Alhaji Unisa Alim Sesay alias Awoko, has denied recent press reports alleging that he used his personal influence as Auctioneer at the Queen Elisabeth Quay to illegally acquire a vehicle owned by a Sierra Leone based in the United States of America, Alhaji Sheriff Alghali. Contrary to reports that he auctioned the vehicle worth thirty-five thousand dollars to himself, Awoko disclosed that the vehicle in question was in fact bought and cleared by one A.O. Sesay who paid the sum of two million leones for it.
He pointed out that the said vehicle was auctioned in line with laid down regulations, stressing that port workers, committee members and auctioneers including his very self, are not allowed to purchase any commodity auctioned at the quay.
He went on to explain that the vehicle was sold 101 days after its arrival at the quay, adding that vehicles that exceed their stay at the quay for more than 30 days without being cleared by their owners are entitled to be auctioned so as to create space for other consignments of goods arriving in the country.
Normally, he further explained, an additional period of 30 days plus three weeks is extended to give consignees the opportunity of clearing their goods, before being auctioned.
He also stated that after the expiration of the long-waiting period, the said vehicle was gazetted for auctioning by the Government of Sierra Leone, and that all he and members of the auctioning committee did was to auction it accordingly.
"Please note that it is not the practice or policy of any auctioneer to return goods that have been sold to a member of the public", Awoko maintained, adding that "In fact once goods are gazetted their owners cease to have right over them automatically". He also stated that "At this stage, such goods now become government property".
He therefore dismissed Alhaji Sheriff Alghali’s continued claim to the vehicle as unrealistic, saying "He has the option to go to court if he think he has been unfairly treated".
According to him also, he was not directly involved in the auctioning of the said vehicle. The Ministry of Finance, he claimed, did the auctioning. Asked whether the Vice President ever called him in respect of the issue, he answered in the affirmative.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Sheriff Alghali insists that the vehicle did not stay at the quay for the period Awoko is claiming, and that it was illegally auctioned. The matter is now to the attention of His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma, who is yet to come out with a word.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.