Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 May 2019:
The suspended president of the Sierra Leone Football Association Madam Isha Johansen, along with the Association’s Secretary General – Chris Kamara, have today been acquitted and discharged by the High Court in Freetown, presided by Justice Reginald Fyn.
Both were accused of impropriety and charged with corruption two years ago by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
But in a dramatic end to the case in Freetown today, Justice Fyn ordered that both be acquitted and discharged (Photo).
In November 2017, Isha Johansen and Chris Kamara appeared before Justice Fyn, when the former ACC Czar Ady Macauley requested changes to the charges brought against the pair. They were charged on the following counts:
Count 1 – Misappropriation of donor funds contrary to Section 37 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008. According to the particulars of offence, the two accused persons misappropriated Fifty Thousand United States Dollars, being funds donated to the SLFA by the Confederation of African Football for the purpose of conducting Magnetic Resonance Tests (MRTs) on thirty members of the Sierra Leone Under 17 National Team in Niger.
Count 2 – Conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, contrary to Section 128 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008. According to the particulars of offence, the two accused persons misappropriated the sum of twenty-four million seven hundred and fifty thousand Leones, by issuing an SLFA cheque in the said amount and endorsed in the name of Arne Johansen, purportedly as repayment of a loan given to the SLFA by the said Arne Johansen.
Counts 4 to 10 (against the first accused Isha Johansen) – Abuse of office contrary to Section 42 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008. The particulars of offence state that the first accused on diverse dates disbursed over six thousand US Dollars of SLFA funds to facilitate the travelling of one Mohamed Ola Marah who is not an employee of the Association.
Count 11 – (against the second accused Chris Kamara) – Misappropriation of public funds contrary to Section 36(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008. The particulars of offence state that Kamara misappropriated the sum of Five Million Five Hundred Thousand Leones, purportedly as payment for the use of his personal computer.
After two years and the ACC failing to prove its case, Justice Fyn has today acquitted both accused and granted them discharge.
Responding to the Court’s decision, the Anti-Corruption Commission this afternoon confirmed that the matter is now closed and that both can now go back to running the Sierra Leone Football Association. (Photo below: ACC Chief – Francis Ben Kaifala).
This is the ACC statement:
“The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to inform the public that the High Court of Sierra Leone Holden in Freetown, and presided over by Justice Reginald Sydney Fynn Jr., has on Monday 27th May, 2019 acquitted and discharged Madam Isha Johansen, and Mr. Chris Kamara, President and Secretary General respectively, of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), on three counts of corruption offences contrary to the Anti-Corruption Act 2008.
“The ACC, which has as its bedrock, adherence to the due process, accepts the judgment of the court while our prosecutors are reviewing our next steps in line with the law.
“The Department of Prosecution will therefore review the judgment and the decision of the court, and a decision will be taken in due course whether or not to appeal the judgment.
“The Commission wishes to reaffirm its position that a public official standing trial has to stand suspended until the end of the trial. Since in this case, the trial has now ended, Madam Johansen and Mr. Kamara will henceforth continue to serve as President and Secretary General respectively of the SLFA going forward without any interference or hindrance from the ACC.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission wishes to reassure the general public of its resolve to fight corruption and pursue justice at all times without fear or favor.”
After two years trying to clear her name and reputation, Isha Johansen has finally achieved justice. Whether she will want to continue leading Sierra Leone’s footbal association remains to be seen, as she may want to utilise her talent in helping to develop Sierra Leone in other ways.