The State Counsel at the Commission of Inquiry Robert Kowa has called on Justice Bankole Thompson during his final written submissions on the assets investigation of the former minister of Tourism and Culture, Sidi Yayah Tunis to confiscate his properties This was suggested on Thursday 16th January 2020. According to Lawyer Kowa, Mr. Tunis served as minister of Tourism and Culture for two years, from March 2016 to April 2018 and earned total emoluments of Le487 million. Kowa however stressed that at the end of Mr. Tunis ministerial tenure in 2018, he owned a house at Goderich valued at Le 9.6 billion ($1.2 million USD). The State Counsel drew the attention of the Judge to such a mismatch, adding that “It is my submission my lord the value of the property exceeds his lawful emoluments” making reference to Section 4 b(1) of the Constitutional Instrument No. 65 of 2018, which states that the minister lived a state of life not commensurate to his official earning. In that light Lawyer Kowa urged Justice Thompson to confiscate the said property of the former minister of Tourism and put it for public use. Responding to the submissions made by the State Counsel, lawyer for the Person of Interest (Sidi Yayah Tunis) Ady Macauley, discountenanced the submission put forward by the State.
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According to Lawyer Macauley, “there is no way that the property can cost $1.2 million (USD)”. He called the evidence presented by the valuator “worthless piece of evidence,” inviting His lordship to put little or no weight on it. He said the author of the ‘Valuator Report’, Olu Campbell used an exchange rate way above the normal rate at that time, which he says rendered his report invalid. Mr. Macauley furthered that from the report they got from Treasury with regards to the earning of former minister was Le 1.798 billion, as opposed to Le 487 million put forward by the State, giving a variance of Le 1.311 billion. Ady said in the declaration form of the former minister of Tourism in March 2016, he did indicate that he owned a partly finished building at Goderich valued Le 850 million. Having a second bite on the issue, lawyer Kowa said they took into effect the two years served by Mr. Tunis and the emoluments he earned in that period. Justice Thompson then closed the matter for his recommendations.
By Mohamed J. Bah
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