From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, First Protected Witness Names State House!
By Aruna Turay
May 28, 2010, 17:22

Traditionally, in Sierra Leone, one of the masked devils that prosecutes evil-doers is referred to as ‘Aginah-Musa’. He is usually disguised and covered with a piece of cloth to prevent people who are not members of that particular secret society where this mask devil belongs from seeing who is in the mask.

Those who might not have come across an Aginah-Musa but were fortunate to attend the Thursday 27th May 2010 court seating between the Ex-Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Haja Afsatu Kabba and the State [Anti-Corruption Commission] witnessed a scenario similar to that of an Aginah-Musa when the second Prosecution Witness (PW-2) who prosecuted on the ongoing matter presided by Justice Ademusu in High Court No.2 on Thursday May 27th 2010, did so from behind a big cloth, preventing the audience from seeing him but allowing the Judge and Lawyers to see him while testifying. This follows an order by Hon. Justice Browne-Marke for witnesses identities to be hidden from the general public.

Responding to questions posed to him by Prosecution Lawyer Calvin T. Mantsebo, the PW-2, behind the veil, told the court that he has been an employee of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources for some time now. When asked to confirm the cheques that were earlier on tendered as exhibits A1-5, the witness told the court that he prepared all the cheques on the instruction of his immediate boss at the ministry. He did not name this immediate boss. He further told the court that he was in his office when his immediate boss came to him and asked him to prepare a cheque of Le.300,000,000 (three hundred million Leones) which he said is an order from the Minister Afsatu Kabba. He said he did not get the instructions directly from the Minister herself but that his immediate boss told him that was what the Minister wanted.

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The witness told the court that he contested this amount on the grounds that it was too much but his immediate boss suggested that the amount be withdrawn in bits. He said he further asked his boss whether there is a written instruction from the Minister for the withdrawal of this amount and his boss replied to him that it was just a verbal instruction given to him by the Minister. Despite not seeing any written instruction, he explained that he believed his immediate boss words that the Minister had told his immediate boss to tell him to prepare the check for the Minister to use the proceeds.

The witness went on that he first prepared exhibit A-1 in the sum of Le.160,000,000 (one hundred and sixty million Leones) which was given to the Contractor for Yeane Enterprises and the raised a voucher for this amount which he said was later signed by his two senior bosses but again he did not name the two bosses. He also confirmed preparing exhibit A-2 to A-5 on diverse dates. He said he was the one who personally cashed exhibit A-2 (thirty-five million Leones) and A-3 (forty-five million Leones), making for a total of eighty million Leones, on 27th October 2009 and took it to Yeane Enterprises office on Lamina Sankoh Street in Freetown where his un-named immediate boss was waiting on him. He said he gave the money to his boss who collated it with exhibit A-1 (one hundred and sixty million Leones) cashed by the Yeane Contractor, making it the sum of two hundred and forty million Leones.

Shortly after that, he went on, he joined his boss and the Yeane Enterprises Contractor in his boss car and they all drove to Parliament where he said they met the Minister.

He said the Minister ordered them to hand the money over to her security and driver in her car and adding that they refuse tendering the entire Le.240,000,000, instead surrendered the sum of Le.230,000,000 holding back ten million leones.

After a while he furthered, they drove behind the Minister ministerial jeep and they all entered State House where he said they parked their cars for a while and later he joined his boss car together with the Contractor and they drove away leaving the Minister behind with the money at State House.

On 28th October 2009 he cited, he again cashed exhibits A-4 and 5 (seventy million Leones) and handed it over to his immediate boss.

At this juncture, the Prosecution closed its case. Also, Defence Lawyer Tejan Jalloh who led yesterday’s defence team, asked for an adjournment to commence cross-examination. In his wisdom, the Presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Samuel Ademusu adjourned the matter to today 28th May 2010 at 10:00am.

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