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By Theophilus S. Gbenda
Dec 1, 2005, 17:20
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The ongoing inquery into the death of the former Chief Immigration Officer, Madam Gloria Newman-Smart, entered day two on Tuesday November 28, 2005, at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

 number of high placed Sierra Leoneans, have already made testimonies before the Commission which was set up by H.E. the President, Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.  The Commission has the singular duty of looking into the circumstances that led to the death of the former immigration chief, and to make appropriate recommendations to the government for further action.

The Commission is comprised of six commissioners, headed by the Hon. Dr. Alusine Fofanah, who also happens to be the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights.

To what many observers at the ongoing inquiry into the death of the late Madam Gloria Newman -Smart have referred to as an unethical conduct, the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mr. Sannah J. Marrah, appeared visibly drunk when he appeared before the Commission to explain his role in the circumstances that led to the death of the former chief immigration officer.

Sana J. Marrah in a 'drunkorman' pose

Accordingly, Mr. Sannah Marrah happened to have been the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the material time when the late woman was placed under considerable pressure by the ministry, to account for monies alleged to have been converted by her, in respect of 26 Sierra Leonean passports issued by her to Sierra Leoneans resident in the United kingdom.

Commissioner Christo Johnson

The initial appearance of Mr. Marrah before the Commission was by all indication unproductive as his blatant display of misdemeanor made it almost impossible for him to say anything serious.

Commissioner Muctarr Williams

His responses to questions posed on him by the interrogator and the commissioners were so absurd that he was  allowed to compose himself for a while and get back to the Commission immediately afterwards.

Commissioner Miatta Samba

In his testimony hours later, Mr. Marrah informed the Commission that he was very disinterested in the matter relating to the passport issue, which was why he handed down the matter for onward investigation to his deputy, Mr. J.B. Bangura.

Hon. Dr. Alusine Fofnah

He explained that his attention was first drawn on the matter by the former Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. George Banda Thomas, whom he said instructed him to enquire from the late woman whether reports in the newspapers alleging that she was involved in a kind of passport syndicate were in fact true.

Commissioner Valnora Edwin

Mr. Marrah however pointed out that the late woman failed to show up at his office even when he repeatedly summoned her. He went on to state that Mr. George Banda Thomas grew visibly angry when he leant that the late woman did not co-operate with the ministry in establishing the facts concerning the said passports.

Commissioner Valesius Thomas

According to him, the former minister’s anger grew to an extent that he even suggested at a particular point in time that the matter be forwarded to the police.

Mr. John B. Joseph

Asked whether the late woman’s refusal to adhere to his call did in any way off set him, Mr. Marrah had this to say “If the woman had come over to my office, we would not have been here today.”  According to documents before the Commission, Mr. Marrah reportedly played a leading role both in his capacity as permanent security and in his person, to subject the late woman to the kind of stress that ultimately led to her demise.

Mr. M.B Lappia: Dir. CID-taking oath

A particular case in point was when the late Gloria Newman Smart responded to a letter of query earlier addressed to her on the instructions of Mr. Marrah, that she was far from being guilty of the alleations, and that she will prefer to treat the said allegations with the contempt they deserve.

Insp. Sorie Bangura: OC. Adelaid St Police Station

That same day, another letter was addressed to the former immigration boss on the directives of Mr. Marrah that the ministry’s findings show that the late woman indeed received the $520 relating to the passports.

Alhaji I.B Kargbo SLAJ President

Mr. Marrah also played a leading role in the moves to ensure that the late woman proceeded on an involuntary leave.

On this however, Mr. Marrah told the Commission that it was the secretary to the president who was pressuring him to do a letter to the establishment secretary, advising  him that the late woman be made to proceed on leave while investigation against her by the office of national security proceeded.

Rtd Brig: Kelly Conteh: ONS Director

Mr. Marrah ended up by arguing that all he was doing was under the directives of Mr.  George Banda Thomas. In his own testimony, the Deputy Secretary of the ministry of internal Affair Mr. Joseph B. Bangura recalled that he was given instructions by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Marrah, to address series of letters to the late Gloria Newman-Smart, relating to the issue under review.

Mr. A.C Nguajah: Establishment Secretary

According to him, all the said correspondences were vetted by Mr. Marrah before they were dispatched to the addressee.
Mr. Bangura disclosed that a number of meetings were held in the office of Mr. George Banda Thomas, to discuss the issue of the late Gloria Newman-Smart.

Dr. Owiss Koroma: pathologist

Mr. Bangura also disclosed that he personally had no evidence to show that the money in question was indeed handed over to the late Madam Gloria Newman-Smart, adding however that he was under the directive of the permanent secretary and that he was doing all this to please him.
Asked how he felt when he heard of the death of the late woman, he simply noted that he felt bad, especially so when he used to have a personal relationship with her.

Mr. Anthony Aruna: Deputy Immigration Officer

Also testifying was the Establishment Secretary Mr. A.C Nguajah, who informed the Commission that he was under considerable pressured by Mr. George Banda Thomas to send the late woman on leave.
The Director of CID Mr. M.B. Lappia also made testimony. In his testimony, Mr. Lappia confirmed that the late woman was simultaneously investigated by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) and the CID.



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