From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Afsatu Kabba
Students In Solidarity with Afsatu
Apr 19, 2010, 14:08

Students from various political persuasions have indicated to this newspaper that they were in sympathy with the plight currently faced by the erstwhile Fisheries Minister, Haja Afsatu Kabba who is facing a 17-Count Indictment at the Law Courts. The students alongside grassroots women have informed this newspaper that they will be at the Courts this morning of April 19th 2010 when the case is supposed to commence in earnest; so as to “give courage” to Haja Afsatu Kabba to know that she is appreciated by many.

According to President of the National Union of APC Students, Mr. Alie Conteh who spoke to this press last weekend, many students in Sierra Leone consider Haja Afsatu to be innocent until Law Courts found otherwise.

Mr. Alie Conteh debunked “false reports” that the students planned to be disrupting the Courts this morning as unfounded.

“APC students are civilised enough to not only respect but to also uphold the rule of Law. Similarly, we know all Court sessions are held publicly and we will be there as members of the public to give support to Haja Afsatu Kabba,” the Students’ Leader said.

On a different but related issue is a featured article See below with an update on ACC & Afsatu

Update on Afsatu Kabba Corruption Case

By Sylvia Olayinka Blyden

With this featured article is reproduced three Letters exchanged within the last few days [14th - 16th April 2010] between Commissioner Abdul Tejan-Cole and Lawyers for Haja Afsatu Kabba.

Readers of this report will recall that on Sunday March 14th 2010, I sent out a pictorial report on our findings on board the Yan Yu 632 Okeky Fishing Boat. The contents of that report do not need to be repeated here. They shocked the world and the subsequent events where the Ernest Bai Koroma led Government chose to accept a $20,000 fine and set the boat free rather than have the culprits charged for several criminal offences, continues to provide amazement to many around the world.

However, what will be recalled here today is that within 24 hours of that my pictorial report being sent around the world, a rushed Indictment of the erstwhile Fisheries Minister Afsatu Kabba was undertaken with violations of the country's laid down laws being carried out in order to ensure that the Minister was indicted and quickly removed from office on that very Monday following our findings on board the Yan Yu boat the day before.

The Minister's Defence Team denounced the charges as "frivolous". The ACC Prosecutors requested several weeks to carry out preparation of their prosecution of one of the country's most formidable women but this was vigorously objected to by Defence Lawyers; the Judiciary upheld the ACC's request and granted them five weeks to prepare with an accompanying Order that the accused person be served with the Witness Statements and Bundle of Evidence available, as mandated by the country's Criminal Procedure Acts. The ACC Prosecutors had only gone to Court with typed pieces of paper and no bundle of evidence or disclosures! The Court's Order stated unequivocally that the accused person should be served by the Anti Corruption Commission all documents and evidence ACC wished to tender in the matter, AT LEAST SEVEN DAYS before the date of trial which was then adjourned to be 19th April 2010.

Therefore, it was expected that the Anti Corruption Commission would obey the Court Order and serve their Bundle of Evidence and Witness Statements by April 12th 2010 but this has not yet been done as of today April 19th 2010. Instead, those people living in Freetown might know that a crowd of youths and women stormed the Anti Corruption Commission offices past Friday April 16th 2010 chanting songs in support of the sacked Minister of Fisheries with the women removing their lappas and spreading it on the ground in anticipation that Afsatu Kabba will appear at the Commission and walk on their lappas. Rumours flew all over the city that the Fisheries Minister had been recalled by the ACC once again to answer questions in the matter currently brought before the court. Needless to say, many eyebrows had been raised in total disbelief that the ACC could actually wish to recall an accused person currently under the jurisdiction of the Courts, to go again for further questioning in a matter already sub-judice.

Truly, truly, this unbelievable stage of development is where the country's anti-corruption versus Haja Afsatu Kabba saga currently is. No Evidence or Witness Statement have been served but the 3 correpondences reproduced today speak for themselves. The first one is from the ACC Boss requesting a "further interview" whilst in response to an enquiry from Haja Afsatu Kabba’s lawyers, another ACC one informs that the "further interview" concerns related matters pending in Court; it is circumspect.

Unfortunately, due to ill health, Haja Afsatu Kabba was unable to make it to ACC offices as requested but it is believed she will be at the Law Courts this morning to commence the trial of her 17-Count indictment.

