76 Court Told: Le300M Hajj Money in Limbo

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Margaret Michaela Goba, a teller at EcoBank Sierra Leone, confirmed the above in court during her testimony in the ongoing 2017 Hajj Corruption trial involving officials of the former All People’s Congress (APC) government.

The second prosecution witness Ms. Goba in the trial presided over by Justice Reginald Fynn, corroborated the testimony of another prosecution witness that 1st accused Sheka Sahid Kamara, former Special Assistant to ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma, that he had deposited 300 million Leones of the Hajj money into a joint bank account on behalf of the former president.

She recognised the 1st accused as one of the customers of the EcoBank and recalled the transaction on 18th August 2017 at around 3:30pm, when the first accused and his wife, Ann-Marie Kamara, and a boy walked into the bank and informed her that they wanted to deposit money into their joint account.

The witness said that because the money was huge, she took it to the bulk room of the bank and informed her boss that an amount of Le300 million was about to be deposited by a customer.

She testified that since the bulk teller was not around at the time, she decided to help facilitate the deposit process because the 1st accused had earlier informed her that he would be travelling out of the country on that same day.

She narrated that while on the process, the 1st accused enquired as to whether it was possible for him to open a new account. She responded in the affirmative and took him to the Customer Service Department where he filled all the necessary documents required to open a new account.

The witness said that the 1st accused later asked her to transfer the sum of Le250 million to the new account, but “I told him that it was impossible for the account to be functional on the same day because it has to go through processes.”

She informed the court that the 1st accused further instructed her to later transfer the sum of Le250 million to the new account and that he left the bank in a hurry.

As she continued her testimony, the witness said that on Monday, August 21, 2017, she received a mail informing her that the new account was now functional and that she later effected the transfer of Le250 million into the new account, as per the instruction of the 1st accused.

Besides, Sheka Sahid Kamara, the ACC also indicted the former Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh and Minkailu Mansaray, Deputy Chairman and Leader of the APC and former Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources.

Other accused persons include Mohamed Alie Bah, Ibrahim Fakeh Conteh and Abu Bakarr Carew, former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs. They all face eight counts of corruption-related charges.

According to the ACC, all accused persons on diverse dates between 1st January and 30th September 2017 conspired to misappropriate eighty thousand United States Dollars (USD $80,000) donated to the government of Sierra Leone for Muslims to perform the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The ACC is also alleging that Sheka Sahid Kamara, Victor Bockarie Foh, Minkailu Mansaray, Mohamed Alieu Bah, and Abu Bakarr Carew on dates unknown between 1st of January and 30th September 2017 conspired to engage in a project without prior planning and conspired to undertake preparation for the 2017 Hajj pilgrimage.

The Commission further claims that the accused persons conspired to knowingly mislead the ACC by making statements to the investigators that the sum of US$60,000 was handed over to the 2nd accused person former Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh by 1st accused person Sheka Sahid Kamara when the actual amount was US$80,000.