Hajj Gate Scandal… More Documents Tendered In Court

 

By Ibrahim Sahid Kamara

Led in evidence by the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) lead Prosecutor, Calvin T. Manstebo Esq., several documents were tendered at the Freetown High Court No. 1 by an ACC Senior Investigation Officer, Joseph B. Noah with regards correspondences and transactions at the EcoBank, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB), Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA) and in Saudi Arabia during the 2017 pilgrimage to Mecca.

Testifying in court, Joseph B. Noah said notices were served to EcoBank, SLCB and MSWGCA using the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 for records in the Commission’s possession relevant to the investigation respectively responded to the notice served to them.

The ACC witness further mentioned a copy of notice that was served to the former Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, and also copies of bank accounts relating to the first accused, Sheka Sahid Kamara aka Shekito and also a bank statement.

The witness said the accounts were at the Ecobank operated by both the said accused and his wife. He said that one of the accounts reflected Le300, 000,000.00 (Three hundred million Leones) and the other reflected Le250, 000, 000. 00 (Two hundred and fifty million Leones).

Joseph B. Noah furthered that two other sets of bank statements were also received from the SLCB in which one of the accounts was operated in Leones with the inscription “National Hajj Committee” while the other account was operated in United States Dollars with inscription “National Hajj Coordinating Committee”.

The ACC investigator also made mention of correspondences that were exchanged between the Sierra Leone Hajj Committee in the former Vice President’s Office and the Permanent Secretary of MSWGCA; those from the former Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and the Permanent Secretary; and others between the MSWGCA and the Acting Managing Director of SLCB, and also series of documents from the former Vice President’s Office, MSWGCA and the Sierra Leone Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

One of the defence lawyers of the accused, Lawyer Lansana Dumbuya made several submissions to the Bench, stating that some of the pages on the indictments were missing, one duplicated and called for attached documents to be separated.

In his ruling, Justice Reginald Fynn took cognizance of the missing document, saying that they had engaged the ACC on that. He also agreed for the separation of attachment and therefore urged the prosecution to look at the document carefully to pick out the duplicated one.

The ACC Prosecutor requested the Bench for an adjournment to further lead evidence in the witness.

In his response, Lawyer Dumbuya reminded the prosecution that even though they wanted to go with the matter speedily, they should ensure that they serve the defence team with the statement of the witnesses.

Also in his ruling, Justice Fynn ordered the prosecution to extend all the witnesses’ statements to the defence and not to treat the defence like a semi ambush.

The matter comes up on Friday 28th September.