Abass Sesay, fourth prosecution witness and also an errand boy to Sheka Sahid Kamara on Monday 15th October 2018 told the Court that after his boss deposited Le 300 million at Eco bank, his boss later loaded Le 45 million and $ 80,000 respectively which he said his boss told him he will leave in the hands of former Vice President Victor Foh before he left for Saudi.
Sesay said he was not present when Kamara handed over the said money. New evidence in Court on Friday 12 October 2018 by Sulaiman Turay, a staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also revealed that on the 16th August 2017, Minkailu Mansaray asked him to negotiate with the Saudi government to increase Sierra Leone quota of pilgrims for 2017 hajj. Turay said he denied Mansaray’s request stating that Sierra Leone had 1,000 slots but the government opted for 800.
He added that Minkailu Mansaray deleted 17 people from the system just to make space for other applicants. Bank transfers and financial authorisations involving the 2017 Hajj scandal have been tendered before the Court. A 15-page bank statement and 10-page bank statement were obtained from the two accounts at the banks operated by the 2017 Hajj Committee.
The Court has also recorded an application for former President Ernest Koroma and the secretary to President Bio, Julius Sandy, the then secretary to former Vice President Foh to testify on the matter. Former Vice President Victor Foh, former Mines Minister, Minkalu Mansaray, Abubakarr Carew, Fackeh Conteh, Mohamed Alie Bah, Minister of State and Sheka Sahid Kamara, Special Assistant President’s Office and Social Affairs face eight charges including Conspiracy to Commit Corruption Offences, Misappropriation of Public Funds, and misleading the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
According to the ACC, the accused persons are former executive members of the 2017 Hajj Committee. They were acting on the Committee that was supposed to organize and implement activities leading to a pilgrimage to Mecca. They are accused of stealing $80,000 USD, between 1st January to 30th September 2017.
The “Hajj-gate” corruption scandal rocked the Muslim community in 2017. Devout pilgrims complained of being duped, over-charged and misled by members of the Hajj Committee of government. After almost a year of investigation, an election and new appointments, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) reopened the matter.
A sealed indictment by the former Anti-Corruption Commissioner was opened in July 2018 and implicated former Vice President Victor Foh, former Mines Minister, Minkailu Mansaray, Abubakarr Carew, Fackeh Conteh, Alhaji M.A. Bah, Minister of State and Alhaji Sheka Kamara, Special Assistant, Office of the President, Social Affairs. Three officials were called back to Freetown after having arrived in Mecca because of the scandal.
Alhaji Sheka Kamara, Special Assistant, Social Affairs, Office of the President; Nuru Deen Sankoh Yilla, Special Assistant, Political Affairs, Office of the President; and Alhaji M.A. Bah, Minister of State, Office of the Vice President were sacked by former President Koroma for turning the government’s Hajj scholarship into their personal use. Victims of Hajj corruption alleged that the three sacked officials including Bah, Kamara (Shekito) and Nurudeen Sankoh, all “Special Assistants to H.E Ernest Bai Koroma on Social and Political Affairs” were heavily involved in the corruption mess around the Hajj.
By Sylvia Villa
Tuesday October 16, 2018.