After 6 months in detention without trial…April 22, 2015 By Hawa Amara
Adamu Eze and 10 co-accused persons were yesterday arraigned in court, almost six months after they were arrested in Kono and detained at the Male Correctional Centre on Pademba Road for allegedly obstructing the police and medical personnel in Koidu city, Kono district, who were on the verge of transporting a suspected Ebola patient, Eze’s mother, to a treatment centre.
The accused persons – Adamu Eze, Kalilu Fofanah, Emmanuel Gborie, Alie Bangura, Patrick Kamara, Muctaru Rogers, Aiah Komba, Tamba Tanda, Samuel Sahr Sandy, Karim Bayoh and Joseph Gborie – were arraigned at the Freetown Magistrates’ Court No.1 presided over by Magistrate Komba Kamanda on five counts of conspiracy, obstruction, riotous conducts, disorderly behaviours and malicious damage.
The matter is prosecuted by state counsels led by acting Director of Public Prosecution, Sulaiman A. Bah, and Alieu V. Koroma, A. Sheiku and N.B. Davies.
According to the prosecution, the accused on Tuesday, 21 October, 2014 along Post Office Road in Koidu city in the Tankoro Chiefdom, Kono district, Eastern Province, conspired with other unknown persons to obstruct police and medical personnel who were executing their lawful duty.
The prosecution informed the court that first accused (Adamu Eze) on the same date maliciously damaged a Yamaha motorcycle with registration No. SLP 754, valued Le6 million, being property of the Sierra Leone Police.
Lead State Prosecutor, Sulaiman A. Bah, informed the court that because of the absence of witnesses he was pleading for an adjournment. He also objected to bail on the grounds that the offence under which the men were charged are grave, as the accused persons had violated public emergency laws declared by the president as part of measures to stem the spread of the Ebola virus.
The accused persons were represented by defence counsels T.A. Jah, K.E. Foh and K.J. Saquee. Lead defence counsel, T.A. Jah, had applied for bail on behalf of the accused persons, submitting that his clients have been in detention for over six months and that they were only charged to court as a result of pressure from human rights activists.
Jah submitted that the 1991 Constitution grants right to a speedy and reasonable trial, and that all the accused persons have responsible citizens to stand as sureties on their behalf, as they pose no flight risk or have any intent to interfere with prosecution witnesses if granted bail.
However, Magistrate Kamanda upheld the submission of the prosecution by refusing to grant bail on the grounds that no evidence had been led, while the alleged offences charged were serious.
Thus, the men will remain in detention until the next hearing on 28 April.
Human rights organizations, including the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law and AdvocAid, had urged government to either release the men or charge them to court. In a recent statement on Monday, 20 April, the organizations said they were gravely concerned about the continued detention without trial of the 11 men, despite acknowledging the release of two women who were arrested and detained alongside the men, last week.