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Customs officer testifies in alleged trans-West Africa arms traffic into S/Leone

By Hawa Amara

 A customs officer deployed at Gbalamuya in Kambia, on the Sierra Leone-Guinea border, Benedict A. Kargbo, yesterday testified at the Freetown Magistrates’ Court No.2 presided over by Magistrate Komba Kamanda.

Kamara testified in the matter involving one David Traore, a Malian national. The latter is alleged to have misinformed security operatives in the country about two trailers loaded with arms and ammunition bound for the country from Cotonou, Benin.

Traore was last year arraigned on three counts of conspiracy to cause public mischief, contrary to the laws of Sierra Leone, after the prosecution alleged that he had on diverse dates between 2nd and 8th October 2013, in Bo and Kambia respectively, provided false intelligence to state security operatives that certain persons were headed into the country from Cotonou, with two trailers loaded with arms and ammunition to unleash terror on the people of Sierra Leone.

He was also charged with intent to cause panic and disaffection for the state of Sierra Leone.

In his testimony, Kargbo told the court that on 8th October 2013 he received a call from his colleague from Bo, Mr. Lappia, who gave him information pertaining to the said information provided by the accused. He told the court that on 9th October the accused knocked on his door at around 4am.

“When I opened it was the accused and he introduced himself as David, that he was from Bo and that he has a confidential message concerning a security threat,” he explained. “I took the accused to my boss, Mr. Abu Bakarr Kamara, where he also introduced himself and informed my boss that he is coming from Mali and that he has an important message concerning a security threat to the country.”

The witness said the accused again told security officers at the customs post that some persons had loaded two trailers of arms and ammunition which was due to enter the country in a week’s time, and that the trailers will be loaded with building materials.

The witness said the accused later requested for transport fare and the officers raised up to one hundred United States dollars (US$200) for his transport and exchanged mobile phone numbers with him.

The witness further testified that on 26th October the accused texted to inform them about the departure of the two trailers from Benin, bound for Sierra Leone, and that on the 28th October the accused again went to Gbalamuya and told officers he was traveling to Freetown because his boss had sent him to arrange a hotel accommodation for a Lebanese national.

He said he was subsequently informed that the accused has been arrested and detained by detectives in Freetown.

This was apparently because the alleged intelligence provided by the accused was a hoax.

The matter is being prosecuted by Inspector F.K. Nyuma. The accused remains in remand at the maximum security prison on Pademba Road.

Magistrate Kamanda adjourned the matter to 30 January.