inform him that the cheques are ready. He will come and pick it up from our office or ask that the cheques be taken to him. This is because, he was the one coordinating these studies, as he was the subject matter specialist at the time,” Mr. Badjie told the court. 

“Why did you issue cheques to them?” DPP Yusuf asked. 

“Because there was a signed contract between the two individuals and HePDO. For the contract there were payment schedules,” Mr. Badjie said. 

When inquired about specific payment dates, Mr. Badjie mentioned that although no dates were specified, there was a timeframe designated for conducting the studies. Mr. Badjie clarified that while he didn’t draft the contracts himself, to his understanding, there were indeed specified dates mentioned.

“How do you know the payments were due?” DPP Yusuf asked. 

“When there was an inflow into our account, I used to get an SMS alert. I will then go to the Executive Director to inform him that there is money in the account. I will then prepare the payment vouchers and the cheque for those names we have in the contracts. 

“The cheques will be taken to the Executive Director (Omar Ceesay) to sign as the First signatory. I will then call Mr. Balla Kandeh (1st accused), and wherever he is, I will go there, and he will sign the cheques. As stated before, the cheques are then taken to Lamin Jarju to inform him that the cheques are ready,” Mr. Badjie told the court. 

The case was adjourned to the 20th of May 2024 for continuation.

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