Drama occurred yesterday in a packed Monrovia City courtroom when a swift intervention by the County Attorney of Montserrado County, Cllr. Daku Mulbah, prevented Henry Sambullah, Comptroller at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME), from spending a night behind bars at the Monrovia Central Prison.
Mr. Sambullah and Minister Patrick Sendolo were both ordered by the court to appear before it yesterday to answer to a charge of “Theft of Service” from a complaint filed against them by Madam Jamima K. Wolokollie, Manager of Pan African Travel Agency.
In her complaint, Madam Wolokollie alleged that in March 2013, Minister Sendolo obtained her agency’s services to provide him and others airline tickets to the tune of US$7,268 – to allow them to attend a conference in Guinea – which the Ministry has not paid up to present.
But when Sambullah arrived in court yesterday, he did not come along with Minister Sendolo as was requested by the court’s document, a copy of which is with the Daily Observer.
Upon entering the courtroom, Sambullah was immediately placed on a bench with other accused individuals, some of whom were identified as “hardcore criminals.”
Dressed in a blue long sleeved shirt, Mr. Sambullah sat on the bench for over two hours as officers awaited a directive from Magistrate Kennedy Peabody to take Sambullah to jail, though the crime qualifies for bail.
The most surprising event unfolded when Sambullah noticed that there was no lawyer in the courtroom to plead on his behalf as he sat on the prisoners’ bench.
“Does the Ministry have an in-house legal team like other government agencies? I don’t think so,” a judicial expert was heard rhetorically asking after Sambullah was left alone in the courtroom.
Being a senior official of the Ministry, maybe Sambullah did not expect to be treated in the manner he was. He, however, chose to fight his own battle by making calls from the bench.
One of those calls attracted the attention of Cllr. Daku, who intervened for Sambullah to be allowed to leave the bench to complete the call.
Routinely, if a person remains on the bench without a lawyer to file his bond for an offence that qualifies for bail, that individual is sent to jail until he/she can make bail.
Later, Cllr. Mulbah, Sambullah and Madam Wolokollie were seen leaving the courtroom for what appeared to be a closed door discussion with Magistrate Peabody.
Following the closed door discussion, the Daily Observer reliably learnt that Cllr. Mulbah promised to repay the US$7,268 by Friday.
“Cllr. Mulbah pleaded with Madam Wolokollie to wait until Friday to repay the money and he vowed that he was not prepared to commit government to any legal expenses of such nature,” a source quoted Cllr. Mulbah to have said at the closed door discussion.