By Abu Bakarr Sulaiman Tarawally in Freetown
The 2018 presidential candidate for the All People’s Congress, Dr Samura Kamara was summoned last week to give evidence into the sale of government’s shares in the Sierra Rutile Mining Company Ltd., in the ongoing Commissions of Inquiry.
It is alleged that former President, Ernest Bai Koroma sold the share to his nephew –John Bornoh Sisay at a knockdown price. Sisay is reported to have then gone on to sell the company to an Australian mining group Illuka Mining for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Dr Samura Kamara said in fact the government of Sierra Leone had, at no point in time, acquired 30% shares at the Sierra Rutile Mining Company operating south of Sierra Leone. He said the company owed PAYE tax from the staff proceeds during the civil interregnum and the sum accrued up to US$ 10 million in 2009. The APC front man was speaking in a local radio interview, at Radio Democracy 98.1 FM.
The company, he said, was the only one which did not fold operations during the war and as such, he said, its finances were badly affected. Samura said at the time, government entered into a technical agreement with Sierra Rutile to invest the owed tax in the form of holding shares at the company with the invested sum.
The former foreign affairs and minister of finance said, when the economy was tight in 2012, the government requested it shares from the company but the proceed was only US $ 13.1 million after a meagre tax from the invested sum which represents only 7.09% stake.
He said, the government at the time, really intended to acquire up to the 30% shares in 2012 but could not meet the investment threshold. Then came a US$ 25 million dollars grant from the European Union to the government of Sierra Leone in the form of loan to Sierra Rutile which the government had wanted to use to compute the threshold to meet the 30% but the EU forbids the government from using the money for such purpose.
The 2018 APC presidential candidate said the governance transition team should have crosschecked their information at the time of putting together the Governance transition team report but failed to contact him so that he could give evidential support to the wholesome thorny issue.
Samura is believed to have been the Minister of Finance at the time in the Koroma led government who would have signed documents for the sale of Sierra Rutile to Sisay or had knowledge about the sale.
Samura was to appear before Nigerian born Justice Biobele Georgwill in charge of COI 64 Room 01 on Monday June 10, 2019 after the former secretary to President Koroma, Mr Emmanuel B. Osho Coker who served in the capacity from 2008 to 2018, denied knowledge of the sale of Sierra Rutile in 2012, However, Lawyer Ady Macaulay, the former Anti-Corruption Commission boss stood on his behalf.
Questioned by lead state counsel –Mrs Khadija Zainab Bangura, Mr Coker said not everything that went to State House passed through him.
Giving evidence for the state, Mr Sahr Lahai Jusu, government Financial Secretary tendered a document at the COI, which he said he obtained from the Bank of Sierra Leone regarding the sale of the shares that is of interest to the inquiry.
Sahr Lahai Jusu told the inquiry, he could not find trace of records regarding the sale of Sierra Rutile in the Ministry of Finance
“I requested the Accountant General to provide details in respect of Sierra Rutile shares and the Accountant General came back and could not provide details of the sale …from the Minister’s office, we could not trace any records regarding the sales of the 30%”, he said.
Asked to confirm, who was the minister of finance at the time of the sale of the government shares in Sierra Rutile, Mr Jusu said it was Dr Samura Kamara.
Justice Biobele ended the proceedings and ordered the former finance minister, Dr Samura Kamara to appear before him on Monday.
Dr Samura Kamara is the most senior APC former government official that has been invited to appear before the commission and many expected to follow suit in the coming days.
In another development, former transport and aviation minister, Leonard Balogun Koroma; former minister of energy –Henry Macaulay were summoned to appear before Ghanaian born, Justice William Annan Attuguba, on Thursday June 6, 2019 to give evidence in the matter regarding the awarding of contract to Barrows Construction Ltd; amounting over five million United States Dollars for the rehabilitation of the Lungi International Airport project.
As at press time this afternoon a NOTICE OF HEARING FOR ERNEST BAI KOROMA the former President has been ordered by Justice Biobele Georgewill of Commission 64. The notice seeks to inform the former president of testimonies of state witnesses that might touch on his person, and would be advised to make an appearance if he’s willing on June 13, 2019. The probe will focus on the Petroleum Directorate