A senior Mines Ministry official in Freetown has confirmed that, the 709.48 carats diamond found in Kono last week belongs to the State.
Global Times has been reliably informed that, Mr. Emmanuel Momoh alias Pastor was mining illegally in Kono because his mining license had expired since last year. “Pastor Momoh cannot claim the diamond because he had no valid mining license at the time the diamond was found in Tankoro Chiefdom, Kono district”, a senior Mines Monitoring official told the Global Times last night.
The Paramount Chief of Tankoro Chiefdom in the Kono district, Chief Paul Saquee V reportedly told some of his subjects in Tankoro that, before leaving Koidu town last week, an Israeli diamond miner and exporter had promised him US$2m (two million United States dollars) if he was able to convince President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to influence the sale of the diamond to him instead of Mr. Jihad Basma.
Pastor Momoh had insisted that, the diamond must be sold to Mr. Jihad Basma since he was the one who first saw and kept the diamond for him safely for almost thirty six hours.
Chief Saquee, in a bid to get the government to sell the diamond to his Israeli benefactor, told President Koroma at State House that, Mr. Jihad Basma wanted to seize the diamond from Pastor Momoh. “How can Mr. Basma seize the diamond when he was the first person to inform the President about the diamond through a third party in Freetown? a senior Mines official in Freetown asked.
Meanwhile, many people are wondering why the government did not give the first option to buy the diamond to local diamond exporters before putting it out on international tender.
Some people are also asking what will Mr. Jihad Basma, benefit from the sale of the diamond since he was the one who safely kept and escorted the diamond to Freetown. “Had it not been for Mr. Jihad Basma, the diamond would have been smuggled out of the country even without the knowledge of the government of Sierra Leone”, a local diamond exporter told the Global Times.
He noted that, during the NPRC era, a 40% from the sale of any diamond confiscated by the state was given to anyone who helped to avert the smuggling of any diamond from Sierra Leone. “Since Mr. Jihad Basma was the man who delivered the diamond safely to the government, how many percent from the sale of the diamond will be given to him? A Mines Monitoring Officer in Kono asked.
Meanwhile, an independent diamond valuator has been brought to the country by the government to evaluate the diamond which is presently lying safely at the Bank of Sierra Leone vault.
It is estimated that, the diamond will fetch a little over US$20m (Twenty Million United States dollars), according to a local diamond exporter based in Freetown.