By Janet Sesay
Justice Bintu Aladdin of the High Court of Sierra Leone yesterday ordered the Anti Corruption Commission to investigate the Deputy Immigration Officer.
The Presiding Chief Justice made this order when defense counsel Amadu Bah, representing the first accused in the matter between the ACC and the Master and Registrar and three others, presented to her a letter signed by the Deputy Chief Immigration Officer that the passport of the first accused has expired since May 2018.
It was recalled that the first accused and three others involved in the matter were earlier on granted bail by the court. The bail condition ordered that they submit their travelling documents. First accused had presented to the court an expired passport book, but as the investigation unfolds it was discovered that he holds an updated passport and hence his bail was revoked by the judge.
Presenting the letter in court, defense counsel said that he received the letter lately from the Immigration Department and he was unable to serve the prosecution lawyer and the court for them to know the contents of the letter before coming to court.
He noted that in the said letter it was stated that the passport of the first accused had expired since 2018 and it was signed by the Deputy Chief Immigration Officer, who acknowledged that the passport of the first accused had expired since May 2018.
After the said submission the defence then adopted his previous application for bail against the backdrop that this client is not a flight risk and will not jump bail.
Lawyer Sowe of the Anti-corruption Commission replied that it was a criminal trial and that he strongly believes that proper practice demands for clarification on the status of the accused passport. This clarification, he went on, must go through the court and it is not for the defense counsel to come to court and make a submission on behalf of the Deputy Immigration Officer.
He prayed to the court to request the presence of the Chief Immigration Officer to clarify the contents of his letter.
Third accused, Abubakarr Bangura, was not present in court and it was reported that he is unwell and presently undergoing treatment at the Correctional Centre.
His lawyer, E.T. Koroma, made bail application on his behalf, noting that his life is at risk if he continues to stay at the Correctional Center. He pleaded with the bench to choose any hospital for the third accused to be admitted in order to save his life.
In her ruling Justice Bintu Aladdin first of all refused the bail applications made by both defense counsels and ordered that an investigation should be done on the letter signed by the Deputy Chief Immigration Officer dated 8th May, 2019. She also ordered that a medical report should be produced to the court on behalf of the third accused to prove that he is unwell.
The accused are in court on three counts ranging from conspiracy to commit a corrupt offence, misappropriation of public funds and abuse of office, all contrary to the laws of Sierra Leone.
Court details state that the accused, between 12th and 28th February 2019 in Freetown, conspired together with other persons unknown to misappropriate the sum of sixty million leones (Le60,000,000), being payment made for a fine by Shears Moses at the High Court.
The matter was adjourned to the 13th May 2019 for continuation.
By Janet Sesay