ARE PRESIDENTIAL MOTORCADES CONDUITS FOR DRUGS?

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By Ohenenana Kofinipa

The question has become relevant following the arrest of Perry Dolo, until his arrest Chief Driver of the presidential motorcade of Sierra Leone, for importing narcotic drugs

He and four others were arrested at the Sierra Leone-Liberia border on their return into Sierra Leone allegedly with 10bags of narcotics valued LD$3.7million. They had been traveling in Escort 1, the lead vehicle in all convoys.

In court, Dolo and the others – two Liberians, Cyrus Slenwion, a police officer of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and Augustine N. Saah, a Guinean, Mohammed Bah, and a Sierra Leonean, Korma Gibanilla, believed to be a member of the Armed Forces – pleaded not guilty but the jury thought otherwise.

The jury of Criminal Court ‘C’ returned a unanimous verdict after hours of closed-door deliberations. The judge will pronounce sentences in about a week’s time

Dolo, together with four others men, were charged with “drug trafficking and criminal facilitation.”

They allegedly transported the drugs from neighboring Sierra Leone though Bo Waterside, the crossing point in Grand Cape Mount County

During the closing arguments the defence team told jurors to find the defendants ‘not guilty’ saying that prosecutors did not have any evidence to convict the defendants.

Besides, the defence team argued that prosecutors failed to produce laboratory evidence, establishing that what was allegedly seized from defendants “were indeed narcotic drugs.”

Countering the argument of the defence, prosecutors told jurors it was ridiculous to suggest that the defendants did not know what was in the bags, and strenuously pleaded for a ‘guilty verdict’ against them.

Supporting their argument, prosecutors said that the drugs at the center of the allegation were found in a vehicle that is specifically assigned to Dolo.

However, Dolo, during his testimony admitted that the vehicle in which the drugs were discovered belonged to him, claiming he did not have any knowledge of how it appeared in Grand Cape Mount County.

The motorcade commander was arrested in November 2013, along with three other men, after crossing from Sierra Leone via the town of Bo Waterside into Liberia.

He allegedly took the car during his day-off to go and do his own thing. “He was not on duty, but he used the official car”, the government indicated after his arrest.

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