By Hawa Amara
Four accused persons were yesterday remanded at the maximum security prison on Pademba Road by Magistrate Komba Kamanda for allegedly clearing forest land at Sugar Loaf Mountain, Regent village, without lawful authority.
The accused: Mohamed Koroma, Osman Koroma, Amara Edward and Mohamed Thoronka were arraigned on two counts of deforestation contrary to section 28(1) of the Forestry Act of 1988.
The prosecution alleges that the accused persons on Sunday 13 April, 2014, at Sugar Loaf forest, Regent village, in Freetown, were found clearing the land, taking stone, granite, and cutting down branches, without lawful authority.
Defence counsel F.B. Conteh applied for bail on behalf of his client stating that the accused were ordinary Sierra Leoneans and that they are not of flight risk if granted bail. He stated that the accused persons have reliable sureties to enter their cognizance.
However, police prosecutor, Inspector S. Conteh vehemently objected to the bail application, and stated that the offence for which the accused are arraigned is very serious. He stated that deforestation causes serious environmental hazards in the country, including flooding in the city during the raining season.
In his ruling, Magistrate Kamanda refused the accused bail on the grounds that the offences the accused persons are charged with are very serious. He said people should not been seen cutting down trees in the protected areas, because deforestation causes disasters to occur.
Magistrate Kamanda also stated that at the adjourned date the prosecution must produce witnesses in order to expedite the matter.
In another development in the same court, Magistrate Kamanda also remanded one Mohamed Jalloh a.k.a. Tiktak and Mohamed Kargbo a.k.a. Sunkoh at the Pademba Road prison for allegedly carrying offensive weapons and loitering with intent to commit a felony.
The accused persons were arraigned on two counts of carrying a weapon without lawful authority contrary to section 16(9) of the Public Order Act No.46 of the 1965 and loitering with intent contrary to section 8 of the Public Order Act No46 of 1965.
The prosecution alleged that on Monday 7 April 2014 the first accused (Jalloh) was found carrying an offensive weapon, to wit a kitchen knife, without lawful authority, while the second accused person (Kargbo) on 8 April 2014, at Lumley Roundabout, was found loitering with intent to commit a felony.
Witnesses were absent to testify, thus the matter was adjourned to a later date, when the prosecution will open their case.