Although a letter from the National Protected Area Authority(NPAA) sent to Standard Times is demanding a retraction of the publication and an apology for what was being described as a baseless and unfounded allegations that triggered a publication captioned “Bad Management At NPAA: EU Demands EURO 394,000 Donor Fund”, however it is now becoming evident that contrary to the views of the author of the letter, evidence abounds that the issue that relates to the Euros 398,000 for the implementation of the REDD+ Project has remained unclear and absurd, which has led to the conclusion that the money was either being chopped or misappropriated by some officials of the National Protected Area Authority.

Kolleh Bangura

The disbursement was motivated by the fact that the European Union wanted to move forward the concept and see it grow for the benefit for all and sundry, therefore under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry this colossal sum was pumped into the project that turned out to be a disappointment and a free-for-all, especially those who were at the forefront of the REDD+Project which commenced in 2013 and suffered death until it was resurrected after the establishment of the National Protected Area Authority(NPAA).

The Act that produced the NPAA was the National Protected Area Authority and Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2012 and became operational in 2014.

The operationalization of the NPAA, though not part of the conspiracy to either chop or misappropriate donor fund saw the non-accountability and demise of the European Union funding Euros of 398,000. The responsibility or acceptance of this amount or how it went into thin air and not reflected into what it was meant for cannot be fully explained by any official in position of trust. It is for that reason the European Union is demanding a refund of the money.

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The funding agency had realized the undisputable need for the generation of funds through the REDD+ Project which would open doors and afford the NPAA the opportunity to generate the means to effectively manage the protected Areas and prevent any further deterioration, as it had already signaled so many shortfalls such as understaffing and capacity building to confront the many challenges. Therefore, there was every justification for the disbursement of the money by the European Union, not only in good fate but for the realization of the objective and the promotion of the establishment to make its presence meaningful and to enable it contribute significantly to the socioeconomic growth of the country.

Sadly, both the ambition and objective was not realized which prompted an audit and subsequent discovery of how the money was used other than its vital purpose for which it was disbursed.

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Meanwhile, two senior officials have been asked to step aside to allow an unfettered investigation to take place. Messr. Amos Kamara and Joseph Kamara have been asked to step aside.

In a letter dated 14th March, 2016 the NPAA has requested both officials to take an exit from the Authority. The letter reads, “I write with respect to the above subject matter. You will recall that you were seconded to the National Protected Area Authority (NPAA) in June 2015 to assist the establishment and operators of the NPA Authority. During this period you were managing EU Funds for the implementation of the REDD+Project.

However, following an audit ineligible expenditure worth Euros 398,000 were recorded” it went on, “For the Ministry to be able to undertake transparent investigation into the ineligible expenditure you are required to step aside until the investigations are completed. Your date of suspension is immediate”