STATE HOUSE DENIAL OF
PROTECTING FORMER TRANSPORT MINISTER KEMOH SESAY OPENS MORE CANS....WHY SO MANY
State House on Monday this week denied the
Wikileaks cable reports in which the US embassy in Freetown hinted and actually
threw doubts on the integrity of President Ernest Bai Koroma over his
government's handling of Sierra Leone Police (SLP) investigations into the
landing of a Cessna aircraft loaded with some 700 kilograms of cocaine.
The BBC's Umaru Fofanah in a report for Focus
on Africa on Monday this week quoted the Director of Communications in the
President's Office veteran and professional journalist Unisa Sesay as saying, in
a nutshell, that what was contained in the cable report from the US embassy in
Freetown was not only "somebody's personal opinion", but that his boss the
President could not have ordered the police to shield his former Transport and
Communications minister Kemoh Sesay.
The man himself, who is at the centre of this
latest controversy is reported to have again declared his innocence - a day or
so after he was appointed a Special Adviser to President Koroma.
The denial from State House has prompted even
more questions from watchers of the scene since that dramatic Sunday July 13,
2008 incident at the country's main international airport at Lungi in the north
of the country.
As police investigation intensified with the
media and general public pressing for answers at every turn, the authorities
would now and again brief the press on the state of the case, those that had
been caught in the police dragnet and what would be the fate of the abandoned
Cessna aircraft and its cocaine cargo.
The government's attempt to distance itself
from that Sunday night event took a battering when it emerged that the Cessna
made the night landing on the same evening that President Koroma and his
delegation landed after a visit to the Gambia. Conspiracy theories of every
description were freely offered with fingers pointed at State House itself.
International interest in the matter saw
officers from Britain's Serious Crime Office as well as other law-enforcement
agencies from other countries visiting what was then a crime scene at Lungi
airport, the examination of the plane as well as the secure custody of the
Indeed care had to be taken to ensure that some
of the seized cocaine did not find its way into the ready markets of Sierra
Leone and neighbouring countries.
There have been a number of incidents where
such contraband items seized from the airport would lose considerable weight in
the journey from the airport to the offices of the Criminal Investigation
Department, CID of the Sierra Leone Police. When a question about this was
raised by a journalist in one such event, the terse and probably well-rehearsed
answer given for the differences in weight was
"The scales used to weigh these things at
Lungi are very faulty. The weight we give you here at the CID are the true
weight of the items because we have efficient and reliable scales"
Among those eventually charged to court was the
brother of the Transport and Communication minister, one Ahmed Sesay as well as
a dozen or so others including a couple of foreigners from the sub-region as
well as South America. The involvement of his brother who had been appointed
Team Manager of the national team Leone Stars increased calls for the arrest and
prosecution of Kemoh Sesay who had by now been relieved of his ministerial
duties (sacked) so that, according to State House, investigations would be
It is worth noting that at the time of this
investigation, the top gun in the Sierra Leone Police in charge of crimes was
one Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) Francis Munu who is reported to have told
the AWOKO newspaper that
suspended Minister of Transport and Aviation Kemoh Sesay was not among
the eighteen (18) suspects who were yesterday taken to court, because he
was never found culpable after police investigation into the cocaine
saga. He was quoted to have said that the administrative stance of
President Ernest Koroma in asking Kemoh Sesay to step aside while
investigation into the controversial cocaine saga was in progress,
should not be misconstrued as criminal liability on the suspended
Minister, as he did it in the best interest of justice and
transparency. The AIG added that, had he stayed in office while
investigations were on-going, the public would be suspicious; as some
officials of the Transport Ministry were under investigation. The
decision of the President to relieve Kemoh Sesay off his duties was to
avoid any incidence of political interference into the matter.
AIG Francis Munu is now the Inspector-General of the Police, pitch-forked into a
position where more experienced and senior officers were bypassed.
Was his promotion a reward for the protection of
Kemoh Sesay as ordered by President Koroma himself?
The worms keep crawling all over the place.
Take the observation of the judge who presided
over the matter.
Justice Nicholas Browne-Marke in his 100-page
report on the case is said to have expressed his unhappiness, if not anger and
frustration over the failure of the police to charge Kemoh Sesay to court noting
that drug traffickers had "compromised key state agencies as well as senior
government officials". This from a situation report by another veteran
journalist and researcher Lans Gberie
"Browne-Marke also implied that the government had been guilty of
obstruction of justice for preventing the trial of the former
Minister for Transport and Aviation: 'I must express my strong
disapproval,' he wrote, 'of the prosecution's failure to charge
Sesay since, apart from withholding vital evidence, this meant that
the judge had to acquit two accused who would otherwise have been
convicted.' 'In my view,'
Browne-Marke wrote, 'the [state] prosecution was holding back
vital evidence and was prepared to jeopardise their case in order to
save perhaps one person from perdition.'
This was, he continued, 'a blatant act of subornation of perjury'
by the state. Sesay's brother was charged and convicted in the case.
During the trial, he told the court that it was his minister brother
who gave permission for the landing of the cocaine plane: the plane
had arrived at the airport without notice and was held up by a young
air traffic controller whom the traffickers and their accomplices
had not brought into the plan".
In his ruling at the High Court Justice Browne-Marke instructed that the
impounded Cessna aircraft, which landed with the cocaine consignment, be
released into the custody of the Director of Civil Aviation, for protection. He
ordered the sale of the aircraft to the highest bidder on the fifth of May.
The Cessna aircraft was bought by the
then Mines and Mineral Resources minister for over a hundred thousand US
It is worth noting too that among
those wanted by the police at the time of the cocaine plane investigations was a
well-known and well-connected criminal, one GK
who mysteriously slipped the police dragnet only to surface in neighbouring
He was among those eventually caught,
not by the Sierra Leone Police, but Liberian and US law enforcement operatives
in a sting operation in Liberia.