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Monday, June 14, 2021

Court of Appeal Splits On Judgment In Diana Konomanyi’s Appeal

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Judiciary of Sierra Leone Communications, Law Courts Building, Freetown, 31st May 2021: The Court of Appeal presided over by Hon. Justice Fatmatta Bintu Alhadi (JA) has in a dissenting judgement today set aside the findings and recommendations of the Commissions of Inquiry against the former Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning Finda Diana Konomanyi.

Delivering the judgment on behalf of his agreeing Judge; Justice Mrs. Tonia Barnett (JA), Hon. Justices Komba Kamanda (JA) ruled that after a thorough examination of the totality of the evidence before the court, the recommendation of Justice Biobele Georgewill in respect of confiscating the Appellant’s premises at 1 Albert Lavaly Street Adonkia Goderich, in Freetown must be set aside including the Commission’s adverse findings.

In her dissenting judgment, Presiding Judge Hon. Justice Fatmatta Bintu Alhadi stated that she could not agree with the Appellant when she (Appellant) argued that the Sole Commissioner exceeded his jurisdiction in its entirety. The Hon. Judge therefore dismissed Ground one of the appeal.

In respect of Grounds 6 and 7 of the Appellant’s case, Hon. Justice Alhadi stated that the Sole Commissioner’s ruling of the 14th February 2019 was correct and didn’t misapply the law.
“I agree with the Counsel for the Respondent. Grounds 6 and 7 must therefore fail and are hereby dismissed. In light of the conclusions reached, this appeal is dismissed on Grounds 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Ground 2 is upheld,” Hon. Justice Alhadi stated.

Disagreeing with the Commission’s recommendation in pronouncing the Appellant guilty and sentenced to prison for a term of 6 months or pay a fine of Le30,000,000, she ordered the ACC to prosecute the Appellant for violating Section 119 of the ACC Act of 2008 (as amended) in that the Appellant deliberately refused to declare her assets for the period under review.

The Presiding Judge in her consequential Orders, ordered that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) conducts a forensic valuation, audit and investigation of the said property at Adonkia and her sole proprietorship business and her companies in order to establish and discover her financial transactions, profit and loss accounts and cash flow under the ACC Act of 2008 (as amended) and the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2012 (as amended).

This follows a nine (9) Grounds of Appeal filed by the Appellant, Finda Diana Konomanyi, on the 14th of October, 2020 challenging the findings and recommendations of the judge-led Commissions of Inquiry (COI).

Counsel for the Appellant argued that the Sole Commissioner misdirected himself and erred in law by acting as a Court of Law and convicting the Appellant for the offence of failure to declare assets.
Lawyer Ibrahim Sorie further claimed that the Sole Commissioner did not only fail to adequately consider all the evidence adduced before the court, but he also failed in making a distinction between a sole proprietorship and a limited liability company.

He went on to argue that the Commission didn’t accord his client the fair opportunity to be heard, adding that the findings and recommendations of the Commissions were against the weight of the evidence presented at the proceedings.

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