Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 January 2021:
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has today published a statement to inform the general public that the Court of Appeal in Freetown, presided by the honourable Justice Miatta Maria Samba, the honourable Justice Ansumana Ivan Sesay, and the honourable Justice Sulaiman Bah, yesterday 19th January 2021, upheld corruption conviction and jail-term sentence handed down to Edward King and Sorieba Kamara, both former officials of the Ministry of Information and Communication.
On the 27th February 2019, Edward King who was the Acting Director of Information, and Sorieba Kamara – a Senior Accountant in the Ministry of Information and Communication, were both sentenced to three years mandatory imprisonment, following their conviction at the High Court in Freetown, presided by Justice Fatmata Bintu Alhadi for corruption offences.
Their conviction came after they pleaded guilty to the counts of Misappropriation of Public Funds and Public Revenue, contrary to Section 36(1); Failure to Comply with Applicable Procedures and Guidelines Relating to the Management of Public Funds, contrary to Section 48(2)b; and failure to pay tax payable to a public body, contrary to Section 48(1)d of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, arising from the Two Hundred and Six Million Leones (Le206,000,000) that was said to have been partly misappropriated following the allocation of funds for Commissions of Inquiry sensitizations by the Ministry of Information and Communication.
In the judgment, the three Justices of the Appeals Court dismissed their grounds of appeal, and upheld the trial Judge’s conviction and sentence against both Appellants to a mandatory prison term of three years.
The ACC says that it “appreciates the judgment of the Appeals Court Justices, in upholding the custodial sentence, earlier handed down, as it serves as an effective deterrent to persons who would want to engage in acts of corruption and welcomes such bold move and posture from the Judiciary.
“The ACC also wishes to reassure the general public of its determination to curb all levels of corruption throughout Sierra Leone.”
Many in Sierra Leone will no doubt welcome the custodial sentencing of corrupt public officials, following the ACC’s standard policy of pursuing out of court settlement to recover stolen funds, without punishing criminals for wrongdoing. But many would also question whether custodial sentencing will be handed down to former and current government ministers found guilty of corruption.
Somehow most people have become storytellers. Welcome to this trade Mr Stargazer.
First and foremost lets get some things in perspective – storytelling is not a TRADE but an ‘ART’ form mainly because stories brings facts to life and they teach us about ourselves and others; stories that are related with great skill can astonish, admonish, inspire, transport us through time, solve nerve-wrecking problems, address injustices and create lasting memories for us through the use of humour. So you see, to try and reduce storytelling to a basic economic concept involving the buying and selling of goods is an absurdity in its worst forms that deserves mockery, ridicule and outrage.(lol)
By the way, I grew up in the midst of Master-storytellers, legendary men who could make a whole night disappear with their magical stories in the twinkle of an eye through their unparalleled proficiency in our widely understood local dialect. Storytelling is a trade huh?(lol) On this glorious forum you must measure your words first, on the scales of reason, precision and good judgement before spewing them out ignorantly for the whole world to hear.(lmao)
A blow struck for us by the Judiciary. But we should not start jubillating until we see the Judiciary starting to get hold of some bigger guns and silencing them for a few years. We know the bigger guns – they are hiding behind their position at the moment trying to contrive what would happen to them if they lost power in 2023. Some would try to reach Lungi Airport by any means necessary, perhaps in a dug-out canoe with worldly possessions being the clothes on their backs.
The only scenario that could offer a defeated SLPP a respite or reprieve is if NGC wins the presidency with Dr KKY at the controls. A nervous SLPP team would shake their heads in disbelief at the irony of the quandary that they who gave impetus to the redefining of the Judiciary, as well as giving sharper teeth to the ACC are themselves now in their clutches. Sierra Leone is about to take off from the doldrums and soar like an eagle.
Gentlemen – Yesterday I paid my elder sister a visit and we were discussing a broad variety of topics that included our thoughts on the politics of our beloved Sierra Leone. My nephew, her 7 year old son was also present playing a video game, interrupting us every now and then. And then my sister said to me chuckling; “I have been reading your comments on the Sierra Leone Telegraph about the SLPP but your words have been very subdued, these people deserve much worse for the needless suffering they are causing our citizens.” I laughed and replied; “Subdued huh? Alright from now on I will be tearing things down with my sledgehammer – you know I don’t give a rats ass about the criminal SLPP Cabal”. And then my itsy-bitsy seven year old nephew emphatically added with a wily smile “Neither do I, I don’t give a rats ass about any of them either”(lol).
My sister was laughing and I was rolling on the floor, and then she shook her head saying; “Please do not come to my house and start teaching my son words and things he doesn’t need to know now;(lol). I was laughing so hard there were tears in my eyes, and then the little man, still playing his video game dropped another bombshell; “They are good for nothings;” he said smugly. And with a stern look his mother asked: “And who told you such a thing?” And the boy replied pointing at me; “My uncle did.” I exploded with laughter, saying to my sister, “You see even the little innocent fellas are fully aware that the SLPP are bad for Sierra Leone. Thanks for your honesty little man.” I said.
“Leave my son out of politics,” she warned with a smile. Indeed, the little man was right, they are good for nothings, fraudsters, arresting the little squirmy fishes and letting the big ones go free. Again, they have been undermining their own credibility through their shady, biased, suspicious, impulsive attitudes. The tribe that doesn’t take a bribe is what they call themselves yet their pockets are full of government money stolen by their filthy tribalistic hands.(lol)
What goes around comes around.
Its not often we hear this sort of cases, where the judiciary has taken the lead in upholding the rule of law. These are all baby steps. In this case the appeals process has upheld convictions on Mr Edward King, and Mr Sorieba Kamara. Both according to this report were previously found guilty of misappropriating public funds. I have never heard of them. In the grand scheme of things, these middle ranking officials are just the latest low hanging fruits that are found guilty of misappropriating funds belonging to the state. The message here is quiet clear, the ACC might be turning a corner in pursuit of corrupt public officials. That is all well and good. What we don’t want to see in Sierra Leone, is the use of this independent arm of government, that is entrusted to interpret the laws of the land for selective justice. The 2019 audit report speaks in plain black and white, about corruption right at the door steps of both the president, and his vice president.
Recently a court in South Korea upheld a prison sentence of 24 years imprisonment on their former president Park Geun-hye, found guilty of abuse of power and Coercion. And it was broadcasted live on Television. I think we should start adopting the same court TV trials for corrupt politicians. Because when you think by the time of independence for Ghana, their economy was stronger than South Korea. And Sierra Leone was not far behind Ghana. So when we look at the three economies today, South Korea is way ahead. The bottom line they don’t tolerate corruption, whether its in private cooperation like Samsung, whose head was recently sent to jail or politicians. In South Korea, being a high profile individual and corrupt doesn’t mean you will escape justice.
I wish the ACC can blindly cast their net wide so the people of Sierra Leone will have more faith in them in trying to catch the real corrupt criminals that have driven our country to her knees. We as citizens see the judiciary as the last best hope in our country to uphold the rule of law and interpret the laws without any fear or favours. Last year we saw how Bio tried to muscle in to the workings of the judiciary to do his own bidding. And since the judiciary not only interpret the laws, it is also the sole guardian of our 1991 constitution. So it is fair to say the more our judiciary is independent, the more our country’s security is guaranteed.