As the treason trial makes progress, the 23rd prosecution witness Sergeant Mani Atomkuwa Saffea has revealed what he was told by the attackers.

He maintained that, they told him that they purposely came to clean up the rotten system of President Bio’s government and not to kill anybody in the process and that he was asked to join them after he was captured and placed under gunpoint by the assailants at Cockeril Military Barracks in Freetown on the day of the attack.

Making clarifications on the accused persons, he was led in examination in chief by State Prosecutor Aruna Jalloh where he recognised Koita as a brother in the army, Leigh the sixth accused as his squad mate, Ibrahim the ninth accused as his neighbour in Goderich and Hassan Kamara the twelfth accused persons.

He recalled being at home on the day of the attack when he heard gunshots from afar towards Wilberforce area which woke him up, and upon that he told the court that he went outside together with his friend Sergeant Koroma who made a call around and informed him that people have attacked Wilberforce Military Barracks.

He furthere revealed that he immediately left home and headed to his office at Murray Town Barracks unfortunately for him, when he got to Lumley and was about to board a vehicle, he felt a tap on his back and someone pointed him to a jeep where he saw a military Sergeant sitting in front of the jeep and Lieutenant Colonel Johnson attached to Goderich Barracks was driving and he asked him to join them but he told them he was going to Murray Town, adding that, Lt Col Johnson offered to give him a lift and he boarded the jeep and seated at the back.

He said when they approached Cockeril gate, he saw a corpse lying on the ground and someone from the attackers who wore military trousers and black t-shirts stopped them and Lt Col. Johnson introduced himself to the attackers and one of the attackers replied good, “you are one of the people we want,” he explained.

He stated that Sergeant Marka who was sitting in front had a weapon and one of the attackers held it and told him to let go of it but Sergeant Marka refused and they fought for the weapon while Lt Col. Johnson drove off towards Cockeril but hit an object, the car stopped and he opened the door and ran away while the attackers chased him.

Saffea further said that he and Sergeant Marka also ran towards the E.O.C inside Cockeril but the attackers shot an overhead shot at them and they dashed to the ground where the attackers who were dressed in military trousers and black t-shirts and fully masked up, captured and placed them under gunpoint.

He said when asked about their identity he told them he was a pastor and one of them asked if it was the pastor who worked at the Transport Unit in the military as that was his popular name (TPP). Saffea said the same assailant told his colleagues not to kill them as they had a good driver who would drive them.

He added that the same man who recognised him as a driver asked him and Sgt. Marka joined them as they did not come to kill anyone but wanted to clean up the rotten system. He said they agreed to join them and the attackers gave him one of the military vehicles to drive.However, upon his assessment of the vehicle, he told them that the front tyre was losing air and a bit flat and another attacker refused to give him the vehicle.

He revealed counting four vehicles together and mentioned that he saw the last one open with someone dressed in a full military uniform inside which attracted him to go closer to know who he was. Upon reaching there, he saw Colonel Sandy and heard him telling someone who was standing outside that he addressed as Koita.

He stated that he did not see Koita’s face as his back was turned towards them. Saffea disclosed that he heard Col. Sandy telling Koita that he did not have keys to any weapon dump or armoury in his office.“I have told you that even if I open my office, there is no key to the armoury Koita,” Saffea recounted.

Pius Sesay who represented Koita the first accused objected to Saffea’s mentioning of his client’s name because what he said was based on hearsay and not factual, But Hon. Justice Komba Kamanda ruled Sesay’s objection out because Saffea stated what he heard and that could not be referred to as hearsay.

Saffea continued and mentioned that while he was still standing with the attackers, another attacker stated that it was almost daybreak and they had to go to the Ordinance and Transport Squadron for more vehicles.

He told the court that one of the attackers came closer to him, pointed his gun at his feet and shot, but he quickly removed his foot and the bullet hit the ground. This made Koita ask who shot and warned them that no one should shoot again.

Sgt. Saffea said the attackers entered their vehicles and told him to stay at Cockeril and take care of the corpse on the ground.“One of them told me that there was one corpse at the gate, two at the corner and one at the Armed Forces Personnel Center (AFPC) who was a big military officer,” Saffea disclosed.

He mentioned that he watched as the attackers moved and got to the Chinese Restaurant at Wilkinson Road, then he ran off for safety towards the Air Wing where he met Sgt. Sandy and other military personnel.

He explained that he received a call from Sergeant Claye one of his colleagues at the Transport Unit asking about his location and he told him that he was captured and released by the attackers and relayed to him that the attackers were heading towards the Ordnance and Transport Unit. “I told Sgt. Claye about the attackers’ intention to attack the ordnance because of its importance to national security,” Saffea revealed.

Sesay asked for an adjourned date for the Defence to cross-examine Saffea, He however complained to Hon. Justice Kamanda that they were constrained to have a conference with Koita at the Correctional Centre even after they had written and asked the Director to grant them access.

“We have written the Director of the Correctional Centre to give us access to Koita but that request has not been approved yet,”

He added that the Centre is giving them limited access to his client at the Correctional Centre to which he said they have written a letter requesting access to him on April 5, 2024.

The matter was adjourned Thursday, April 11, 2024, by Hon. Justice Kamanda