Sierra Leone indicts Freetown mayor for graft


Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission has indicted the capital’s mayor on graft charges, officials said today, a week after accusations of bribery against the vice president’s office surfaced.

Freetown Mayor Herbert Akieremi George-Williams was charged alongside nine others with conspiracy to commit corruption and misappropriation of public funds, among other things.

The head of the government anti-graft commission said the timing of the indictment was not intended to divert public attention away from allegations of corruption in the vice presidency, as some local analysts have suggested.
“The indictment was forthcoming since last week,” commission chief Joseph Kamara told Reuters. “It has no bearing on the VP issue.”

When contacted by Reuters, George-Williams said he could not comment without consulting his lawyer.

A documentary aired last week by news broadcaster Al Jazeera alleged that officials in the office of Vice President Samuel Sam Sumana had accepted bribes from journalists posing as timber executives seeking an illicit logging deal.

Sumana has denied any wrongdoing through his spokesman.

Sierra Leone’s government said it was investigating the allegations, and President Ernest Bai Koroma said there will be no “sacred cows” in his administration as he seeks to root out corruption.

But the issue could be a tricky one.

Unlike a minister, who the president can fire, the vice-president can only resign or be impeached, a hazardous exercise with an election scheduled for next year.

A spokesman said Sam Sumana does not plan to resign. “He is staying in office,” spokesman Andrew Collier said.