October 11, 2018
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Margaret Michaela Goba, a teller at Ecobank Sierra Leone, yesterday testified in the on-going 2017 hajj corruption trial involving officials of the former All Peoples Congress (APC) administration.
The second prosecution witness in the trial presided over by Justice Reginald Fynn, Ms. Goba corroborated the testimony of another prosecution witness that 1st accused Sheka Sahid Kamara, former Special Assistant to former President Ernest Bai Koroma, had deposited Le300 million of the Hajj money into a joint bank account.
She recognised the 1st accused as one of the customers of the bank and recalled the transaction on 18th August 2017, at around 3:30p.m., when the first accused and his wife, Anmarie Kamara, and a certain boy walked into the bank and informed her that they wanted to deposit money into their joint account.
The witness said that because the money was huge, she took them to the bulk room of the bank and informed her boss that an amount of Le3000 million was about to be deposited by a customer.
She testified that since the bulk teller was not around at the time, she decided to help facilitate the deposit process because the 1st accused had earlier informed her that he would be travelling out of the country on that same day.
She narrated that while on the process, the 1st accused enquired as to whether it was possible for him to open a new account, adding that she responded in the affirmative and took him to the customer service department where he filled all the necessary documents required to open an account.
The witness said the 1st accused later asked her to transfer the sum of Le250 million to the new account, but “I told him that it was impossible for the account to be functional on the same day because it has to go through processes.”
She said the 1st accused further instructed her to later transfer the sum of Le250 million to the new account as he left the bank in a hurry.
As she continued her testimony, the witness said that on Monday, 21st August 2017, she received a mail informing her that the new account was now functional and that she effected the transfer of Le250 million into the new account, as per the instruction of the 1st accused.
The ACC had indicted Sheka Sahid Kamara, former Special Assistant to former President Koroma; former Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh; Minkailu Mansaray, Deputy Chairman and Leader of the APC and former Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources; Mohamed Alie Bah; Ibrahim Fackeh Conteh; and Abu Bakarr Carew, former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, on eight counts of corruption.
According to the ACC, all accused persons on diverse dates between 1st January and 30th September 2017 allegedly conspired to commit corruption offences by misappropriating eighty thousand United States Dollars (USD $80,000), donated to the Government of Sierra Leone for Muslims to perform pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
The ACC also alleges that Sheka Sahid Kamara, Victor Bockarie Foh, Minkailu Mansaray, Mohamed Alieu Bah, and Abu Bakarr Carew on dates unknown between 1st of January and 30th September 2017 conspired to engage in a project without prior planning and conspired to undertake preparation for the 2017 Hajj pilgrimage.
The Commission further claims that the accused persons conspired to knowingly mislead the ACC by making statement to the investigators that the sum of US$60,000 was handed over to 2nd accused Victor Foh by 1st accused Sheka Sahid Kamara, when the actual amount was US$80,000.
Again, the ACC says that Sheka Sahid Kamara on dates between 1st July and 30th September 2017 misappropriated the sum of Le300, 000,000 donated to the government of Sierra Leone for Muslims intending to perform Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the anti-graft agency alleges that Abu Bakarr Carew on diverse dates between 1st and 30th August 2017 failed to comply with the appropriate procedure by approving the withdrawal of US$314,000 by Sheka Sahid Kamara from the Hajj Account No.003001012636100284 at ECObank.
The matter was adjourned to Friday, October 12.