Sabaya mulls appealing 30-year jail term

Saturday October 16 2021
SABAYA PIC

Former Hai District Commissioner Lengai ole Sabaya discusses a matter with his lawyer, Moses Mahuna, on being sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted of armed robbery by an Arusha court yesterday. Photo | Mussa Juma

By Mussa Juma

Arusha. Former Hai District Commissioner Lengai Ole Sabaya and his three co-accused persons were yesterday sentenced to 30 years imprisonment after a court convicted them of armed robbery.

Mr Sabaya and his co-accused were arraigned in an Arusha Court in June this year and charged with armed robbery, money laundering, economic sabotage, leading a criminal gang and corruption.

The Arusha Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday convicted the accused of armed robbery which they were said to have committed between January 20 and February 9 this year.

Senior Resident Magistrate Odira Amworo said the court was satisfied that the prosecution had proved the armed robbery charges against them beyond reasonable doubt.

The prosecution asked the court to sentence them to a minimum of 30 years in prison.

Mr Sabaya’s lawyer, Moses Mahuna, said they will appeal against the conviction and sentence which, he said, had “many weaknesses. We are not satisfied,” he told reporters immediately after the verdict.

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Mr Sabaya calmed his relatives and friends in the courtroom that they should not worry.

“Don’t worry, God is working,” he said.

The courtroom turned into sad mood after the relatives and friends of the acccused cried following the sentencing.

During the prosecution, it was reported that Mr Sabaya received Sh90 million from businessman Francis Mroso, a resident of Morombo in Arusha who was accused of tax evasion.

Sabaya and his bodyguard, Sylivester Nyengu, 26 - a.k.a. ‘Kicheche’ - and Daniel Mbura, 38, were also said to have committed armed robbery on February 9, after handcuffing and beating Bakari Msangi who is a CCM Sombetini Ward Councilor and robbing Sh390,000 from him.

During the court proceedings, Mr Sabaya said his actions were part of operations he conducted as directed by his official superiors.

He said his top leaders were aware of these operations - and the Arusha operation was not the first one.

On May 13, Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan suspended Sabaya as the Hai District Commissioner pending investigations into the allegations against him.

However, the President did not give reasons for the suspension of the youthful District Commissioner who is a former chairman of UVCCM in Arusha.

Sabaya was appointed Hai DC by President Magufuli on July 28, 2018. Debate about his suspension was one of the hottest topics on social media on which some people posted incidents that they linked with the official.

Some of these incidents included arbitrary detention of people as the district commissioner exercised his powers to hold suspects without trial for a maximum of 48 hours.