August 8, 2016 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Justice Alusine Sesay, presiding at the Freetown High Court, last Friday, 5 August, sentenced one Victorino Fayiah Joseph, a Traffic Warden of the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority(SLRSA) to three years imprisonment or pay an alternative fine of Le30 million.
The sentence came after he was found guilty of corruption following a successful prosecution by the anti-graft body.
The accused had been charged with two counts of accepting bribe and soliciting an advantage, contrary to section 28(2) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008. The section stipulates that “Any public officer who solicits, accepts, or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain for himself without lawful consideration or for a consideration which he knows or has reason to believe to be inadequate, any advantage as an inducement to or reward for or otherwise on account of his duty shall be guilty of corruption.”
The ACC prosecutor said that on 31 March, 2014 their investigators were tipped off by one Thomas Jalloh, who had alleged that on 29 March, 2014 the convict solicited the sum of Le800,000 from him at the SLRSA office on Kissy Road in Freetown. The money was payment for unclamping a vehicle with registration No. AIB 635.
ACC prosecutors maintained that Thomas Jalloh was able to negotiate a down payment of Le500, 000, and that they conducted a successful sting operation at the SLRSA offices on Kissy Road, leading to the arrest of the convict, who had on him Le400, 000, money he had apparently collected from the informant to unclamp the vehicle.
In his plea of mitigation after he was found guilty, Joseph asked the court to have mercy on him and promised never to repeat the act again.
He informed the court that he is 33, married with five children, while the wife is currently pregnant.
His lawyer, S.T.G. Saquee, informed the court that his client is a first time offender and pleaded with the judge not to impose a custodian sentence.
But ACC prosecutor Emmanuel Koivaya Amara told the court that corruption was on the increase in the country and insisted that the judge should pronounce a custodian sentence on the accused as stipulated in the ACC Act, in a bid to send a strong message to the public.
The trial judge though concluded thus: “I have listened to both sides, am aware of the fact that the accused is a first time offender and I am also aware of the fact that the convict had wasted the court’s time. I acquit and discharge the accused on the first count, and found him guilty on count two, and I sentence him to three years imprisonment or pay Le30 million, and the accused should return the Le500, 000 to Thomas Jalloh.”
It is not immediately known whether the convict will pay the fine or elect to serve the jail term.