Lead counsel representing the third defendant in the Hajj 2017 criminal trial at the High Court, Lawyer Hon. Hindolo M. Gavao yesterday threatened to subpoena the former President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to testify in defense of his former Vice President, Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh.
Lawyer Hon. Gavao made the threat during cross examination of the first prosecution witness, Mr. Joseph B. Noah, Senior Investigating Officer at the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Headquarters.
According to Lawyer Hon. H.M.Gavao, Dr. Ernest Koroma is supposed to come to court to testify on an alleged sixty thousand United States dollars payment made to the ACC on his instruction by the former Vice President, Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh.
Lawyer Hon. Gavao said that he would first send an invitation to Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to come to court and if he fails, he would apply to the Judge for a subpoena, ordering him to appear in person before the court.
Led in evidence by the ACC Prosecuting Counsel, Lawyer Calvin T. Mantsebo, Mr. Josepha B.Noah said he recognized and knows all the accused persons as past government officials of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) Party.
He said he recalled on the 24th August 2014, he was on duty at the ACC Headquarters in Freetown when an alleged mismanagement of funds meant for the 2017 Hajj with relevant documents was reported to the Commission. He was assigned the job to conduct an investigation into the matter.
As the lead investigator into the allegation, notices were sent by the ACC in connection to those Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) linked to the investigation.
During the investigation, the witness said he received several interrelated correspondence and authorization documents from the former Vice President’s office to the then Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, to the Managing Director and Acting Managing Director Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB).
These documents with one of them titled “facilitating of one Million Two Thousand United States Dollars to the 2017 Hajj National Coordinating Committee Account” dated between the 9th and the 17th August 2017 and another document from VP Victor Bockarie Foh to the Ministry of Social Welfare with the title “We need Five Thousand United States Dollars from the Hajj funds account at SLCB”, and authorization to transfer One Million Dollars to Sierra Leone’s former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia dated 3rd August 2017 were produced and tendered in court as exhibits.
The defendants including Sheku Sahid Kamara, Victor Bockarie Foh, Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray, former Minister of Mines and Mineral Resource, Mohamed Alie Bah former Minister of State in the VP’s Office, Ibrahim Fakeh Conteh and Abu Bakarr Carew appeared before Justice Reginald Fynn to answer to eight counts of criminal related indictments ranging from conspiracy to commit a corruption offence to misappropriation of public funds contrary to law.
The particulars on the indictment state that, the defendants on a date between the 1st January and 30th September 2017 in Freetown, being Chairman, Supervisor, Secretary and Members of the 2017 Hajj National Coordinating Committee, conspired together to engage and undertake a project without prior planning and misappropriated the sum of Three Hundred Million Leones, funds donated to the Government of Sierra Leone for the benefit of Sierra Leoneans intended to perform the 2017 Hajj.
It was also alleged that, the first accused person, Sheku Sahid Kamara misled the ACC by making a statement that public funds to the tune of Sixty Thousand United States Dollars was handed over to the second defendant, Victor Foh, whilst in actual fact it was Eighty Thousand United States Dollars.