By Feima Sesay
The first prosecution witness ASP George Momoh has on Friday 21st August 2020 testified before magistrate Marks Ngegba of court no 2 against thirteen accused who were allegedly involved in the Makeni Riot that led to the death of some citizens.
Led in evidence by state prosecutor Yusuf Sesay the witness recognized the accused and recalled on 17 and 18 July 2020.
He said on the 17 July 2020, AIG Francis Alpha called them into a meeting informing them that he had got a call from the head of EDSA in Freetown that they are going to collect the Makeni standby generator and that they are going to relocate the generator to the Lungi Airport.
He said after the meeting he received information from the deputy Mayor of Makeni informing him that the youths are at the EDSA office on a rampage that the generator should not be taken.
The witness furthered that upon receipt of the information, he then gave instruction to a team of police officers who went to the scene together with him, adding that at the scene, they met some youths behaving in a disorderly manner and they were burning tyres all over the place and that when they saw the police team they started pelting stones on them.
ASP Momoh went on to state that, he then orders the arrest of one Idrissa Turay and sixth other accused including first accused Amadu Conteh and Mohammed Idrissa Koroma the eleven accused and they were taken to the Makeni police station for investigation.
The second prosecution witness, Anthony Moriba Simon Gaya in his testimony Recognized only the first accused, noting that he only came to know him on the day of the alleged incident.
He recalled on the 17th and 18th July 2020, adding that at about 20:30 hours, he received a phone call from the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Frank Alpha in respect of riot at the NP Filling Station.
He responded to the call and went to the scene near the NP Filling Station where he met hundreds of youths chanting “we nor go Gree, we go die ya”
The witness continues that himself and one Lieutenant Bangura made efforts to persuade the youths to leave the area and made report to the Police Station if they have any issues rather than gathering unlawfully, but they refused to listen to them instead they started throwing stones at the police officers.
“I then gave an instruction to fire a warning shot in the air. They moved a bit far ahead of us, and went around EDSA fence and used the back gate to gain access into their office, whiles I and my colleagues were manning the main gate and that whiles we were standing, the first accused was arrested and handed over to me, and I ordered that to be taken to the police station for questioning,” he explained.
Mr Gaya furthered that he and his men made efforts to disperse the remaining youths who were still at the EDSA Office. “We sent them out of the compound and they went to another direction, immediately after sending them away, I received intelligence that youths have vandalized the Sierra Leone People’s Party office. I then sent another team to the said office for deployment,” he added.
He said, on the 18th July 2020, whiles he was still at the EDSA Office, he received phone calls that youths are rioting in Makeni Town, and he informed the Operations Officer, who assured him that he will take control of the situation.
Lawyer Wara Serry Kamal applied for bail on behalf of all the accused persons, adding that the accused persons have not been implicated in the matter in any way.
She said the offences for which they are in court are bailable, and therefore urged Magistrate Mark Ngegba to grant them bail. However, State Counsel objected to bail through an affidavit, but lawyer Kamal responded that the said affidavit does not have a date, he urged Magistrate Ngegba to discountenance the said affidavit, and according to her, it was defective.
Her bail application was made pursuant to Section 79(2 and 3) of the Criminal Procedure Act 1965.
State Counsel on the other hand said a defective affidavit can be used at the Magistrate Court.
But lawyer Kamal maintained that an affidavit has to be filed and stamped.
Magistrate Ngegba admitted the affidavit. Lawyer Kamal further probed into the content of the affidavit. She said, the offence committed by the accused are public summary offences, and not grievous offences as the prosecuting counsel claimed, adding that the affidavit lacks particularity.
State Counsel disclosed that they have more witnesses, so they do not want these accused persons to interfere with them if put on bail.
Magistrate Ngegba having listened to the argument of both defence counsel and prosecutor, noted that to grant bail will cause a delay as he said all the accursed are residing in Makeni.
He, therefore, refused bail and adjourned the matter to the 27 August 2020.
The accused persons Amadu Koroma, Idrissa Koroma, Joseph Yusuf Bangura, Ibrahim Sesay, Baimba Bangura, Mohammed Conteh, Saidu Kpanabom Kargbo , Joseph Kanu, Mohammed Kargbo and four others were arraigned on seven counts ranging from conspiracy to commit a felony, carrying offensive weapon without lawful authority or reason, disorderly behaviour, riotous conduct, throwing missiles and malicious damage.
According to the charge sheet the accused on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 July 2020 within Makeni conspired together with other persons unknown to commit a felony to wit carry offensive weapon.
The charge sheet further that the accused on the same date and place within Makeni city were found behaving in a riotous manner and were found throwing missile to the injury, danger or annoyance of any other person or properties.
Also the charge sheet continue that the accused on the same date and place maliciously damage Electricity Generator Transmission Company (EGTC) worth ten million Leone property of EGTC.