Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 June 2021:
Diana Konomanyi, a former minister of lands and later minister of local government in the Ernest Bai Koroma APC government, who was accused and found guilty of corruption by a Commission of Inquiry established by President Julius Maada Bio to investigate the affairs of the former government, was on Monday vindicated by the country’s court of appeal.
The Court of Appeal presided by Justice Fatmata Bintu Alhadi (Photo) and comprised of two other Judges – Justice Mrs. Tonia Barnett, and Justice Komba Kamanda, ruled that the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) against Finda Diana Konomanyi be set aside.
Delivering the judgment which was read by Justice Komba Kamanda, the court ruled that after a thorough examination of the totality of the evidence before the court, the recommendation of the COI Judge – Justice Biobele Georgewill in respect of confiscating the Appellant’s premises at 1 Albert Lavaly Street Adonkia Goderich, in Freetown must be set aside including the Commission’s adverse findings.
However, the Presiding Judge – Justice Fatmata Bintu Alhadi stated that she could not agree with the Appellant – Diana Konomanyi when she argued that the Sole Commissioner exceeded his jurisdiction in its entirety, and therefore dismissed Ground One of the appeal.
In respect of Grounds 6 and 7 of the Appellant’s case, Justice Alhadi stated that the Sole Commissioner’s ruling of the 14th of February 2019 was correct and didn’t misapply the law.
“I agree with the Counsel for the Respondent. Grounds 6 and 7 must therefore fail and are hereby dismissed. In light of the conclusions reached, this appeal is dismissed on Grounds 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Ground 2 is upheld,” Hon. Justice Alhadi stated.
Disagreeing with the Commission’s recommendation in pronouncing the Appellant guilty and sentenced to prison for a term of 6 months or pay a fine of Le30,000,000, she ordered the ACC to prosecute the Appellant for violating Section 119 of the ACC Act of 2008 (as amended) in that the Appellant deliberately refused to declare her assets for the period under review.
The Presiding Judge in her consequential Orders, ordered that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) conducts a forensic valuation, audit and investigation of the said property at Adonkia and her sole proprietorship business and her companies in order to establish and discover her financial transactions, profit and loss accounts and cash flow under the ACC Act of 2008 (as amended) and the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2012 (as amended).
But Counsel acting for Diana Konomanyi – Lawyer Ibrahim Sorie, argued that the Sole COI Commissioner – Justice Biobele Georgewill, misdirected himself and erred in law by acting as a Court of Law and convicting the Appellant for the offence of failure to declare assets. (Photo: Diana Konomanyi).
Lawyer Ibrahim Sorie further told the court that the Sole COI Commissioner did not only fail to adequately consider all the evidence adduced before the court, but he also failed in making a distinction between a sole proprietorship and a limited liability company.
He went on to argue that the Commission didn’t accord his client the fair opportunity to be heard, adding that the findings and recommendations of the Commissions were against the weight of the evidence presented at the proceedings.
After listening to the arguments by counsels representing the State and Ms Konomanyi respectively, Justices Mrs. Tonia Barnett, and Komba Kamanda, ruled that the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) against Finda Diana Konomanyi be quashed, thus overruling the presiding Judge – Fatmata Bintu Alhadi.
This judgement against the findings and recommendations of the COI will be seen as a test case for several former government officials found guilty of corruption by the COI, that many have long argued to have acted outside its legal powers. They too will be looking to be exonerated by the Appeals Court.
You can read the full judgement here:
Please don’t take my statement literally. If a former minister in this case study, Diana Konomanyi was acquitted by two to one judgement in the court of appeal of Sierra Leone on corruption charges, I salute her to be one of Sierra Leone finest public servant (minister). But at the same time, I find is hard to apprehend that such person in past ministerial position is of 100% clean of corruption in Sierra Leone. Corruption in Sierra Leone is like a disease we all know that. Praise be to God to see and hear that a former minister is clean of corruption. Is this a game changer for Sierra Leone on corruption?. This should be an example for our current and future would be ministers to follow the footsteps of the former minister, Diana Konomanyi’s corruption free records. If at least half of our former ministers were like Diana, Sierra Leone would have been a paradise to leave in and be proud of. BUT OOYA, LOOK WUSAI WE DAE TAI TIDAY.
The judgement in favour of Diana Konomanyi says many things. Principally, it says that The COI was a waste of time and money. The time of the Jurists is now being implicitly disregarded and trampled on by our judicial system . Secondly ,our judges are telling us that the jurists who formed the panel of COI were poor investigators and uneducated in legal issues, thereby rendering their findings useless – null and void. Thirdly ,the ruling in favour of Diana shows how rotten our judicial system is, manned by people whose experience and credentials are in urgent need of reexamination to verify their authenticity. These judges are the type that would lock up Angel Gibril/Gabriel and set free Shaitan/ Satan because the latter appeared to them at dead of night and deceived them with a few dollars, while promising them other worldly things, and assured them that he was more powerful than the Almighty.
The whole idea behind COI is now in pieces. A dangerous and odious precedent has been set by Alhadi, Kamanda and Bernett. Effectively, all the criminality perpetrated by Diana and the entire former APC government led by Earnest Koroma never happened. Everything stolen from us can now be confidently kept by the criminals. It means, as a people, we have lost once again, and can go on shedding more tesrs.
