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ACC loses case to Momoh Konte as Justice Charm serves justice

ACC loses case to Momoh Konte as Justice Charm serves justice

In the forenoon of Friday 24th of May, 2013 in the High Court of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Justice Abdulai H. Charm served justice when he acquitted and discharged Momoh Kemoh Konte, first accused on all 5 counts with which he was charged by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).  He was charged with two (2) counts of “Soliciting an Advantage, contrary to Section 35(1) of the Anti Corruption Act of 2008, two (2) counts of “Conspiracy to Commit a Corruption Offence”, contrary to Section 128 of the Anti Corruption Act of 2008, and one (1) count of “Peddling Influence”,contrary to Section 31(3) of the Anti Corruption Act No 12 of 2008.

On 24th of April, 2012 the court granted the prosecution’s application that the name of the second accused, Alex Mansaray, remains on the file, whilst the case against Momoh Konte be proceeded with.

Momoh Konte pleaded not guilty to all five counts on which he was standing trial and he arraigned a battery of lawyers led by Honourable Ajibola Manley Spaine.

The trial ran for a full year before the honourable judge retired to consider his verdict.  This was a trial by judge alone and Honourable Justice Charm rose to the occasion when he delivered a fair judgement that will go down in the annals of our legal history.

The unhurried, considered, and sound verdict has put the honourable judge in the premier league of our learned judges.  In contrast one can see that the hurried decision of the ACC to go after the accused person on the flimsiest of grounds, smacks of incompetence and witch-hunting.  It serves no purpose to throw the book at decent citizens solely on the grounds of personal vendettas.  Reputations are built over a long time but it takes only a second to drag same in the mud.  Institutions that are funded by tax-payers’ money should be on top of their game and no single individual should be allowed to wield dictatorial powers.

This whole saga started on the 23rd November, 2011 when an international news network Aljazeera English broadcast a documentary purporting to highlight corruption in the timber trade in Sierra Leone.  This documentary smeared the good name of an upright and selfless private businessman whose only crime was that he sought to help out some would be “investors” in the genuine belief that he was being of service to his country.

Momoh Kemoh Konte has always shied away from government contracts because he knows that some ill-motivated people will do anything and everything to smear his good name and bring into jeopardy his standing in the party.  It is obvious that the strenuous effort that Sorious Samura put in distorting the facts was aimed at doing precisely that.

In their closing statement the prosecution team described Momoh Konte as the “Proverbial Good Samaritan” with a tongue in cheek.  They could not understand how he could sacrifice so much for people he hardly knew.  Surely, the prosecution team does not know the man called Momoh Konte.

Momoh Konte on his own, using his vast connections in the United States of America (USA) has helped over 90 Sierra Leoneans get post-graduate degrees in various universities in the USA. Today, in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and many other Ministries, Departments and Agencies, “his” graduates are serving our beloved country in diverse capacities.  He has not sought any personal benefit from his actions in any way.  His aim is to contribute to the development aspirations of the country he loves so much – Sierra Leone.  Yes this is the proverbial good Samaritan; selfless and seeking the uplifting of others.

At the time the infamous timber documentary was aired by Aljazeera, Momoh Konte was away in the USA.  When it transpired that the ACC was keen to talk to him about the events portrayed in the documentary, he flew back home immediately without prodding from anybody.  He was hell bent on clearing his name.  He has always maintained that he had nothing to hide, and today, the honourable judge agreed with him.  When Konteh first appeared before Justice Charm he was granted bail and has travelled in and out of the country during the trial, but always making sure he is present for all his court sessions.  He claims that only the guilty are afraid.

There are so many things that really need to be said about this young man.  In his native district, Koinadugu, his development strides are there for all to see.  On his own he has built modern state of the art schools in nearly all the chiefdoms in the district.  Local administration has also benefitted from his largesse.  He has built a number of court barries and markets.  He might not be exactly Bill Gates, but he sure is spreading the little he has to go around.

The court scene after the landmark verdict of the honourable judge was festive, with a lot of back-slapping and congratulations all round. Those who were close to Momoh Konte could feel the palpable sense of relief he was feeling.  Some even claimed he was teary-eyed, but I choose to say he was staring into the future and thinking about how much more he can uplift his party, country, and his beloved people of Koinadugu District.

by Dennis Jones

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