Rules Of Evidence Or No Rules Of Evidence -COIs To Rule

 

By Sheik Sesay

Lawyer Ady Macauley yesterday, 11th February, 2019 represented two former Ministers in the erstwhile All People’s Congress (APC) led administration in the persons of Alfred Palo Conteh and Madinatu Rahman in the ongoing Commissions of Inquiry.

The former Commissioner of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) submitted that his clients did not show up because they only knew about their appearance in twenty-four hours and for the fact that there is an absence of the ‘rules of evidence.’

The presiding Judge and Chief Commissioner, Biobele Georgewill however reminded Ady Macauley of the 2007 High Court rules that has been published by the Commissions of Inquiry (COIs) which they are using.

Oladipo Robin Mason, who is representing the state, also reminded Ady Macauley of the legality of the COIs passed by Parliament. He was asked to serve the inquiry on which it would be ruled.

Ady Macauley however asked for an adjournment to Thursday 14th February, 2019, which was granted for re-appearance.

The former head of Ebola Outreach Committee (EOC), Dr. Bash Taqi also appeared before Justice Biobele Georgewill’s Commission of Inquiry without a legal representation. He was advised by the Chairman to seek the services of a lawyer to represent him.

Witnesses on the ongoing COIs also testified that billions of Leones were used during the Ebola outbreak without any supporting documents. This, according to report, is in relation with inquiries into the National Emergency Response Centre (NERC) funds during the outbreak of the deadly virus. NERC was led by Major (Rtd) Alfred Palo Conteh under the supervision of the Office of the President.

Archivist for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Brima Thullah was also in the dock to submit Asset Declaration Forms for Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other government appointees that served between 2009 and 2018. The said forms were filled upon entering office.

According to Brima Thullah, the Ministers and all other government officials are yet to submit their exit asset declaration forms, which is due in April, this year.

Lead State Counsel, RB Kowa tried to persuade Justice Bankole Thompson to put two witnesses forward that would give the salary scale of the former President, Vice President and other government appointees, as well as the salary structure of the public sector.

But Defence Counsel, Lansana Dumbuya is contesting on the basis of jurisdictional grounds.

Kowa submitted his second witness, Raymond Coker, who is the Deputy Accountant General in the Ministry of Finance. The Deputy Accountant General, submitted the payroll of the erstwhile President, Vice President and other government appointees.

Lead State Counsel of Commission No. 1 submitted the payroll as an exhibit, whilst the Lead Defence Counsel, Lansana Dumbuya protested that his clients should have received the documents beforehand.

At Commission No. 3, Justice William Attuba is expected to resume today to give a ruling on whether the Commission should sit or not. Lead Defence Counsel Lawyer Sorie Africanus Sesay argued that the Commission should not sit on grounds that the rules of evidence were not in place as prescribed by Section 150 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, whilst Lead State Counsel Musa Mewah argued that the defence should go to the Supreme Court to raise the matter.

At Commission No. 1, Oladipo Robin Mason representing the state called another witness, Ibrahim Swaray, the Chief Executive of the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA), who served as Head of Procurement in 2014 at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

The Ebola outbreak occurred in May 2014 and as part of his testimony, Ibrahim Swaray said he was not involved in several key procurement decisions of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation under Madam Miatta Kargbo.

Amongst other things, the witness said his professional advice was not sought on the construction of the Ebola Treatment Centers in Port Loko that cost more than Le 2 billion.

He also denied having any knowledge on the decision to give the contract of building a 90-bed treatment center at Kerry Town that cost Le 1.75 billion. The aforementioned contracts, he said, were awarded to CL Group.

Mr. Swaray said he was also not involved in the procurement of 20 ambulances as, according to him, the then Minister decided to send one Kawusu Kebbay to Dubai to negotiate on behalf of the country, thereby breaking procurement procedures in the process.