By Mama A. Touray
The first prosecution witness in the alleged corruption trial of three Ministry of Health officials was on Monday cross-examined by Counsel LS Camara who stood for the three health personnel.
The three personnel; Balla Kandeh, Omar Malleh Ceesay, and Muhammadou Lamin Jaiteh are facing a total of 19 charges, including official corruption, failure to fulfill statutory duties, conspiracy to commit felony, economic crimes, forgery, and theft.
It could be recalled that prosecution witness one, Mrs. Satang B. Houma, the Financial Controller of the Project Coordination Unit at the Ministry of Health disclosed that a total of D11,470,023 was transferred to the HePDO bank account and that the payments were authorized by the Financial Controller and the Program Manager of the National Malaria Control Program once they verified the acceptability of HePDO’ssubmitted reports.
On the payment amounts, Mrs. Houma at the last adjourned date further disclosed that the first program received approximately $59,000.00, equivalent to around 2.9 million dalasi at the time.
“The second activity’s amount was D2.1 million, and the third activity’s amount was about D2. 86 million, and the fourth and final activity’s amount was about D3.5 million, and that’s the total of 11,470,023.00,” Mrs. Houma told the court.
On her cross-examination on Monday, she testified that the case was audited by the Internal audit at the ministry of health and it was done sometime in late 2020 to 2021 and that she could not recall the ending but the internal audit was from 2018.
She told the court that she has seen the draft audit report as the head of the finance department.
On whether she knows who will be in custody of the report, the witness said the final internal audit report is given to the head of programme but can’t tell if that how it was done in this case.
Responding to if global fund has queried to the report the witness said “When the audited report was sent to global fund, they sent their local fund to do a further review of the report”.
Counsel Camara asked the witness if the report reviewed by Local funds was sent to global funds she said the normal process is that when a review is conducted the report is sent directly, but in this case she can’t state if that was done.
AfDO, she said has been a good partner to the ministry of health and that in 2018 HePDO was one of the sub sub-recipients in the implementation of the global fund grant, CRS and MRC.
CRS, she added was a sub-recipient which is higher grade than sub
– recipient and MRC was neither a sub recipient nor a sub subrecipient but was quick to state that an MOU was signed with MRC during the face of the grant implementation.
The matter has been adjourned for further cross-examination.