Magistrate Marke Ngegba who presides over Pademba Road Court No.1 in Freetown has on Friday 21st October 2022, turned down applications put forward by defense counsels in the ongoing preliminary investigation into alleged disorderly behavior involving the Mayor of Freetown City Council (FCC), Yvonne Aki- Sawyer.
Defense counsel, Pa Momoh Fofanah, applied for the statements of the witness Corporal 12225 Fanta Fofanah to be made available to them, noting that it is germane to their cross-examination of the witness.
He made this application under section 23 (5) (d) of the 1991 Constitution Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 of 1991. He added that the prosecution ought to have served them the statements of the witnesses that are going to testify in court.
In his response, State Prosecutor Yusuf Isaac Sesay objected to the application saying that the section cited by the defense e counsel is not in line with th application made. He added that testing the veracity of the witness comes during cross-examination and the application made by the defense is not timely and the law relied upon by the defense is not in tandem.
Lawyer Sesay stated that statements are made available to the defense under Section 190 of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1965, adding that the application made by defense counsel is not matured. He urged Magistrate Ngegba to discountenance the application.
Defense counsel noted a controversy in the statement that the witness made to the police and that of the one he made at the court, hence the reason for the request for the statement. Lawyer Fofana accused the Court that it is conducting a trial by ambush.
Magistrate Ngegba said Section C 190 is not the applicable section for such an application, adding that the said application would b not be granted because the proper foundation has not been laid.
In that case Lawyer Fofanah sought leave for an appeal challenging the ruling delivered by Magistrate Ngegba in the refusal for them to have access to the statements of the witness to the police.
He said Section 42 (1) of the Courts Act of 1965 stated that even the prosecution cannot be deprived of the right of getting access to statements made to the police. Magistrate Ngegba did not grant the said application to appeal the ruling and the reason stated was that the application made again by the defense counsel falls under the wrong section.
At this junction, an adjournment was taken. Earlier on the witness Corporal 12225 Fanta Fofanah attached to CID Lungi Police Station recalled that on the 17th of September 2022 she was on duty when the Operations Officer Inspector E.F Koroma and his team in the same division arrested and brought in Councillor Sheku Sesay for an alleged offense of planning and organizing the execution of the August 10 protest.
She disclosed that Councillor was handed over to their department for a caution statement to be obtained from him.
The witness continued that whiles Tucker was preparing the statement, she heard the voice of a woman at their charge office shouting “where is my Councillor and why was he arrested without a warrant”.
The witness said upon reaching the charge office she saw the Mayor and a military officer.
Fofanah disclosed that she cautioned the Mayor to calm down but she did not listen to her and kept on shouting, stating that the police haven’t any right to arrest the said Councillor without a warrant.
The witness furthered that the Mayor then entered the investigation room and stated that her Councillor would not make any statements because there was no warrant of arrest served on him.
Fofanah furthered that the Mayor then gave her cross bag to the Military Officer and she held the hands of the Councillor attempting to escort him outside the investigation room.
The witness added that she and Tucker rushed to the door to stop her not to take the said suspect anywhere, adding that she reminded the Mayor that she was obstructing their investigation.
According to the witness, it was at this time that the Mayor removed her cell phone and initiated a live video in which she disclosed that the police have arrested her Councillor without a warrant.
She mentioned that at this point she asked the Mayor to allow her to do her work, while she promised her that after they have finished their work they will hand over the suspect to the LUC for her to talk with him about the release of the suspect which she agreed.
The witness said she made statements at the police station. During cross-examination by defense Counsel Pa Momoh Fofanah, the witness told the Court that she was not present when the Councillor was arrested. The matter has been adjourned to the 26th of October 2022 while bail continues for the Mayor.