Errand boy testifies in Hajj gate trial


October 16, 2018

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Abass Sesay, an errand boy for 1st accused Sheka Sahid Kamara, former Special Assistant to ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma, yesterday testified in the on-going 2017 Hajj corruption trial involving top officials of the previous All People’s Congress (APC)-led administration.

The witness told Justice Reginald Fynn at the Freetown High Court that save the 5th and 6th accused persons (Ibrahim Facke Conteh and Abu Bakarr Carew), he knew 1st accused Sheka Sahid Kamara, Victor Bockarie Foh, former Vice President, Minkailu Mansaray, erstwhile Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources and Mohamed Alie Bah.

He told the court that his duties included receiving letters addressed to his employer, help him type letters and run his day-to-day errand as demanded.

He said that during the 2017 Hajj arrangement, he received letters from applicants and delivered them to Secretary to former President Ernest Bai Koroma.

He narrated that he also received passports from some applicants, which he returned to the holders later.

The witness further told the court that on a certain date he could not recall, he accompanied his boss and wife to the bank where they deposited the sum of Le300 million.

He narrated that his boss had told a certain teller he identified as Margret that the money belongs to government and that he wanted to deposit it in a special account for safe keeping.

He said his boss and wife entered a certain office together with the said Margret, while he waited at the banking hall safeguarding the money.

Sesay said that on their return, Margret confirmed that the money amounted to Le300 million, which was subsequently kept at the bank.

He said that after the transaction they went home and his boss put aside the sum of Le45 million which he said he would give second accused Victor Bockarie Foh to pay for canopies and refreshment for the pilgrims.

He further testified that his boss had the sum of US$80,000 which he also promised to give to the second accused, adding that they later went to the latter’s office but a security guard told them Foh was out of the office.

He said his boss decided to wait for the second accused, while he left to buy him a mobile phone charger.

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 Wednesday, October 17.