Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 October 2019:
Sierra Leone’s former minister of mines, who is also the current deputy chairman of the opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC) – Minkailu Mansaray, was last Friday discharged on all counts of corruption offences by High Court Judge – Justice Reginald Sydney Fynn, after a “no case submission” on his behalf was upheld.
But the trial – dubbed the Hajjgate corruption trial continues, with the country’s former vice president Victor Bokarie Foh and two others accused of corruption.
After the acquittal of the former mines minister, the Anti-Corruption Commission said it will review the ruling of the judge to determine whether further steps where necessary to bring the former minister to account for the alleged corruption charges.
In July 2018, former minister of mines – Minkailu Mansaray (Photo) along with the former vice president – Victor Bockarie Foh of the Koroma led APC government, were arrested by police on corruption charges.
Their arrests came after High Court hearing was filed in relation to allegations of misappropriation of funds meant to support the 2016 Hajj pilgrims, many of whom were left stranded at Lungi Airport unable to pursue their holy pilgrimage to Mecca.
Former vice president Foh denied receiving eighty-thousand dollars from the Hajj Committee which he described as insult to his personality. However, he accepted receiving sixty-thousand dollars from one Ibrahim Fakeh Conteh (5th defendant), who was introduced to him by the former president but later asked the 5th defendant to return the said money to the Anti-Corruption Commission.
The country’s Anti-Graft body alleged that eighty thousand United States Dollars were missing, in which six previous government officials, including former vice president Foh and former mines minister Minkailu Mansaray are accused of conspiring to commit corruption offence, contrary to the ACC Act of 2008.
Victor Foh – supervisor of the Hajj Committee, Minkailu Mansaray – Chairman of the Hajj Executive Committee, and Sheka Sahid Kamara – Special Assistant to former President Koroma and secretary of the Hajj committee, Mohamed Alie Bah – former Minister of State in the Office of the Vice President, Ibrahim Fakeh Conteh, and Abu Bakarr Carew – former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, were all brought before the court in August 2018 on eight count charges of conspiracy to commit a corruption offense, misappropriation of public funds and engaging in a project without prior planning.
In October 2018, Ibrahim Sesay, accountant at the Ministry of Social Welfare testified before Justice Reginald Fynn that all disbursement requests made by the 2017 Hajj Committee were granted.
Sesay, who was one of the signatories to the 2017 Hajj account further disclosed that on the 11 August 2017, the Hajj Committee made an erroneous request signed by the first accused, Sheka Sahid Kamara. He further added that the Office of the Vice President requested for $314,000 signed by Sheka Sahid Kamara and another request of $500,000 signed by the former Vice President, Victor Foh.
Sesay said the Ministry of Social Welfare also entered into a $2 million loan agreement with the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank. All of the money, he said, was sent to Saudi Arabia for the 2017 Hajj preparations.
Having approved the disbursement of $314,000 to the Hajj Committee, the witness revealed that he was surprised to know that the money was withdrawn from a different account to that which he had earlier approved.
The case involving former vice president Foh and other continues.