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COURT OF APPEAL RULES AGAINST SLFA

BY ALIMAMY LAHAI

The Court of Appeal has upheld the sentence and conviction of Alimu Bah, former secretary- general of the Sierra Leone Football Association, SLFA. The Court reached this decision on Wednesday 6th May 2014 following an appeal made by the appellant, Alimu Bah, challenging his conviction and sentence on June 2010.

It can be recalled that Alimu Bah appeared before Justice Mary Sey J. on August 2009 on one-count charge of misappropriation of funds. He was accused of dishonestly appropriating the sum of Five Thousand Two Hundred United States Dollar (USD 5,200) which was part of the sum of Six Thousand United States Dollar (USD 6000) that was donated to the Sierra Leone Football Association SLFA by the Confederation of African Football CAF. The Learned Trial Judge convicted Mr. Bah and imposed a fine of twenty million Leones (Le 20,000,000) or 1 year imprisonment.

In December 2011, Mr. Bah challenged his conviction on eight grounds, claiming that the Learned Trial Judge ‘had erred in law by convicting the appellant of the offence of misappropriation of funds donated to the SLFA by CAF’.  In that trial at the lower court, his counsel, N. Tejan Cole, argued that the prosecution should prove that the funds misappropriated belonged to a public body and that the donation must be in the name of or for the benefit of the people of Sierra Leone. Counsel for the prosecution argued that there was legal obligation on the accused and SLFA to utilize the funds from CAF for their intended purposes. The appellant, Mr. Bah, had told the Court that his duties as General-Secretary were to supervise, receive and write correspondence on behalf of the football association and to act as secretary for the standing committee meetings. He said he sits as ex-officio at committee meetings to discharge directives of the committee, and supervises activities of the finance officer although at times direct instructions come from the president.

Delivering his judgment at the Court of Appeal, Justice Brown Mark said the appellant, Alimu Bah, was a member of the management of SLFA. According to him, ‘SLFA was and is a public body and renders service to the people of Sierra Leone … and also receives funds from donors such as CAF for its purposes.’

The Court of Appeal ruled that “having exhaustively reviewed the evidence at trial … we have come to the conclusion that the verdict of guilty … was the right one. The Appeal is therefore dismissed for lack of merit”

The judgment was delivered by Justice Brown Mark on a panel constituting Justice EE Roberts and Justice V Solomon. RS Fynn Jnr. represented the State while ND Tejan-Cole the Appellant.

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