In comprehensive responses to the Anti Corruption Commission’s corruption case against Sierra Leone’s former Fisheries Minister, Haja Mrs. Afsatu Olayinka Ebishola Kabba (nee Savage), her Defence Lawyers have sought to rebut all the arguments of the Prosecutors. In one such section filed in front of Justice Ademusu’s Court last week, Lawyer Yada Williams Esq. argued that rather than the State vilifying Haja Afsatu Kabba, she should receive commendation for ensuring a required vacancy at the Ministry was filled by her son who volunteered his services to the Ministry, pro-bono in a show of patriotism for which he did not receive a single penny from the Government for his services rendered free of charge as the Government of Sierra Leone at the time did not have funds to pay remuneration to the required vacancy that needed to be filled.
“Where is the evidence adduced by the Prosecution that the employment of Abdul Wahid Kabba resulted in any benefit to the Accused or to the said individual? None whatsoever!! To the contrary there is abundance of evidence that Abdul Wahid Kabba provided his services pro bono (free of charge) to the Ministry and the Government of Sierra Leone. We submit that the Minister should in the circumstances be commended instead of vilified,” Lawyer Yada Williams argued out his case with precision.
The Learned Hon. Justice Ademusu had ordered for all Closing Arguments to be submitted in writing rather than orally. The pertinent section of the written submission here follows. Other sections will be serialized throughout the coming days here on Awareness Times.
EXTRACT FROM AFSATU KABBA’S DEFENCE ARGUMENT:
Counsel for the Accused submits that the analysis of the offence of “abuse of offence” contained in pages 9 – 12 of the address of the Prosecution is wrong and should be completely rejected by this Honourable Court. The offence created by section 42(1) of the ACC Act is described as “abuse of office” in the marginal note. The prosecution in drafting the Particulars of Offence in respect of counts 6 and 7 deliberately and purposefully used the words “AFSATU OLAYINKA EBISHOLA KABBA being the Minister of … abused her office as Minister, by improperly conferring an advantage ..” For Counsel for the Prosecution to submit in paragraphs 1 and 2 of their closing address on page 11 that “... the Act does not require that the offender misuses his or her office” or that “It does not require that the public officer should necessarily misuse her office” is not only wrong but disingenuous. If the element of “abuse” was not a necessary ingredient of the crime why did the Prosecution include it in their particulars of offence? It is trite law that the Prosecution should prove each and every element of the offence contained in their particulars of claim. Counsel submits that the shift of position is necessitated because the Prosecution has failed to establish an essential element of the offence. It is clear from the evidence of PW 7, PW 9 and PW 11 that the persons that the Accused caused to be employed were employed without violation of any laid down or established rule. Another significant element in the offence that the Prosecution failed to prove which is contained in their particulars of offence was that the accused caused “the irregular and unlawful employment of the said persons”. There is no evidence before this Court that “Abdul Wahid Kabba” was irregularly and unlawfully employed by the Accused. This we submit is another key ingredient of the particulars of the offence which the Prosecution failed to prove. [This submission applies mutatis mutandis to the employment of Ibrahim Kabba in Count 6].
Another ingredient of the offence that the Prosecution failed to prove is the “conferring an advantage on Messer Abdul Wahid Kabba”. The prosecution did not adduce any evidence to show that the said Abdul Wahid Kabba benefitted in anyway from his employment. Contrary to that, PW 4 testified in-chief on 1stÂ of July 2010 to this effect:
“Abdul Wahid Kabba did not serve as a temporary marine protection officer.Â The moment I observed that there were no funds to pay temporary officers, I immediately consulted with the Minister (the accused) his appointment was changed to voluntary.Â Haja Afsatu Kabba was the minister.Â I informed her that there were no sufficient funds to pay Mr. Abdul Wahid Kabba as a temporary marine protection officer.Â The first letter which was for a temporary position was not dispatched”. Page35 lines 3-12.
Under cross-examination PW 4 also told the Court:
“There were no funds secured for between 6 and 7 months”.
Counsel submits that section 42(1) of the ACC Act creates a “result crime” i.e., the prosecution must not only prove the conduct of the proscribed act by the Accused but it should also prove that the conduct had certain result(s). In the case of the offence under section 42(1) that benefit to the Accused or any other person ensued. Where is the evidence adduced by the Prosecution that the employment of Abdul Wahid Kabba resulted in any benefit to the Accused or to the said individual? None whatsoever!! To the contrary there is abundance of evidence that the Abdul Wahid Kabba provided his services pro bono (free of charge) to the Ministry and the Government of Sierra Leone. We submit that the Minister should in the circumstances be commended instead of vilified!Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
#END OF EXTRACT FROM WRITTEN SUBMISSION