The head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Joseph Kamara has told Politico that “significant evidence” has been gathered in the matter brought about in the wake of an Aljazeera television documentary on corruption in the country’s timber industry, dubbed locally as “Timbergate”.
In the film, a sting operation by a group of investigative journalists, Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana appears to be aiding and abetting corruption when he apparently suggests that the ban on the exploitation and export of timber would be put off to allow for a phoney business to be set up for the sole purpose of felling trees and exporting the stock.
A group of men believed to be close to the vice president appear in the documentary to be receiving money and bragging that they can make things happen and the company be registered.
The ACC boss said that “a lot has been done” and a “significant” ground covered in the matter, which he said would soon be followed by collating the evidence before the next step was taken. He said they were “towards peripheral of closure” of the matter but would not elaborate. Asked when charges would be pressed, or not, Kamara declined to comment. But when asked whether the matter would be done with against November’s presidential election, he responded confidently saying “definitely, absolutely before the elections”.
Even though it is entirely the prerogative of its presidential candidate, at a press conference convened by its secretary general Victor Foh, the All People’s Congress party recently backed the vice president to be retained as President Ernest Bai Koroma’s running mate in the November polls, months after it had looked obvious that the Aljazeera documentary had drilled a screw in the coffin of the second most senior political figure in the country.
However a recent press release by the Qatar-based TV channel seems to have reawakened the case. The statement said that Aljazeera stood by their story and that they would be screening it again later this year. The channel also stated that they had given an enormous amount of evidence to the ACC on the matter.