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Appeals Court Rules on 4 COI Persons of Interest

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Appeals Court Rules on 4 COI Persons of Interest

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By Judiciary of Sierra Leone Communications

The Court of Appeal presided over by Hon. Justice Ansumana Ivan Sesay (JA) has on Monday, 26th April, 2021 ordered with immediate effect, the arrest of Umaru A. Conteh and Mami Koroma, former Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

The three empanelled Justices-Hon. Ansumana Ivan Sesay (JA), Momoh Jah Stevens (JA) and Hon. Adrian J. Fisher (J) also upheld the findings and recommendations of the Judge-led Commissions of Inquiry.

The Appellants; Umaru Conteh, Mami Koroma, both having served as former Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Education Science and Technology; Alhaji Musa Tawarally, former Lands Minister and Baba Brima Fortune, former Permanent Secretary in the Lands Ministry, separately filed Appeals following the launch of the government’s Whitepaper challenging the findings and recommendations of the Commissions of Inquiry.

Arguing his grounds of Appeal, Lawyer Ady Macualey who represented the Appellant Umaru A. Conteh, told the court that the sole Commissioner erred in Law in making adverse findings and recommendations against his client who didn’t fall within the scope of the subject matter mandate.

He further argued that the sole Commissioner violated the principle of natural justice in that he failed to accord his client the opportunity to be heard, adding that the findings and recommendations of the sole Commissioner against the ministry in respect of his client are against the weight of the evidence before the court.

State Counsel representing the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Robert Kowa, had argued that the Appellant didn’t fall within the scope of the Commission but within its terms of reference and also had no adverse effects against him which gave him the legal basis to appeal.

He went on to argue that there was sufficient evidence before the Sole Commissioner that enabled him to ascertain that the Appellant was a collaborator.

With similar arguments being made for Mani Koroma, the Court held that the findings of the Sole Commissioner in relation to both Appellants are hereby upheld and that all adverse findings and recommendations against them by the Sole Commissioner and the whitepaper were upheld.

Refusing the Commission’s recommendation that the Appellants are barred from holding  Public offices, the Court further ordered that “pursuant to the provisions of section 78 (1)(a) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, we are of the opinion that the findings of the Sole Commissioner which have been upheld by this court disclose acts that may constitute offences under the ACC Act 2008 as amended and we hereby order the Undersheriff to arrest the Appellant forthwith for onward transmission to the ACC,’’ and referred the findings and exhibits of the Sole Commissioner with respect of the Appellants for investigations.

The Court ruled that the Appellants bear the cost of the appeal summarily assessed to at Le50,000,000 to be paid forthwith.

Meanwhile, the court also ruled that the Commission’s findings against the former Lands Minister Alhaji Musa Tarawally and Baba Brima Fortune were not justifiable in light of the evidence before it, for which their appeals were both allow and the findings including those referred to as adverse and claims allowed.

The court therefore ordered that any money paid by them in respect of the findings and recommendations should be refunded in full.

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