The matter between the State vs. Samura Kamara and others resumed Monday, March 14 2022 at the Sierra Leone High Court No.1 which is presided over by Justice Adrian Fisher.

The defendants are answering to charges of ‘Misappropriation of Funds’, ‘Failure to Comply With Procurement Processes and Procedures’ and ‘Deceiving a Principal’, the latter of which is specific to Samura Kamara. The matter relates to the rehabilitation and refurbishment of Sierra Leone Chancery building in New York.

At Monday’s hearing, cross examination of the Principal Prosecution Witness PW1 Joseph Bockarie Noah, continued with Lead Defence Counsel Africanus Sorie Sesay, representing the 2nd accused, Ambassador Adakilie Suma.

Ambassador Suma was appointed as Sierra Leone’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in March 2016 by the erstwhile President but did not assume office until November 2016. By this time, according to the Lead Defence Counsel, the contract for the rehabilitation and refurbishment project had been awarded.

Lead Counsel Sesay also made the point that, following his assumption of duty, his client had clear instructions from his headquarters in Freetown to proceed with the final stages, including signing of the contract.

Counsel Sesay drew the attention of ACC’s Prosecution Witness Noah to Exhibits U & AQ1-4, dated September 6 2016 and ‘put it’ him that the exhibits included a letter marked MFA/Admin/ 101 from the director – general in Ministry of Foreign Affair and International Cooperation (MFAIC) to the then Head of Chancery, (HoC) Mr Alusine Sesay (now deceased). While that letter referred to a remittance of $1,000,000 as part payment for the said project, it also stated in the first paragraph of Page 3 that the signed contract was attached to show the basis for the payment.

The Lead Counsel also put it to the Prosecution Witness Noah that on page3 of the last paragraph on the same exhibits, the director – general at the time, Ambassador Andrew Gbaygbay Bangali gave specific instructions to the HoC regarding a Memoradum of Understanding dealing with the contract. The text in question read in part: “I further instruct that you proceed with the contract based on the ‘Legal Opinion’ provided by the solicitor – general.”

According to Defence Counsel Sesay, the director – general’s instruction drew strength from a report by a Sub – committee set up by Cabinet regarding the rehabilitation of the Chancery building. Counsel Sesay further stated that the Sub – committee in question was set up following a November 3 2015 Cabinet decision.

To hammer home the point that his client, Ambassador Suma had no hands in the award of the contract for the chancery building project, the Lead Counsel Sesay further drew the Prosecution Witness to series of exhibits which Counsel said touched on and concerned the issue of rehabilitation of the Chancery building.

“Exhibit AA and Exhibits B/1-16 and P/15 which Counsel said were specifically sent by the Director of Admin and Finance at MFAIC confirmed that the procurement process had commenced under the tenures of Ambassador Chidi Minah, director –general Andrew Gbaygbay Bangali and HOC late Alusine Sesay,

The ACC Prosecution Witness Joseph Bockarie Noah acknowledged the exhibits and conceded to the point that at the time the contract was awarded, indeed the 2nd accused Ambassador Suma had not taken up duty.

The Lead Defence Counsel further asked the ACC’s Chief Investigation Officer and PW1 whether Ambassador Chidi Minah and director – general Bangali were questioned during the course of the investigation.

“You didnt question the Ambassador Chidi Minah and director –general Bangali”, counsel said pointedly to PW1 Noah who responded that he was not part of the initial investigation team.

To this response, Counsel put it to PW1 that “Whether you were present or not; as head of the investigation, the files eventually gets to your table.” Counsel therefore expressed surprised that throughout the course of investigation leading to the preferring of such charges, particularly those relating to procurement, the prosecution did not find it important to question the senior officials who presided over the award of the said contract. Rather; they went on to charge his client who assumed office in November 2016, almost a year after the contract had actually been awarded.

The lead Defence Counsel also drew the court’s attention to an email dated September 21 2015 sent at 7:35pm by the Mr Alusine to the director -general Bangali and other senior Colleagues. The letter contained an attachment of documents relating to an invitation to bids for the rehabilitation of the Sierra Leone Chancery building in New York.

Lead prosecutor Matebo objected to the reference of an email which he said could not be verified but the the presiding judge, Honourable Adrian Fischer, overruled saying that the Defence has to be allowed to make their case and if in doing so it believes an exhibit could be valuable to their case, it would be given the opportunity to prove its authenticity.

Defence Council agreed with the reasoning of the judge and assured that the defence would appoint an IT expert to prove the authenticity of the email.

When PW1 was asked whether he was aware of the said email, he said: I am seeing it for the first time.”

The Defence further made the point that the said email actually stated that there were about 3 bids which were opened in October 2015 and again asked PW1 whether he was aware of this fact about the 3 bids.

Again the Lead Prosecution Counsel, Calvin Masebo objected saying that the Witness had said he had no hands in that initial investigation and so he couldn’t have known about the bids.

On this, the presiding judge asked why was Mr Masebo being jittery about that line of cross examination. The judge further asserted that the “Defence is trying to establish that procurement took place before his client assumed duty.”

The Defence continued to cross examine PW1 and asked why the ACC Chief Investigating Officer who is also the First Prosecution Witness whether, during the course of his investigation, he did review this information about the three bids to ascertain whether it was correct.

“I did not recall seeing this information in the bundle submitted to me and I did not receive any briefing on that, said PW1”

At this point, the Defence reminded Mr Noah (PW1) that the ACC spent a lot of resources, including dispatching a team of investigators to New York.

“Millions of Leones, time and energy were expended by dispatching a team of investigators to New York; yet when that team returned, you, the Chief Investigation Officer was not briefed and you did not take any followed up action to review that investigation to New York?”

Defence counsel then put it to PW1 that based on the deposition of the 6th accused named Jules Sanders, who is based in the New York and whom the ACC team of investigators interviewed in his capacity as President of the company to which the contract was awarded, Jules Sanders did not mention anything about the 2nd accused in the his statement.

The Defence referred PW1 to the Exhibit S 1-36 page 17, line 9, Exhibits Q25 at p25P2 and Exhibit A all of which he said relate to bids document and the deposition of the 6th accused, Jules Sanders.

At this point the presiding judge appealed to the Defence not to ‘over kill’ the prosecution Witness saying that there are 15 more witnesses to be cross examined. The judge said he had killed off his diary just to expedite this trial. The matter was adjourned to Tuesday March 15 2022