The ripple effects by Government action to slam a temporal ban on Timber Exportation is being felt by those in the industry, especially the down trodden, but has not resolved the problems that are associated with the trade. Those that are currently benefiting from the ban are the individuals that have laid claims on the trade as their principal source of economic activities and livelihoods which they have been living on for years now. It would interest the authorities of this Government to know that some big guns in the current administration, despite the ban are also still benefitting, whilst the poor and down trodden farmers have become the victims of Government action.
Some officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry are using the ban to make money and it may also sound very disturbing that while Alie Suma is on trial for timber fraud and other criminal offences, he is still reportedly playing significant role in extorting money from some timber exporters and traders.
At State House, some retired Government Ministers now acting on various capacities are also benefiting from Alie Suma’s mafiasco timber exploitation deal. Working hand in glove with Patrick Bani, new ideas and innovations are developed and nurtured as to how to raise money to leave an expensive lifestyle, to give the impression that they are the people with contact that can turn things around for the good.
Just recently, the sum of Le290 Million was raise under the pretext that the money would be used for the Tree Planting Exercise slated for June. This programme is always honoured by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to replace worn out trees with new ones to maintain forestation. Cartoons of fish and financial gifts were made to some of the retired ministers at State House to soften the pedals of the timber trial and influence the disbandment of the ban imposed by the President.
The process did not stop at State House where decision relating to the ban would be made, but also, it has reportedly extended to the Country’s Graft Commission. The network of the Timber Mafia Group is getting stronger by the hour in the Country all for the same crop of individuals to remain at the forefront of the Trade.
When news about the Le290 Million broke out that was collected from timber traders by the so-called Union of Timber Factories, Owners and Workers, it became a shocking news to some employees of the Ministries of Trade, Agriculture and Forestry. Some thought it was just a mere figment of imagination by this medium to assume that money was collected for the June Tree Planting Exercise when already a ban was in place, until documentary evidence became public, which showed that the request originated from the Assistant Director of Forestry Community to the Permanent Secretary and flows down to other Assistants Directors with a Strategic Leader named as Mr. William Bangura, the Director of Forestry.
The money was disbursed unofficially, using the tree planting programme as the front to collect the money, but since the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Sam Sesay promised to investigate, nothing significant has come out of it. In fact; inside sources have alleged that there has been no sign of investigation, which signals that probably the Minister had knowledge about the money, but it would be recalled that Dr. Sam Sesay informed this medium that he was shocked and perplexed when he learnt about it, and that he was not aware that such request or syndicate had been in existence in his Ministry and promised to investigate.
For fear that those involved would be summoned by the Anti Corruption Commission, the sum of Twenty Million (Le20, 000.000) was packaged and sent to some key investigators at the Anti Corruption Commission as part of their “usual protection fee”. Protection fees allegedly paid by some Government Officials to certain members of the Anti Corruption Commission, preferably the investigators have hugely contributed to the downward trend the Commission is heading for, with no credibility and fear any longer from the members of the General Public.
Despite the attractive pay and other benefits officially received, the Commission has lately become a mockery to the country with focus only to issue out press releases.
Many people especially those that know how the likes of Alie Suma, Patrick Bani and a handful of few foreigners have been described as the timber termites that destroyed the timber industry in the Country and afflicted hardship on the traders. They can invade any territory and offices and get what they want at anytime. Meanwhile, reports state that the list of debtors for both Alie Suma and Patrick Bani continues to gain heights. Their debtors include both private individuals and some Commercial Banks in the Country. The Chinese timber traders are also another set of people that are part of their debtor’s list.