By Mohamed Taly Jalloh
Sierra Leone Football Association President Isha Johansen and Chris Kamara secretary General were acquitted and discharged on corruption offences by a Freetown High Court Sierra Leone Holden in Freetown on Monday 27th May 2019, by Justice Reginald Finn who said the prosecution had failed to prove their case and that there was no evidence before him to hold the defendants culpable.
This ruling means that Football world governing body, FIFA will likely lift the ban on the country. A statement from the Anti-Corruption Commission has confirmed that Isha Johansen, along with Sierra Leone Football Association General Secretary Christopher Kamara, can return to their posts. This will help pave the way for the lifting of a ban from global football by FIFA.
Meanwhile the Department of Prosecution of the ACC will therefore review the judgment and the decision of the court, and a decision will be taken in due course whether or not to appeal the judgment.
It could be recalled that the football governing body FIFA, suspended Sierra Leone in October last year due to the third-party interference in the running of the SLFA.
The ban came after the country's anti-corruption commission (ACC) set aside Johansen and Kamara and handed over control of the SLFA to vice-president Brima Mazola Kamara and assistant secretary general Abdul Rahman Swarray. Shortly after the suspension FIFA said it would "wait for the completion of the trial before further measures can be considered, including the lifting of the suspension, if deemed appropriate." Sierra Leone was disqualified from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign because of the ban. It means Kenya and Ghana qualified for the competition from Group F.
Johansen and Kamara were forced to vacate their posts until their case on corruption-related charges concludes. Now it has been concluded in favour of the embattled president and her secretary general. Although ACC intends to appeal the case, Football-loving fans welcome the news and hope unity will prevail among the stakeholders. Sierra Leone has been without a domestic league for four years because of the divisions within the SLFA.
The two-some were standing trial on three counts of corruption brought by the ACC. They were accused of misappropriating US$50,000 given to SLFA by CAF for covering of cost for the conduct of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Tests on 30 players of the Sierra Leone under-17 team in 2014 and dishonestly appropriated US$ 5,000 to repay a loan to the husband of Isha, Arne Johansen.