The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC)ís second Protected witness and third Prosecuting witness (PW-3) in the matter of the State versus Haja Afsatu Kabba kept spectators in the jam-packed High Court No. 2 roaring in laughter several times as he responded to the questions put to him during cross-examination by Lead Defence Counsel, Blyden Jenkins-Johnston Esq. The witness had been first examined by the ACC on Friday 28th May 2010 in respect of which testimony he was being cross-examined yesterday May 31st 2010.
PW-3 had made it clear to the Court last Friday that he had no written document to link Haja Afsatu Kabba to the withdrawal of the misappropriated funds or the receipt of the said funds. He insisted to Lawyer Jenkins-Johnston that he ordered for the creation of fictitious documents based on "verbal instructions" and that he caused the withdrawals of sums of monies totalling Le310,000,000 based on "verbal instructions" and he later handed over all the money again without collecting a written receipt, based on "verbal instructions".
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In response, PW-3 was told by the Defence Lawyer that "you sit there making a mockery of yourself talking about verbal instructions and you call yourself an accountant?"
PW-3 also told the court that he was the one who gave instructions to PW-2 his subordinate in the office "to prepare fictitious receipts" to which Lead Defence Counsel had retorted, "You prepared fictitious documents to enable you cover up how you chopped Government money ehn? When you want to chop Government money, you make fictitious receipts and when you are all caught, you connive to blame the accused who had by then been sacked as Minister?"
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At this point, the learned Honourable Justice Samuel Ademusu, in his wisdom, stepped in and told the witness not to answer the questions being posed to him by the Defence Counsel.
Earlier, the witness had denied the prior testimony of his fellow witness, PW-2 that the monies from all checks cashed by PW-2 had been handed over to PW-3.
PW-3 also informed the court that just like PW-2, he was himself initially a suspect for the misappropriation of the said funds and he was placed under arrest in a cell at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Sierra Leone Police from March 19th until March 22nd. He confirmed to the Court that it was upon his release from detention on March 22nd 2010 that he changed his initially statement and implicated Haja Afsatu Kabba who had been earlier sacked as Minister on March 15th 2010, following which he told the court that he now became a Prosecuting Witness for the ACC against Haja Afsatu Kabba.
PW-3 also stated that all the supporting documents in respect of the five cheques cashed did not contain the signature of Haja Afsatu Kabba on them.
"Do you see the signature of the accused Haja Afsatu Kabba anywhere on any of those vouchers?" Jenkins-Johnston had asked to which PW-3 had responded, "No, Haja Afsatu Kabbaís signature is not on any of the supporting documents as recipient of the funds".
PW-3 also confirmed to the Court that "There is no written instruction from the minister anywhere in respect of these five minutes." And proceeded to clarify, "the Director of Fisheries and the Permanent Secretary are the two officers only who gave the written instructions in respect of these five cheques".
Blyden Jenkins Johnston whilst going over the Statement made by PW-3 at the ACC back in March recalled to PW-3 that he had stated to the Anti Corruption Commission that "the true story" was that "whilst in my office" he was met by two senior officers inside his office who told him that the Minister had told the two officers during a meeting in which he had not been present, to tell him to prepare checks to the sum of three hundred million leones which he said he was told was to be utilised "for the APC Convention in Makeni".
Blyden Jenkins-Johnston then contrasted his above words to the ACC back in March with that he made in Court on Friday May 28th 2010 during his examination in chief when he had stated that he had been present "inside the Ministerís office" when the Minister gave the verbal instructions for the sum of three hundred million leones to be withdrawn "for State House as State House needed it urgently".
"On Friday May 28, you said State House needed it urgently but now today you have read out from your ACC Statement in March that you had said it was for the APC Convention in Makeni so which one is correct?" Jenkins-Johnston asked following which he added "On Friday you had said the Minister gave you the verbal instructions directly but today you are now reading from your March statement in which you had said back then that it was not the Minister who gave you instructions but two officers told you what they said the Minister had told them. So which one is correct?" Jenkins-Johnston asked the witness.
Jenkins-Johnston also pointed out to the witness that in his Friday Statement he told the Court that the second sum of Le70million totalling the collation to Le300million was allegedly handed over to Haja Afsatu Kabba in the basement of the Electricity Building along Siaka Stevens Street but in his March Statement he had told the Anti Corruption Commission that he personally handed the money over to the Minister "inside her office on October 28th 2010".
"Which one is correct? You have two different sets of stories for each of the scenarios you are recounting. Are you confused? Which one is correct?" Jenkins-Johnston asked.
When the witness did not respond to his question, Lawyer Jenkins-Johnston then strongly asserted with vehemence that, "Your statements are changing because you are lying. You cannot give the same story because you are making things up as you go along. I am putting it to you that you never handed any money to the accused or to her driver or her security. The entire sum of Le310,000,000 was not handed over but was shared by you and the other witnesses and chopped amongst yourselves. Is that not so? You people are the ones who chopped the Government money and decided to frame Haja Afsatu Kabba. That is why you do not have a single piece of document with her signature on them either instructing for the withdrawals or receiving the money. That is why you prepared all these fictitious vouchers! You chopped that money! You chopped it! Is that not so?" Jenkins-Johnston asked.
At this point, the learned Honourable Judge in his wisdom, instructed the witness not to answer the questions being put to him by Blyden Jenkins-Johnston.
The Defence then stopped their cross-examination and the Prosecution conducted a short re-examination before witness, PW-3 was asked to step down.
The matter was then adjourned to today Tuesday June 1st 2010 at 12 mid-day when the ACC is expected to bring in their fourth witness to prosecute Haja Afsatu.
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