November 9 – The bitter in-fighting over who runs Sierra Leone football has taken a remarkable twist with FIFA intervening to overturn a decision by the country’s national FA to remove Isha Johansen (pictured left) from her role as president – right in the middle of a court case in which she is charged with corruption.
Last month, the Sierra Leone Football Association (SFLA) executive ruled that both Johansen and her general secretary Christopher Kamara should be set aside during a trial brought by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
The case is still ongoing with a verdict still to be reached but in a letter to the SLFA, seen by Insideworldfootball, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura (pictured right), a huge supporter of Johansen – Africa’s only female FA boss – said FIFA “deem that the dismissals are invalid” and called for both Johansen and Kamara to “remain in their function.”
Samoura, whose emailed letter was copied to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), says the pair’s dismissals broke SLFA statutes but the move is classic example of how FIFA’s regulations sometimes conflict with national law. According to the ACC, public officials indicted with corruption charges must be suspended until their case reaches a conclusion.
Johansen and Kamara made their first appearance in court on October 30, when both denied any wrongdoing. The ACC charges relate to alleged misappropriation of donor and public funds, conspiracy to commit corruption offences and abuse of office. The case has been adjourned for a week after Kamara’s wife tragically lost a baby girl in childbirth.
Johansen, whose tenure as president ended in August but who has applied for re-election, claims the charges against her are trumped up and politically motivated, designed to block a match-fixing inquiry involving Sierra Leone’s national team.
However, a former government official has told Sierra Leone media that amongst the multiple allegations of corruption against Johansen was a bribe in the form of thousands of bags of cement (from her Norwegian husband’s cement business) and cash to the then sports minister to help her secure her election the Sierra Leone FA presidency in 2013.
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