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Senior police officer in court for missing $160,000 exhibit

July 5, 2021

By Yusufu S. Bangura

A magistrate court in Freetown is investigating Assistant Superintendent Samuel Saio Kanu of the Sierra Leone Police for missing US$160,000 and other items that were entrusted to him for safe-keeping as exhibit.

Police say Kanu was entrusted with $US160,000 and some other items as exhibit from a raid they conducted, but Kanu could not account for none when he was asked to submit the said exhibit to his senior colleague in the Finance Office at Police Headquarters.

On Monday, 5th July, the head of the team that conducted the raid, Director of Professional Standards, Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Brima Jah, identified the accused as Officer Commanding the Special Investigation Bureau.

He told the court that he received an intelligence which prompted him to instruct the accused to organise a team and meet him at his office.

He said he later led the team to Sierra Palm Hotel at Lumley Beach which was the subject of the raid.

“At the Hotel, I asked the Indian businessmen whether they were in possession of at least US$10,000-which is a legitimate sum of money to possess. But they responded that they only had US$150,” he said.

AIG Brima Jah added that he later instructed the accused to conduct a thorough search as they showed the Indian a search warrant which gave them the authority to search the hotel.

“After concluding the search, the sum of US$160, 000, five gold Bass, and testing & melting machines of gold were discovered,” he testified.

According to the witness, the said items were recorded, while the accused and the other police officers signed the search warrant.

He noted that two Indian businessmen and the Senegalese failed to sign the search warrant which made him to prepare a certificate.

He added that the said items, the suspects, and other police officers, including the accused returned to the Police Headquarters.

Upon arrival, AIG Brima Jah said he led the team together with the items to the Inspector General of Police, Dr. Ambrose Michael Sovula to brief him about the operation, but that the IG preferred to be briefed at the end of the investigation.

He said the IG ordered the accused to hand over all the exhibits to Superintendent Johny Walker attached to the Finance Office at Police Headquarters for safe keeping and take the suspects to the Central Police Station for further investigations.

He said on 24th July he could not hear anything from the accused with regards the investigations.

“On the 25th of the same month, I became concerned and I called him on his mobile phone. I told him to come and brief me about the matter, but he responded that he had on board a vehicle to the provinces. I drew his attention to the police routine duties which required him to apply for leave and will only leave after being granted,” he explained.

He further explained to the court that, the accused ignored it and told him that he will be back the following day.

“On the 26th July, 2020, the accused person told me that US$40,000 dollars had been stolen from the sum by a police officer called Caesar Foday Bangura. While he was till speaking to me, I heard the voice of the IG, so I invited the IG in my office and asked the accused again. But he repeated the same thing. I reminded him at that point that he was entrusted with US$160,000, five gold Bass, testing and melting machines for safe keeping with Superintendent Johny Walker at the Finance Department of Police Headquarters,” he said.

He told the court that he enquired as to how the money got missing at the Finance Department, but he was informed that the accused was asked to record the serial numbers of the money on a piece of paper in the Finance office, but the accused chose to do it in his own office at Central Police Station.

He said the accused left his office with a statement that he was going in search of Caesar, whom he alleged to have stolen the money.

On 12th August, 2020, AIG Brima Jah said he reported the matter to the Independent Police Complaint Board that the accused has failed to account for US$160,000 and produce the original search warrant that was in his possession.

At the end of his testimony, Magistrate Sahr Kekura, who is presiding over the matter advice that the cross-examination be deferred since the courtroom was crowded and covid-19 was at high peak in the country.

Meanwhile, defense counsel, Lawyer A.S Nicole requested that the witness bring along the search warrant on the next adjourned date, but the witness reiterated that the said warrant was in the possession of the accused who failed to hand it over.

Magistrate Kekura adjourned the matter to the Wednesday 14th July, 2021 and bail continue for the accused person.

The matter is prosecuted by lawyer Sulaiman Banja Tejan Sie and ASP Ibrahim S. Mansaray.

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