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Appeal Court rules against Haja Afsatu Kabba

Appeal Court rules against Haja Afsatu Kabba

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) should not refund the sum of Le300 million to the former Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Haja Afsatu Kabba as restitution.  The Appellate Court on Wednesday 30th April 2014 made this ruling when Mrs. Kabba sought an order directing the ACC to refund the said amount of money.

Delivering the ruling, Justice E. E. Roberts said the Court has to be ‘careful not to order a refund to the appellant, Mrs. Kabba, unless it is certain that there was no dispute as to the ownership of  the said sum and that indeed it was not public funds…’.  According to Justice Roberts the court did not resolve whether the Le 300 million was or was not public funds or whether it belonged to the appellant. He noted that as the matter is now at the Supreme Court on appeal, the court will have to decide whether the money should be refunded to her.

It can be recalled that the seeming disputed Le 300 million in question is an amount the High Court had ordered Afsatu Kabba to refund to the consolidated fund when she was convicted by that court on charges of misappropriation in October 2010. When her appeal against the conviction was upheld on technicality in November 2013 and the conviction overturned, the Court ordered that the fines imposed and paid be refunded. However, no order had been made in respect to the money which was alleged to have been misappropriated and which had been repaid to the consolidated fund by Mrs. Kabba.

On 3rd December 2013, her solicitor, JB Jenkins Johnston, wrote to the ACC demanding a refund of the said 300 million Leones. The Commission replied that the order for refund related only to fines, and did not cover restitution. The Commission opposed this application submitting that the Court of Appeal had completed the matter and could re-open it whilst an appeal is in the Supreme Court. Again the court had not found that the facts of the alleged misappropriation were untrue.

The Court of Appeal has refused the application for the refund of Le 300 million to Afsatu Kabba.  The matter will be resolved when the ACC’s appeal to the Supreme Court is heard and ruled upon.

The judgment was delivered by Justice EE Roberts on a panel constituting Justice PO Hamilton and Justice A Showers.

By Alimamy Lahai Kamara

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