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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Palo Conteh Faces Judgment Day Soon

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Hon. Justice Alhaji Momoh Jah Stevens adjudicating over the ongoing alleged Treason case against Alfred Palo Conteh and two others in the High Court of Sierra Leone has said he will do his summing up for the Jury to have a clear picture and understanding before they return with a verdict on the matter.

When the presiding judge concludes his summing up to the Jury, they are expected to retired and later return with a verdict of guilty or not guilty in respect of the charges pressed against the Rtd Major Alfred Palo Conteh, Rtd Col. Anthony Sinnah and Prince George Hughes.

The presiding judge assured the Jury that he would do his summing up in written and submit it to the Jury, as they are the judges of fact or called them reasonable men of the world, and to further enable the jury to deliver a truthful verdict.

It is also important for the public to note that both the Prosecution and Defense had concluded their addresses to the Jury, which is apparently and gradually bringing the Treason trial to a final conclusion.

But before the Defense Lawyer for the second accused person Rtd Col. Saa Anthony Sinnah concluded his summing up to the Jury, he argued that his Client has nothing to do with the ongoing alleged Treason matter before the High Court Sierra Leone.

Lawyer Roland Wright further argued that to assassinate a Head of State is not a treasonable offence, and that there is nowhere in the world such an offence constitutes treason.

He told the Jury that the Prosecution has woefully failed to show or adduce any evidence to show to that the first accused person Alfred Palo Conteh went to State House with a Block 17 Pistol to Assassinate President Julius Maada Bio.

Lawyer Wright submitted that his client stands charged with the offences of Abetting and Procuring Arms and Ammunition, and that the Prosecution is deliberating refusing to accept and digest that his client only performed his statutory and administrative role, when he approved license to Alfred Palo Conteh for his Block 17 Pistol at the Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms.

He added that it is clearly stated in the Small Commission Act that when the Registrar of the Commission is absent, his deputy assumes the responsibility of approving licenses to applicants seeking to secure fire arms at the Commission.

Lawyer Roland Wrights stated that the prosecution wants the Jury to believe that his client is guilty of the charges brought against him, but that the Jury should use their sense of judgment and good conscience in favor of his client.

He concluded by stating that his Client Rtd Col. Saa Anthony Sinnah is innocent of all the charges brought against him, and urged the Jury to return a verdict of not guilty in  favor of his Client.

Furthermore, Counsel for the third accused person Prince George Hughes, Amadu Koroma Esq. made similar submissions to the Jury that his Client is innocent of all the charges preferred against him, and canvassed the Jury to deliver a verdict of not guilty in favor of the third accused person.

Lawyer Amadu Koroma further told the Jury that if the lower court had conducted a proper and intensive preliminary investigation into the alleged Treason matter, his Client would not have been charged to court.

He submitted that the third accused person, Prince George Hughes is charged with the offences of Abetting and Making False Statement on Oath, on behalf of the third accused person, but that when the prosecution and the defense closed their case, his Client did not take the witness stands, neither did he lead evidence.

The learned Counsel stressed that the burden lies with the prosecution to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt, as he who alleges must prove.

He further told the Jury to fear God Almighty when delivering their verdict, as the people of this country and the world over are very much interested and are closely monitoring the ongoing alleged treason matter.

He canvassed the Jury to return a verdict of not guilty in favor of Prince George Hughes, on the grounds that the prosecution has woefully failed to adduced any evidence that warrant the three accused persons, Alfred Palo Conteh, Saa Anthony Sinnah and Prince George Hughes culpable of treasonable and other felonious offences.

After Counsels for the  three accused persons had concluded their addresses to the Jury, the State Prosecutor, Adrian Fisher told the Jury to discountenance their submissions, as the evidence adduced at the trial is credible and sufficient enough to hold the three accused persons culpable for the offences charged.

The matter comes up today Wednesday 1st July for the trial judge to do his summing up on the matter, after which the Jury will deliver their verdict.

World Bank Boosts Salone Free Education with $50M Grant

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors yesterday June 30 approved a $50 million grant to support the Government of Sierra Leone’s flagship program for Free Quality School Education launched in 2018.

The Free Education Project will support some initial COVID-19 response activities, including provision of distance learning and communication campaigns on prevention.

Sierra Leone has made significant gains in school enrollment, but education outcomes and skills acquisition are among the lowest in Africa. The education sector also faces issues of deep inequities in access, weak governance, and inefficient public spending and management.

The project will help address these challenges, as well as strengthen existing mechanisms for reporting violence in schools, including sexual and gender-based violence through effective sensitization and prevention measures.

“This financing will support the government’s commitment toward achieving a more inclusive approach to quality education, increasing the retention of girls, especially in secondary school, and improving the learning environment for children with disabilities,” said Gayle Martin, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone.

“The project focuses on strengthening the education system in areas of policy, governance, accountability, and administration as part of the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Framework for Sierra Leone.”

Education and human capital more generally, is one of the Government’s national priorities as articulated in the Medium-Term National Development Plan 2019-2023. The Government launched the Free Quality School Education Program to ensure free education for all basic and senior secondary students in the country.

“This project is well aligned with the Government’s and the World Bank Group’s priorities, focusing on addressing education sector challenges and transforming the education system over the long term for the children of Sierra Leone. It emphasizes on the importance of investing in human development as well as decentralizing delivery of basic education services,”said Mari Shojo, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and Task Team Leader.

Specifically, the project will finance the construction of approximately 510 furnished classrooms to meet the immediate infrastructure needs in basic education and provide community-managed and performance-based grants to primary schools for improved school performance and accountability.

It is expected to benefit 2.4 million students, 75,000 teachers and members of School Management Committees and Board of Governors in 9,300 primary and secondary schools. Over the medium term, it will support communities and local stakeholders in building their capacity and promoting ownership and accountability.

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