JPGF Commander tells Court Martial…

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 ‘We haven’t 14.5mm cartridges at our holding’

January 16, 2019

By Patrick Jaiah Kamara &Ibrahim k. Turay

The current Commander of Joint Presidential Guard Force (JPGF), Lieutenant Colonel Moriba Mohamed Kposowa, has told Judge Advocate and Court Martial Board Members that they didn’t have 14.5mm rounds at the JPGF ammunition holding centre.

He said when they discovered the ammunition at the cesspit closed to the Presidential Lodge, Hill Station, he checked with the Logistic Officer at the JPGF holding centre to ascertain the types and amount of ammunition, but that there were no discrepancies and in fact they hadn’t 14.5 mm rounds.

“I requested the Logistic Officer to check the ammunition at the holding centre, but there were no discrepancies. At that time and till now, we don’t even have 14.5mm rounds, but 12.7mm rounds,” he said.

The army commander, who was appointed to the position in May 2018, said part of his responsibility includes training and providing security guards to the presidency and making requisition for everything needed for their operations.

He told the Court Martial Board Members and Judge Advocate that he was in his office on 18th June, 2018, when he was called upon by one of his officers, who provided him with information about the discovery of the ammunition at the presidential lodge.

Lieutenant Colonel Kposowa said he then informed the Deputy Minister of Defense, who went with him to the crime scene where some military police, civil police and Criminal Investigation Department officers were  assembled.

He said the deputy minister, haven seen the ammunition in the half-opened cesspit, made some enquires regarding those that resided within the vicinity. He said the minister later authorised the military and civil police to jointly investigate the matter.

He explained that after they fully opened the cesspit, they invited Warrant Officer, one Kabba, a technical staff to witness the removal of the ammunition.

The commander said he observed that the ammunition was covered with dry leaves and that the mouth part of it was shiny, while the middle to the bottom was covered with mud.

“From my observation, some of the ammunition could have been used, but a majority of them were corroded,” he said.

He said the ammunition was removed and counted before they left the scene.

At that juncture, the witness came down from the box and identified the cartridges as the type of ammo he saw at the crime scene on June 18, 2018.

He said when he took up office in May 2018, the president was residing at his private home in Juba, so all the guards were deployed there leaving only six at the main gate of the Presidential Lodge.

He said during those periods, the JPGF quarters that are located closed to the Lodge were occupied by the families of the former presidential guards, and that  they were occupying the said quarters until the discovery of those ammunitions.

Earlier, Superintendent Mohamed K. Alieu, CID investigator, told the court that he was given the mandate to investigate the discovery of the ammunition.

The Superintendent said the vicinity was taped and the military men present directed them to the cesspit were the ammunition was discovered.

He said one thousand six hundred and six (1,606) 14.5 mm rounds of ammunition and one hundred and seventy eight (178) 12.7 AA rounds was discovered at the cesspit.

He further said that they took the ammunition to the exhibit clerk at the CID.

The police witness testified that during the investigation, Captain Kamara, the first accused, was handed over to them to help with investigation.

He said they conducted a search at the residence of Captain Kamara, but that nothing of police interest was discovered.

He added that during their investigation, they visited the Joint Logistic Unit where the military used to keep their weapons, and that several documents were given to them that formed part of the investigation

“A particular document was given to us by one Colonel Sylvester Bonkai about some ammunition that was missing. Immediately when received the said document, we called the three accused persons and the first accused confirmed to us that he was living at the building were the said ammunition was discovered,” he explained.

Both witnesses were testifying as the sixth and seventh for the prosecution in the ongoing court martial trial involving three military men that have been charged with five counts of conspiracy, larceny by servant, willful neglect and ordering damage to service property, willful damage of service property, and conduct that is prejudicial to the group order and military discipline, contrary to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone Act No.34 of 1961, as amended.

The accused persons, SL/1246 captain Patrick Edwin Kamara, RSLAF 18165301 Warrant Officer Class one, Samuel Conteh and RSLAF 18167256 Warrant Officer Class two, Abu Bakarr Jalloh

The  accused persons were alleged to have between January 1st, 2008 and 19th  June, 2018, in Freetown, with intent to steal from the government of Sierra Leone, conspired together with other persons unknown to steal by unlawfully agreeing to steal 4,245 rounds of 12.7 millimeter AA rounds, 3,828 rounds of 14.5 millimeter AA rounds, 11 guns of RPG 6 rounds of 7.62/39 milimetres, 11,476 rounds of 7.62/39 milimetres gun, 14,100 rounds of 7.62/39 millimeters tracer,  6,740 rounds of 7.62/51 millimeters bird wink, 515 rounds of 9/18 millimeters, all to the value of $80,402.30 equivalent to Le 683,490,550, property of the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL).