July 13, 2021
By Yusufu S. Bangura
Hon Emmanuel Saidu Conteh of Constituency 129, Western Urban, Nabie Unisa Raymond Bangura, Michael Alpha Fornah and Sheriff Jalloh, were on Monday, 12th July, 2021, remanded at the Male Correctional Centre at Pademba Road by Magistrate Sahr Kekura presiding at the Pademba Road Court No.1 for alleged conspiracy to commit a felony.
Before the commencement of the matter, the entire court building was filled with relatives of the accused persons and other well-wishers, including Members of Parliament led by the Leader of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) Hon. Chernor M. Bah.The Members of Parliament were in court to solidarise with their colleague, who is standing trial for the offences of importing arms and ammunition into the country illegally.
Accompanied by a battery of lawyers, Hon.Emmanuel Saidu Conteh, who is the 2nd accused, appeared in a rather casual attire, putting on blue-black T. Shirt, jean trousers and a simple slippers, while holding a bottle of water.
The four accused persons were before Magistrate Kekura on three counts of conspiracy to commit a felony, illegal importation of arms and ammunition and unlawful possession of arms and ammunition contrary to Section 18 (1) of the Arms and Ammunition Act No.9 of 2012.
Police prosecutor, Assistant Superintendent Ibrahim S. Mansaray, alleged that the accused persons on a date between Thursday, 22nd April, 2021, and Friday, 2nd July, 2021, in Freetown, conspired with other persons to commit a felony to wit illegal importation of arms and ammunition.
The prosecutor further alleged that the 1st and 2nd accused persons on the same date and place imported arms and ammunition into Sierra Leone without valid license.
It was also alleged that the 1st and 2nd accused persons on Friday 2nd July, 2021, at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay, Cline Town, Freetown, were found in possession of arms and ammunition without valid license or lawful authority and reasonable excuse.
After the charges were read to the accused persons by the court clerk, the accused persons did not take any plea because the offenses are capital.
The 1st accused was represented by Lawyer J.M Jengo and Lawyer Lansana Dumbuya, the 2nd accused was represented by a battery of 9 lawyers, while the 3rd and 4th accused persons were represented by Lawyer M.N Bitter.
After the charges were read to the accused persons, ASP I.S Mansaray told the magistrate that he needed short date for him to summon his witnesses to start testifying in respect of the matter.
Lawyer Lansana Dumbuya speaking on behalf of his colleagues, told the Bench that the accused persons were in police custody for 10 days before they were charged to court and that justice was seen not to be done, but must be done.
He further told the Bench that the prosecution did not bring any witness to start testifying in respect of the matter, but rather told the Bench that they needed a futher date.
He said the prosecution served them affidavit few minute before the matter started, adding that the affidavit did not mention any section as to why they were opposing to bail.
He said the affidavit only cited the seriousness of the matter without citing any law.
He further applied for bail on behalf of the accused persons, noting that the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th accused persons were residents in Freetown, and that the 1st accused has a fix address, which was mentioned by the prosecutor in his affidavit.
Lawyer Dumbuya said the accused persons are responsible citizens and that the 2nd accused is a sitting Member of Parliament, who is representing a whole constituency, thus the 1, 2 and 3 accused persons are gainfully employed.
He noted that the 2nd and 3rd accused persons were suffering from high blood pressure and that they needed proper medical attention.
He said if granted bail they will have access to their private medical doctors. He canvassed his bail plea, citing Section 79(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act No. 32 of 1965.
He said if bail is granted to his clients, they will not interfere with witnesses because they don’t know any of them and that they have reliable sureties that were ready and willing to enter into their recognisance.
He said his clients will not jump bail if granted one.
In response, the prosecution stated that he relied on the Bench to use his discretion and also the affidavit which he had served the defense.
After hearing both applications from the defense and prosecutor, Magistrate Kukura refused bail, citing the seriousness of the offense.
He adjourned the matter to Wednesday, 14th July, 2021, for the first prosecution witness to testify.