The previous file brought against Nabie Unisa Raymond Bangura and four others has been discharged with the State bringing fresh charges against the Hon. Saidu Emmanuel Conteh and Agnes Korto Reffle.

Both are before Principal Magistrate Sahr Kekura of the Pademba Road Court No. 1 under Preliminary Investigation (PI) on seventeen count charges of Conspiracy to commit a felony to wit the Illegal Importation of Arms and Ammunitions without lawful authority, Transfer of Small Arms into Sierra Leone without valid lincense, Importation of Small Arms into Sierra Leone among others. No plea was taken.

State Counsel Joseph A.K. Sesay informed the Court that they intend to proceed but before that they need to make a brief adjustment on the previous file.

He said in view of case file number 1486, the prosecution has no intention to go further with that matter and entreated the Court to discharge the accused persons on that file and all exhibits to be returned to them.

In light of the submission made, Magistrate Sahr Kekura discharged all accused persons pursuant to Section 94 of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1965 and ordered for all exhibits to be handed over to them. The 3rd and 4th accused persons were also discharged.

Proceeding with the new file, the state called on its first witness Mohamed Massaquoi a custom officer attached to the National Revenue Authority and in his testimony briefly described some of his responsibility not limited to providing protection for the revenue, facilitate grade, check restricted and prohibited goods, verified container inspections and later stamped and signed the documents for release.

He recognized all three accused persons in the dock adding that on the 2nd July 2021, he was on duty when he received a phone call from one Mohamed Sannoh. Based on the said information he went to the site and on arrival met Mohamed Sannoh, one ASP Isatu Kargbo, Mr. Kamara and Mr. Murana all Intelligent Officers attached to the Intelligent Office at the port who informed him that they have detected a gray plastic bag containing arms and ammunitions.

He said the vehicle was properly searched in his presence and he asked the OSD officer attached to take the plastic bag and the other parties to follow him to his office.

He said in reaching his office, he asked ASP Isatu Kargbo and Mr. Kamara and Victor Murana counted the ammunition, “I saw seven pistols, twelve empty magazines, one hundred cartilages.”

He later instructed Mr. Kamara to take note of the items and requested for the delivery order in order to ascertain whether the items are stated therein but to no avail.

On that point he altered the Commissioner of Customs and informed him immediately and instructed ASP Isatu Kargbo and inform the Assistant Inspector General of Police East and the Local Unit Commander.

He was still in his office when 3rd accused Hon. Saidu Emmanuel Conteh surfaced and introduced himself, “I responded and further asked him what I will do for him and he told me he is there in respect of one vehicle that has issue with customs.”

The accused told him that it was a Nissan Pathfinder and he called for Mr. Kamara to show him photo of the vehicle which 3rd accused confirmed.

Explaining further, he said he asked Mr. Kamara and Murana to step aside and draw the attention of 3rd accused to the items found and he (3rd accused) stood up and denied the vehicle.

He said after questioning with regards the said vehicle 3rd accused said the said vehicle is owned by one Unisa in Pennsylvania and he asked him for the 3rd to send the details and 3rd accused told him that the vehicle was cleared by one Mr. Carew.

The said Carew was called by the 3rd accused on phone and he introduced himself as Mr. Massaquoi from custom Anti-Smuggling Unit at the Queen Elazibeth II Quay and said that they have opned a container on the on-stuffing site.

He said Mr. Carew further informed him that four vehicles are in the container and one of them belongs to Hon. Emmanuel Saidu Conteh.

The witness furthered that when he (Mr. Carew) contacted 3rd accused via phone he (3rd accused) instructed him not to touch anything inside the vehicle until he returned from Parliament.

He said the act was unfortunate because it was a crime against customs and that arms and ammunitions are restricted goods, at this point the AIG and LUC entered the office and he handed over the items to them in the presence of the Customs Commissioner.

Just as they wanted to take the 3rd accused to the Inspector General of Police, the witness said they saw the 1st and 2nd accused who entered the Commissioner’s office and they all explained what transpired with regards the arms and ammunitions.

The 1st accused was asked whether he is aware of the arms and ammunitions and he responded in the affirmative adding that he was the one that send the vehicle to the 3rd accused and he (1st accused) apologized for whatever embarrassment he has caused them.

At this point the Commissioner then handed over the suspects and exhibits to the Police for investigations and ASP Isatu Kargbo ordered their arrest.

When answering to question posed to him by Prosecuting Counsel Lawyer JAK Sesay, as to whether the 1st accused has lincense to import cartridges. He said the country of origin of the container is the United States of America.

At the conclusion of his testimony, Lawyer Emmanuel Teddy Koroma applied for bail for 1st and 2nd accused persons while Lawyer Lansana Dumbuya did same for the 3rd accused quoting Section 79 of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1965 and the Bail Regulations of 2018.

The latter added that his client 3rd accused Hon. Saidu Emmanuel Conteh has complied with all the conditions on the previous file up to the point of reporting on a daily bases to the Police.

In response Lawyer JAK Sesay said bail is the discretion of the bench adding that the 1st accused has no fix abode hence posed a flight risk.

However, Magistrate Kekura refused both 1st and 2nd accused persons bail and granted bail to the 3rd accused in the sum of five hundred million Leones with two sureties each in like sum. He said the sureties should be elderly and responsible citizens who are gainfully employed and one should produce a Title Deeds worth the afore-said amount.

Additionally, 3rd accused should report to the police alone with his solicitor on a daily basis and such approval must be done by an officer with the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) for and on behalf of the Inspector General of Police and bail to be approved by the Master and Registrar of the High Court of Sierra Leone. The matter adjourned to Thursday 12th August 201.