By Ibrahim Kabba Turay
Taking the witness stand in his defense, the first accused in the alleged Chancery Building corruption matter, Saidu Nallo, started his testimony on Friday, 14th July, 2023, at the Anti-Corruption Court, Law Court Building in Freetown
During his testimony in court, the accused person burst into tears when he was explaining to the court that during his time as Head of Chancery at the United Nations Mission in New York, he had no time for his family, but Sierra Leone.
On that note, Justice Fisher stood down the court for over an hour and an adjournment was requested by the first accused’s Lawyer, Mohamed Pa Momoh Fofanah, for his client to compose himself from that emotion.
Because there was no objection from the prosecuting team, led by Lawyer Robin Mason Senior, the matter was adjourned to Wednesday, 19th July, 2023.
Earlier, Nallo told the court that before becoming a career diplomat, he had served six different ministries including the Ministry of Labour, Mines, Education and Foreign Affairs of the state for one month each.
He said he started with the Ministry of Finance as an Administrative Officer in 2001, where he was tasked with budget preparation in the budget bureau working under the supervision of the Financial Secretary, among other responsibilities and later moved to the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources.
Having left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he said he worked for six months, Nallo said he was promoted to the rank of Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Education.
In that regard, between 2003-2007, he said was made an Integrity Officer for the Anti-Corruption Commission under the leadership of Val Collier, but left the Ministry of Education in 2007 and returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Senior Assistant Secretary in charge of the Asia Division during which one Mr. Yillah was the Permanent Secretary.
The first defense witness said he rose through the ranks at the Foreign Affairs Ministry until he was posted in 2010 to the Sierra Leone Chancery in New York.
At the time, he underscored that Ambassador Sheku Turay was the Permanent Representative for the Mission and Margaret Jah Matturie was the Head of Chancery.
On the issue of the Chancery Building, he maintained that it had been under discussions since 2003-04 but with no funds until 2015 when he was still Councillor, equivalent to Deputy Secretary.
He said in April 2015, he was recalled to Freetown for two years as Acting Director Multi-Lateral and in May 2016, he was promoted to the rank of Permanent Secretary.
He said by 2015,Vandy Chidie Minah the Permanent Representative while Alusine Sesay was the Head Chancery.
He pointed out that the Director General at the time was Ambassador Rashid Kargbo, who was succeeded by Ambassador Kadijatu Basil, and Dr. Samura Kamara as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
On numerous occasions, Mr. Nallo said he had acted nonchalantly to take up the assignment in New York because it was having a toll on his family relationship. During such a moment he burst into tears.