When the ACC's letters are constrasted with Section 137 of the country's Criminal Procedure Act which states: ["S.137: Every indictment, when signed, shall be filed in the High Court. The fact that the indictment has been so signed shall be equivalent to a statement that all conditions required by law to constitute the offence charged, and to give the Court jurisdiction, have been fulfilled in the particular case"], then it is clear that a very disturbing trend is emerging in this matter.

That trend is that following the journalists' findings on the Okeky Boat of March 14th 2010, there was a rush to have the Fisheries Minister removed from office immediately on the very next morning of March 15th 2010. The two events might not be linked but what is very clear is that there was a clear breach of several of the provisios of the Criminal Procedure Acts and the latest exchange of correspondence between the ACC Commissioner and Haja Afsatu Kabba's lawyers now leave the greatly disturbing suspicion that the reason why the ACC is yet to serve the Bundle of Evidence and Witness Statements on Haja Afsatu Kabba as ordered by the learned Justice Browne-Marke is because, in contravention of s.137 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the ACC's indictment was HURRIEDLY signed and filed at the High Court without the investigations being completed and thus all the conditions required by law to constitute the offence for which Haja Afsatu Kabba was charged, had not yet been properly enquired into, to enable a statement that "all conditions required by law to constitute the offence charged" might not have been fulfilled.


Additionally, in contravention of Section 140 of the country's CPA, the indictment was hurriedly filed and served that very same Monday Morning within a period of LESS THAN TWO HOURS!!! Section 140 states there should be a SEVEN DAYS (I repeat, SEVEN DAYS!!!) period of time between the service on the accused and arraignment in front of the Courts. Section 89(2) of the Anti Corruption Act of 2008 makes it very clear that the procedure to be followed for corruption prosecutions should be that as laid down in, amongst others, Section 140 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Additionally, less than a year ago, the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone in the case of Adrian Fisher vs. The State, had ruled that the Criminal Procedure Act takes precedence for all procedures in front of the Courts of the Republic of Sierra Leone including Corruption matters.

In summary, where we currently are, is at a point where the Anti Corruption Commission is being publicly exposed by their very selves that they have been shabby, shoddy and mal-handling of their 17-count case against Haja Afsatu Kabba.

But what is really going on here? Newspapers widely dubbed as 'ventriloquist puppets' of the ACC have severally published with certainty that the ACC would be adding more charges against Haja Afsatu Kabba and some have even gone as far as to state that the 17counts were merely 'holding charges' to be replaced by the 'true charges'. Then there have been the disturbing reports that the two most senior accountants at the Fisheries Ministry were subjected to detention in police cells for several days by the Anti Corruption Commission and kept incommunicado from even their families. Why the accountants were so mal-treated is yet to be explained to anyone by the ACC.

However, the laws of Sierra Leone do not make any such provision for 'Holding Charges' and especially not in cases which bypass Preliminary Investigations but get committed to the High Court preferred or deemed to be preferred under Section 136. Infact, Section 89(3) of the Anti Corruption Act reflects the enormous amount of Integrity which it is assumed the Commissioner carries in his moral fibre when it states as follows: "On a trial on indictment preferred under this section, an extract of the findings of the Commission, signed by the Commissioner, to the effect that a particular person is implicated in any offence under this Act shall, without more, be sufficient authority for preferring that indictment in respect of such offence as is disclosed in or based on the report of those findings."

In light of all the above, I hereby submit once again that Commissioner Abdul Tejan-Cole should RESIGN if he does carry the moral fibre and the high level of Integrity that we all supposed he carried within himself when we so strongly acclaimed his appointment to that sacred office of ACC Commissioner in 2008!! Indeed, the attached letters speak for themselves and they are screaming out the refrain of RESIGN! RESIGN!! RESIGN!!! at Abdul Tejan-Cole. But is he listening?

Meanwhile, the case itself comes up at the Courts today Monday 19th April 2010, the anniversary of the date (19th April 1971) that Sierra Leone was turned into a truly independent Republican State. Come this Monday morning, will the 'Holding Charges' be dropped and attempted to be replaced by the 'True Charges'?  And if so, will that not now give a Textbook Case for Criminal Defamation of Character to be brought by Haja Afsatu Kabba against Commissioner Abdul Tejan-Cole?

The 2008 Anti Corruption Act only provides immunity for Commissioner Tejan-Cole if he acted in good faith. Acts of malice, spite or carried out with a hidden agenda and with no thought for the reputation of a fellow citizen, cannot be considered to be acts of good faith. This is now Monday morning. Good morning readers!

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.