By Lansana Fofanah.
The fate of eleven suspended workers of the Central Bank of Sierra Leone has been dangling in the wilderness since September 2017.
In early August 2017, there was a rumor that some workers of the Central Bank were trading in foreign currencies illegally in the Bank premises. Prior to any internal investigation which is mandatory, the Bank Governor, Dr. Patrick Conteh forwarded the matter to the CID for investigations.
On the 8th of August 2017, 11 workers ranging from senior managers, clerks, drivers down to security were bundled and taken to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters on Pademba Road in Freetown where they spent seventeen days in detention. They finally had their day in court on the 21st August 2017 before Magistrate Albert J. Moody of Magistrate Court No. 1 charged with conspiracy to defraud the State.
The statement of offense was that, they were allegedly dealing in foreign exchange within the Bank premises.
As expected, they were remanded at the Pademba Road Prison only to be granted bail on the 6th of September 2017.
During the trial, almost all the accused persons were surprised to see the only witness presented by the State, Ibrahim Bah claiming that he had been transacting with them as they had never met with him for such purpose or any other purpose for that matter.
After a thorough investigation the matter was discharged by the court on the 13th September 2017 based on lack of sufficient evidence.
A letter of discharge signed by the Magistrate was also sent to the Central Bank informing the authorities about the decision of the court
Immediately after the court discharged the matter, the Anti Corruption Commission dragged the suspects again for another investigation. They were only released by the ACC after each of them produced one surety and a title deed worth Le, 200M.
Since September 2017, the ACC has never updated them about their matter and the Commission is yet to publish their findings.
According to investigations, the Bank since September 2017 to date, has been fully paying these suspended workers all their entitlements including rent allowance, monthly salaries but they have still not been reinstated even after the court had discharged them.
In an interview with the Global Times, the Public Relations Officer of the Central Bank, Beresford Taylor, confirmed that the suspended staff are still considered as part of the Bank but didn’t say why they have not been reinstated when the Bank fully acknowledges the decision of the court.
The investigation department of the ACC declined to comment on the status of the matter and directed this writer to go through the Office of the Commissioner who can mandate them to talk to anyone on the said matter.