After months of investigations at the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) as well as arguments by counsel representing Persons of Interest, the Commission has commenced oral closing submissions from both sides. The Commissioner, William Atuguba, has started hearing oral submissions on the Road Maintenance Fund Administration (RMFA), HFC Mortgage bank and the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA). Counsel Africanus Sorie Sesay, representing Persons of Interest, Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay, former Minister of Works and Ahmed Kanu, former Deputy Minister of Lands, highlighted contributions coming into the National Social Security Insurance Trust (NaSSIT) are from individuals and as such, they are “not Public funds.” Sesay noted that there is no law that stated clearly that such contributions are public funds hence, it is not the business of the Commission to investigate. It is the contributors that have the sole right to take an action against NaSSIT because the establishment itself is a private transaction with contributions deducted from employees’ salaries. Counsel Sesay is of the conviction that the Commission is looking into two transactions between landowners in Songo and the Commerce and Mortgage Bank (CMB) because the State is not owner of CMB Bank but rather NaSSIT. He went on that NaSSIT is not in anyway under investigation before the Commission but rather CMB bank, hence, NaSSIT can control its company, CMB bank, using their internal mechanisms as shareholder of the Bank. Africanus Sesay said CMB never acted as an agent for NaSSIT but with the legal capacity outlined in a Memorandum of Article (M and A).
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Counsel for the State, Musa Mewa, in his reply submission, said NaSSIT is a subsidiary of government with 98% shares. He said the institution was set-up by government with public monies. He said CMB bank is a scheme established by NaSSIT to provide retirement and other benefits to pensioners. He pointed that NaSSIT is a parastatal under the Ministry of Labour and Industrial Relations, and is as well been fully funded with public funds Mewa said the private transaction of land at Songo was subjected to the law of Contract. He submitted despite the fact that it is so true but, the proceedings is not a criminal trial and by establishment, the CMB bank is a property of the State. Mewa said it is evidence that certain politicians interfered into transactions of the land in the most unfair, indisciplined and dishonest manner. He said both Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay and Ahmed Kanu were neither staff at NaSSIT nor members of the Sesay family of Songo, but benefited from land transactions. State Counsel said counsel representing the former Minister and Deputy introduced a fresh line of evidence that is at variance to that of I.S. Koroma because both persons of interest denied being members of the Sesay family of Songo. Mewa said Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay received Le200 million from sales of land at Songo. Ahmed Kanu received Le570 million on 24 April and 13 May 2013, from sales of land. The State counsel said the total received from sales of land by the Sesay family of Songo was Le97 million but the amount on the face of the conveyance dated 15 July 2013, was Le6,450,000,000. He said the variation between the actual amount received and what was paid by CMB is a matter of concern for the State. Mewa said, “Even the totality of evidence before the Commission, there is overwhelming evidence that great financial loss occurred with expressed misappropriation. I therefore submit for the recovery of all lost finances.” The Commission was adjourned for continuation on another oral closing for today, Tuesday 21 January 2020.
By Mohamed Kabba
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