In the case between the State vs Samura Kamara: Defence highlights irregularities in the Prosecution Evidence

First Accused Saidu Nallo’s Defence Council, Pa Momoh Fofanah, has Monday March 7 2022 started cross examination of the Anti – Corruption Commission (ACC)’s Prosecution Witness (PW1) Joseph Bockarie Noah. This is in the case between the ACC vs Nallo and four others including Samura Kamara who is the leading All People Congress presidential contender.

Presided over by Justice Adrian Fisher, Pa Momoh Fofanah pointed out that most of the charges levied against the First Accused Saidu Nallo border on ‘Not Following Procurement Processes’. Therefore, in his first cross examination, the Defence Counsel sought to establish that his Client had nothing to do with procurement matters.

In doing so, Defence Counsel noted that the  Ministery of Finance and Economic Development had already secured and lodged in the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF),  in November 11 2013, the amount of $2,000,000. Counsel tendered Exhibits H17/18/19 which are acknowledgement receipts from the Director – General at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Accountant General. The said Exhibits relate to the $2,000,000 lodged in the CRF.

PW1 admitted receiving these Exhibits from the Accountant General and to the fact that on to June 2016, when Cabinet sat to decide on the project, the money was still in the CRF.

On the procurement processes, Pa Momoh Fofanah opened his cross examination by asking PW1 whether he understood what constituted a ‘Procurement Entity’.  When PW1 responded that a “procurement entity is any institution or unit that is involved in the purchase of goods and services”.

Counsel then asked whether PW1 considered MFAIC as a procurement entity. Counsel also asked whether PW1 knew that there are usually ‘Procurement Committees” and/or ‘Procurement Units’ within institutions which should be staffed by personnel trained on procurement matters.

When PW1 answered to the above questions in the affirmative; the Defence Counsel for the First Accused further asked whether, during the course of his investigation, PW1 was able to ascertain the existence of a Procurement Unit, Committee’ or ‘trained procurement personnel’ at the Chancery Office in New York or at the MFAIC headquarters in Freetown.

PW1 admitted to the court that there were no ‘Procurement Officers’ or ‘Procurement Committees’ neither at the Chancery Office in New York nor at the MFAIC headquarters in Freetown. 

Monitoring/Supervision and Compliance with US Construction Laws and Obligations

Regarding monitoring/ supervision of the project implementation, the Defence Cousel sought to establish compliance with the construction laws of the United States of America. Using Exhibit H/14, Counsel put it to PW1 that Cabinet had authorized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC), the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), and the National Procurement Authority (NPA), to jointly monitor and supervised the project.

Defence Counsel also tendered in evidence Exhibit IRN/MS/03/P11 relating to three ‘Change Orders’ which laid out the stages of the project and the procedure for any changes to the original contract. In addition to the above Exhibit, Counsel further tendered in evidence Exhibit U which relates to the Contract between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Fairfield Construction Company. This relates to the construction of the additional 5th and 6th floors of the chancery building, according to Article 23:10, P23 of Exhibit U25.

Also tendered in evidence were P1/Article1/Para1.02 of Exhibit U, P16/Article 17 and Exhibit U1/Para16.01/02; all of which relate to dispute resolution mechanism and compliance with US Government laws as contained in the Contract.

Counsel therefore turned attention to the fact the Contractor informed the GoSL, through its Permanent Mission in New York, that he subcontracted other entities to help him finish the project. PW1 admitted to this and to the fact that the Contractor had paid off the subcontractors for the services they rendered.

Counsel further drew PW1’s attention to P4/22 of the Contract which states that the Contractor shall be fully responsible for the work and services of all subcontractors. It further states that the owner, which in this case is the GoSL, shall have no obligations to the subcontractors.

However, while Article 6/01of the Contract indicate that work to be performed shall commence only at the request of the Owner; Article 6/04 refers to the obligations of the Owner’s occupancy of the building during project work. Such obligations refer to any injuries or damage of property during such occupancy. Through this cross examination the Defence Counsel strived to make the point that the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission in New York undertook an exhaustive due diligence and followed through on the implementation of the project.

Regarding the payment to the Contractor, Defence Counsel referred PW1 to Article 4, P6 of the Contract and asked PW1 whether, in the course of his investigation and interviews of suspects, the Contractor informed that he had received the full payment for his work. To this; PW1answered in the affirmative.

Through further cross examination, PW1 admitted that P.9 of Exhibit F1-36 refers to initial payments of $2,560,000 and total payment of $ 4.000,000. PW1 further admitted that he did see the Contractor’s acknowledgment of receipt of both amounts which were written on the Contractor’s official letterhead.  

It could be recalled that Saidu Nallo, Dr Samura Kamara and three others were indicted by the ACC on November 23 2021 on 46 Counts Charges ranging from ‘Failure to Follow Procurement Processes’, ‘Misappropriation of Funds, and Deceiving a Principal’. The matter comes up again Thursday March 10 2022.

The matter was adjourned to Thursday March 10 2022.

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