Justice has finally prevailed for a Manchester City fan falsely accused of a crime in the impoverished African backwater of Sierra Leone.
Armani Sheku Kamara – known as ‘Mr Man City’ – in the country, was the victim of maliciously trumped up charges in relation to receiving stolen goods.
He made the first of almost a dozen court appearances last summer and his ordeal had dragged on for eight months, without a shred of evidence ever being offered against him.
Magistrates in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown, formally acquitted Armani this week in the complete absence of any material that could possibly have cast doubt on his innocence.
Armani is the driving force behind a 2,000-strong City fan base comprising 16 supporter’s clubs in one of the poorest nations on the planet. It’s an unlikely association when you consider City are acknowledged as one of the richest clubs in the world, courtesy of their Abu Dhabi owners.
The young West African has forged strong links with City since establishing a Sierra Leone branch of the Official Supporters Club (OSC). He has been instrumental in gaining funding and support from the OSC in recent years, resulting in the donation of a mini-bus, funds and large consignments of City training kit, match day strips and Umbro football boots – all of a size 8!
Armani took receipt of a MCFC-branded mini bus, which was personally delivered by ex-City star Paul Lake and prominent members of the OSC, as his ties with City grew ever stronger.
He arranged a deal with a local sports dealer whereby he could trade two pairs of the size 8 Umbro boots for one set of alternative boots, that fitted the players of his team.
Having sourced the needs of Sierra Leone Man City, Armani freely distributed the remaining boots and other football, equipment – free of charge – to other teams, schools, churches, mosques etc – actions that were well publicised in Sierra Leone’s media.
The judicial farce centred on Armani allegedly receiving football boots which he had previously freely given away. It doesn’t serve any purpose to dwell on the finer detail of the so-called ‘crime’ as everything is now academic and laid to rest.
Tony Griffiths, a former Manchester policeman and lifelong City fan, befriended Armani back in 2003, whilst he was helping train the Sierra Leone constabulary.
He has championed Armani’s recent plight and tried to ensure the glare of publicity stayed on the case for fear of a miscarriage of justice and a conviction.
Tony, an ex-Detective Sergeant with Greater Manchester Police was stationed in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, when a young Armani was bitten by the City bug, courtesy of Tony’s infectious enthusiasm for his beloved Blues.
A delighted Tony reported that Armani was relieved, but not surprised, that the magistrate effectively ruled there was no case to answer, because he knew he was innocent throughout.
Tony and other key players in the OSC are now looking at the possibility of helping fund a trip to bring Armani over to England late in the season, hopefully at a time when Manuel Pellegrini’s side are collecting silverware.
He said: “This is great news for Armani, his family and friends who never doubted his innocence and integrity for a moment.
“It’s been an ordeal for all concerned, and doubtless Armani will want to say a big personal ‘thank you’ to all of those who have shown unwavering support.
“All that remains is to see if we can raise enough money to help Armani over to England to see City at a time when we could be winning a trophy or two.”