PW2 Starts Examination in Samura Kamara Trial
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday presented its second Prosecution Witness (PW2) in the ongoing trial of Dr. Samura Kamara and five others.
While taking the oath before the court the ACC witness, who identified himself as Solomon Paul Banda Bockarie, disclosed that he was a Senior Civil Servant working at the Ministry of Works and Public Assets as the Chief Director since September 2020.
Solomon Paul Banda Bockarie gave a full background of his work profile and duties at the Ministry which, he noted, included providing technical advice and also to coordinate and supervise the developmental project at the Ministry. He also told the court that he was in charge of reviewing the policy programmes and strategies for the improvement of public works and assets.
He said he also supervised works undertaken by Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) including the renovation work on Sierra Leone’s Chancery Building in New York, United States of America.
While in the witness box, PW2 told the court that they were also responsible for receiving requests from MDAs in terms of rehabilitation, reconstruction and maintenance works and also responsible for the procurement, tender for recruitment of contractors and consultants for such works as may be requested by the relevant MDAs. He added that if the work was in a foreign mission, a contractor was being hired to do the contract management.
In his examination of PW2 lawyer for the ACC, Kenneth Conteh asked the witness to give the court some insights into a site monitoring mission undertaken by the Ministry of Works and Public Assets and other line Agencies on the renovation work on the country’s UN Mission building in New York on 17th October 2019.
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In his response, PW2 told the court that the said Mission was authorized by the Director General and Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, following a memo they received from the Ministry of Finance in relation to the renovation of the additional two floors of the building. He also wanted to present the said memo to the court as exhibit, but he was objected to by lawyer for the second accused person, Africanus Sesay, on the grounds that the document bore no connection to the witness and also because the proper foundation to tender the document was laid as the original of the said document was not presented before the court. At this point, Justice Adrian Fisher stood down the matter and asked the ACC to present the original document before the court would allow such document as an exhibit.
After the stand down, PW2 was able to produce the original document and read some parts of it to the court. During the examination, it was discovered that prior to the letters from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, PW2 did not have any knowledge about the said project between 2015-2016 and also no knowledge between 2018-2019.
It was also discovered that the first inspection of the project was done in 2019, during a four-day site visit by an inter-ministerial team and that after the visit an Assessment Report was prepared.
PW2 also revealed that the Ministry of Works and Public Assets was not involved in the procurement process of Fairfield Construction Company for the renovation work of the fifth and sixth floors. However, he noted that they were able to establish the cost of the project at US$1.9million of which US$329,000 was made as part payment. He also noted that the team recommended for the renovation of another building in New York housing senior government diplomats and also for the recruitment of a handyman to supervise the facilities.
Solomon Paul Banda Bockarie also made mention of some other documents he received via email from the first accused person. At this point, Lawyer Pa Momoh Fofanah objected to the email saying that there was nothing to show that the correspondence was from his client.
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The Nationalist Newspaper reports that, he further told the court that after that visit, he had no other involvement with the project until when the ACC requested him to do another Status Report containing in-depth details about the project.