Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 January 2021:
The Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice informed the media at a press conference held at the Ministry of Information and Communications on Tuesday, 12th January 2021, that it has commenced legal action to confiscate properties belonging to Persons of Interest.
They said that ruling has been delivered in 15 of the first 20 cases involving houses and lands as part of the recovery process in the implementation of the Commissions of Inquiry recommendations.
Principal Legal Consultant in the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Lahai Momoh Farma, explained that the grace period for all those that were indicted in the COI reports expired on the 24th of December 2020.
According to Farma, the documents in respect of the 20 orders they took to court are presently with the Master and Registrar for approval and onward submission to the Government Printer for gazetting.
“Once gazetted we will announce the names and locations of the confiscated properties for the public to know,” Mr Farma assured.
He said that the President has been magnanimous enough to give all the indictees 90 days to repay all that they had allegedly embezzled but up to this moment some are hiding behind appeal.
“An appeal is not a stay of execution of judgment which will be implemented anyway. If the appellants win their appeal whatever might have been taken from them will be returned. But if on the other hand they lose the appeal they will forfeit everything and even be asked to pay interest on the principal they are supposed to pay, plus cost,” the Principal Legal Consultant warned.
Mr. Farma urged the 136 persons found wanting by the COI to adhere or face the full force of the law.
He said that government will use all peaceful or aggressive means if necessary to ensure that all the monies in the COI reports are recovered.
He disclosed that 85 of the persons of interest have appealed but that will not stop them from recovering what is due the state.
He informed the media that the accounts of all persons of interest had been frozen, except for few who have been given clearance to access their monies. “If it causes us to take the monies in their accounts to repay their loot we will do it; and if those monies are not enough, we will confiscate their properties and sell them until they fully repay,” he said.
In another development, the Head of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) – Francis Ben Kaifala speaking at a press conference organised by the ACC on Monday, updating journalists about the Auditor General’s Report, said: “We are going to recover all those monies”.
“We are coming strong. We are not going to take excuses. People are going to pay. People are going to prison. We are going to go after their properties. We are going to hit where it hurts them most. It’s not a threat it’s a promise”.