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17 in court for smuggling of fuel

November 3, 2016 By Hawa Amara

Seventeen accused persons yesterday appeared before Magistrate Dr. Abou Bhakarr Binneh-Kamara for allegedly found smuggling petroleum products from Sierra Leone to the Republic of Guinea.

The accused persons -Alhassan Jalloh, Esheka Malcom Kamara, Abu Sheriff, Foday Amadu A.Sillah, Alfred Williams, John Williams, Mohamed Dumbuya, Abu Bakarr Bangura, Osman Theo Kamara, Alie Jalloh, Ibrahim Bah, Alhaji Bah, Abu Bakarr Janneh, Ibrahim Bangura, Foday Koroma and Mohamed Yasim Sow – were before the Freetown Magistrates’ Court No.1 on 39 counts of conspiracy, keeping petroleum without licence, attempted smuggling of petroleum and evasion of tax duties, contrary to law.

According to the particulars of offence, the accused persons between 1st to 17th March this year at Rokupr, in Kambia district, conspired with unknown persons to smuggle petroleum products.

The particulars of offence stated that the accused persons at Madina and Bamoi villages in Mabgema chiefdom, Kambia district, were found keeping petroleum products in jerry cans without licence, willfully attempting to evade payment of custom duties and smuggling petroleum to the Republic Guinea, contrary to the laws of the country.

The accused persons were however put on bail in the sum of Le100 million each plus one surety in like sum. The court ordered that east surety should provide a bank statement worth Le50 million and a resident of the Western Area.

While testifying, Superintendent Samuel Kargbo told the court that on 17th September, 2016 acting on a tipoff, a combined team of police officers and Special Anti-Smuggling Unit at the National Revenue Authority (NRA), the Inspector General of Police, Francis Alieu Munu, and Director of Operations, Al-shiek Kamara, visited Kambia district and border communities in relation to the rampant smuggling of petroleum to the Republic of Guinea.

He said during the raid, 16 suspects were arrested and 325 empty jerry cans, two tankers loaded with fuel, 20 jerry cans containing petrol and 195 gallons of diesel seized, with both men and goods taken to Kambia Police Station for further investigations.

Superintendent Kargbo said during the investigation, the team visited the various scenes, including filling stations at the border, and interviewed several individuals, including the Paramount Chief.

He said the team observed that the filling stations at Gbalamuya have two separate tankers, one of them was empty while the other was loaded with fuel meant for Guinea.

He told the court that the petroleum product where kept in a makeshift zinc house at the back of the compound, and that the exit door leads to a nearby bush, linking Sierra Leone and Guinea.

He stated that the team also traveled to Kukuna, where they discovered three filling stations plus an unofficial crossing point.

The matter was adjourned to 7th November for further testimonies.

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