15 accused persons were yesterday remanded at the Male Correctional Centre in Freetown for an alleged attempt to smuggle 6,590 littres of petrol and 6, 580 littres of diesel.

fuel-smuggling-in-west-africa

The accused persons – Mohamed Dumbuya, Abu Bakarr Bangura, Ishiaka Makon Kamara, Abu Sheriff, Foday Amadu Sillah, Abu Bakarr Janneh, Alfred Williams, John Williams, Alhaji Bah, Osman T. Kamara, Alie Jalloh, Ibrahim Bah, Ibrahim Bangura, Mohamed Kandeh, and Lamin Turay – appeared at the Freetown Magistrates’ Court No.1, presided over by Magistrate Dr. Abou Bhakarr Binneh-Kamara on six counts of conspiracy, attempted smuggling, attempted evasion of tax duty and keeping petroleum products without licence, contrary to law.

According to the particulars of offence, the accused persons on diverse dates between 1st March and 17 September, 2016 at the Mange Police Checkpoint, Bureh Maconteh Chiefdom, in Port-Loko District, were found in control of a fuel bowser with registration No. AGO 728, loaded with the above quantity of petroleum products valued Le46, 344, 000 and headed for Guinea.

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The said products were meant for the National Petroleum Filling Station at Masalia village, along the Freetown-Masiaka highway.

The prosecution alleges that the accused on the above dates at Kukuna, Bamoi town, Magbema and Braimaya Chiefdoms in Kambia District were found keeping petroleum products at a location not licenced for keeping the said products.

The prosecution continues that the accused persons on the same dates attempted to evade the payment of custom duties.

Defense counsel P. M. Fofanah made an application for bail pursuant to Section 79 (2) and (3) of the Criminal Procedural Act of 1965.

He stated that the accused persons were breadwinners of their respective families and that if granted bail they would not be a flight risk or interfere with any prosecution witness.

He informed the court that the accused persons have been in police custody for a period of 15-20 days.

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He also informed the court that the accused persons have responsible sureties residing in the Western Area who are ready to stand in their recognisance. But Police Prosecutor, Assistant Superintendent Samuel Kamara, vehemently objected to bail for all the accused persons.

He said the police were still investigating other suspects, adding that the accused persons would interfere with prosecution witnesses if granted bail.

However, Magistrate Dr. Binneh-Kamara noted that he had heard both sides and that based on the fact that the accused persons have been in custody for 15-20 days, he would consider granting them bail on the next adjourned date.