Sadly Bio too has lost his way. Thievery has become one of the pillars of his government. Why should he press the former APC government any further when he dirties his own backside every day. At some point he will have to get up and expose it to the nation . He has contrived to go easy on the party that could succeed him, so that they might reciprocate. Mother Sierra Leone is going no where. I shall note down the names of the three judges. If they ever apply for an international job which comes to my attention, I shall contact the body concerned to be very wary of them and explain why.
I do live right across the street where the late father of Diana K. was living. She’s a good woman I know. All my hope is for her to get out of this mess. She could’ve learnt her lesson since 2015 when all of them were secretly betraying the then Vice President chief Sam Sumana”. I was one one of her strong supporters, but after the palace coup against Chief S.S. I ended my support for her. Ms. Diana Finda Konomanyi, I wish you good luck in your appeal.
The justice system in Sierra Leone can only work, if we have judges that render their verdicts after reviewing all the evidence presented before them in a court of law, before reaching a judgement of this nature .All credit goes to the three supreme Court appeals judges. Finally our justice system is taking its baby steps.Coming in the wake of Major Poalo Conteh’s and Dr Blyden, not guilty verdicts, our justice system is now firmly anchored on the right tracks. Long it may able to stand up independently, and take that gaint leap we are all willing it to take. The concept of the independence of the judiciary, has to be, in carrying out their duties,our judges has to be seen as independently minded in making their judgements with out undue influence from politicians, or private citizens involved in a dispute.In effect they are the principal arbiters of dispute between the citizens, and the States. Also Judges are there to uphold the constitution, and interpret the laws of the land not as they see fit, but as proscribed by the law.
What this case have highlighted , and nowithstanding the three supreme court judges coming to agreement in all but one challenge brought forward by the appellant, and in setting aside, the initial judgement made against Mrs Daina Konomanyi,and the decenting vioce made by judge Fatima Bintu, regarding the appellant’s challengeing the powers exircise by the sole commissioner in his initial judgment he made against her, for failing to declear her assets, that Justice Biobele Georgewill misdirected himself, and was making pronouncements outside the scope of the remits given to him, before his investigation to the matter started. Though that was uphelded, the rest was a case of Bio taking a revenge against a former minister. More like the judge was not adhering within the powers given to him. Effectively becoming a law unto himself or even breaking the law himself.
Now that something worth debating about. In her fight to clear her name of all corruption charges , one can clearly see why Mrs Konomanyi, will draw some sympathy from some sections of the public , because the vast majority of Sierra-Leoneans will see the case as politically motived, or put simply as vendettas politic, which as we all know Bio have mastered . And Sierra-leoneans are in the habit of supporting the underdog.We don’t just like people to take advantage over others. So there is a limit to our tolerance level. And the fact that President Bio was using a Nigerian judge to do the dirty laundry for him, against his fellow Sierra-leoneans, that found themselves in the wrong side of the political fence doesn’t help to dispel the suspicious, Bio is not fighting corruption, but fighting the wrong battles for his own political survival .
Ladies and Gentlemen. This is the First step to take the Presidency home for the APC for safe keeping. Remember what I said from the onset about this bogus case against one of Sierra Leone’s most competent, diligent, charismatic and potential President and Commander in Chief of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Diana Konomanyi. I said it from the begging that Ms Diana Konomanyi like many APC members have done nothing wrong.
Our Judges are the best amongst the best. Why sideline them in such a very important national issue? Bringing in an outsider to judge and condemn Sierra Leoneans who did nothing wrong is completely unacceptable. Nonsense! The decisions of that COI must be revoked. Period! I will continue to parrot on this issue till all the innocent condemned by an outsider be freed. Yeah. Thanks to Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas and The Sierra Leone Telegraph Newspaper for providing us with this brilliant article. I will waste no time in making use of my political ammunition. The political blast off has just begun. “We day nar road”. TBC.
exonerating Lady Diana Konomanyi from all charges is a testament that the country’s justice system works. Of course a huge congratulations to the Lady and equally so to the government of Sierra Leone for not interfering in all the deliberations. As Sierra Leoneans we should be happy that for once in decades we are beginning to see the end of political intimidation. Thanks to President Bio.
The justice system in Sierra Leone must take more than half of the credit for such judgement. Also a huge thank you to President Bio and government for not interfering with the the justice system. To lady Diana Konomanyi i say congratulations for such a landmark victory.
Dearly Beloved – Where are thine evil enemies that hurled words of utter contempt and scorn upon thee? Who is it that dug a pit for thee but has fallen into it head long themselves? Hath the wicked fallen by the devices and schemes of their own hands? Answer – Who is he that had once condemned thee? Beloved,Hath no man outrightly condemned thee? No? Neither do I condemn thee – Go thy way in peace and I wish you Godspeed – Diana Konomanyi.(lol)
As it was for Denis Vandi (now minister of Finance) so shall it be for Madam Diana Konomanyi. In fact as far as the Sierra Leone born Judges are concerned, nobody committed any crime during the erstwhile government of President Ernest Bia Koroma. I wish to see the comments of those who cast aspersion at the findings of the Appeal Court Judgement in the Denis Vandi’s case. I also wish to see their take on whether or not President Bio interfered the findings of the Appeal Court Judges in the Diana Konomanyi case to acquit madam Diana Konomanyi.
Hi Hip Hip, Hurrah Sierra Leone trained Judges. You are the best. You only know the law when it comes to petty criminals. What a waste of precious time and resources.