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15 persons walk free…

As State fails to prosecute Kambia fuel smuggling matter 

April 24, 2017 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Fifteen persons, who were arrested and charged to court for alleged smuggling of fuel at the Gbalamuya crossing point in the Kambia district, were on Friday set free by Magistrate  Dr.Abou Bhakarr Binneh-Kamara as the state failed to prosecute them in court.

Magistrate Kamara last Friday stated that the matter had been in court since last year but the prosecution has failed to summon witnesses to testify since the accused persons were charged to court five months ago.

He said the only option for the Bench was to discharge the matter as stated in Section 94 of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1965.

The fifteen men were preliminarily being investigated at court No.1 for an alleged attempt to smuggle 6,590 littres of petrol and 6, 580 littres of diesel.

Mohamed Dumbuya, Abu Bakarr Bangura, Ishiaka Makon Kamara, Abu Sheriff, Foday Amadu Sillah, Abu  Bakarr Janneh, Alfred Williams, John Williams, Alhaji Bah, Osman T. Kamara, Alie Jalloh, Ibrahim Bah, Ibrahim Bangura, Mohamed Kandeh, and Lamin Turay were dragged to court on six counts of conspiracy, attempted smuggling, attempted evasion of tax duty, and keeping petroleum products without licence, contrary to laws of Sierra Leone.

The prosecution had alleged that  the accused persons on diverse dates between 1st  March and 17 September, 2016, at the Mange Police Checkpoint, Bureh Maconteh Chiefdom, in Port-Loko District, were found in control of a fuel bowser with registration No. AGO 728, loaded with the above quantity of petroleum products valued Le46, 344, 000 and headed for Guinea.

After they were discharged, the men left the court room smiling.

In October last year, police arrested three fuel tankers and other 52 Jerry Cans of fuel at the Gbalamuya border post in the Kambia district.

Government responded by closing down almost all the fuel stations in the district pending investigations, although they were later opened to the public. Among other things, the government also removed the subsidy on fuel on the grounds that the citizens were not benefiting from the subsidy.

Addressing journalists last year after the arrest of the suspects, Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police, Francis Alieu Munu, vowed to use his powers as head of the police force to prosecute those involved in the smuggling of fuel out of the country.

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