High Court Judge, Hon. Justice Mohamed Bawoh has on Thursday 3rd June, 2021 granted bail to the former Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA) Executive Director, Paul Sobba Massaquoi, former Human Resource Manager, Victor Alpha and others, during their first appearance before the Freetown High Court for corruption allegations.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on 31st May, 2021, pressed five count charges against the six inductees in relations to alleged failure to abide by procurement procedures as required by law.
Amongst the five count charges pressed against them by the ACC, are; conspiracy to commit corruption offence, contrary to Section 48 (2) (b) and abuse of office, contrary to Section 42 (1) and knowingly misleading the commission, contrary to Section 127 (1) (b) of the Anti-Corruption Act No. 12 of 2008, as amended by the Anti-Corruption Act No. 9 of 2019 respectively.
Having granted bail them bail following a application put forward by lawyers representing the accused, one of their lawyers, Hindolo Gevao applied for the first count charge to be struck out by the Court from the indictment, on grounds that it is a “bad in law.” “You cannot conspire to commit a conspiracy, there has to be a substantive offense. Conspiracy cannot stand alone,” he argued.
The former SLMA Executive Director was also charged with abuse of office by improperly awarding a contract to rehabilitate the SLMA Headquarter building without a bidding process being done, contrary to the procurement laws of the land, to which they denied.
Charges concern failure to conduct a bidding process as required by Section 37 and 39 of the Public Procurement Act No.1 of 2016, with regards the rehabilitation of the SLMA Headquarter building in Freetown, where it was alleged that they conspired to commit corrupt offences and willfully failed to comply with applicable and guidelines relating to the procurement of work between 1st May to 31st December, 2020.
Hon. Justice Bawoh then adjourned the matter to 17th June, 2021, for ruling on the said application and continuation of the substantive matter proper.