The Regional Manager of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in the North-West Region, Al-Hassan Sesay has told Chiefdom Administrative Clerks (CACs) that Local Courts are not money making enterprises where monies are demanded regularly and fine levied at an extortionate proportion.
He made this statement during a sensitization meeting held on the 14th July 2020 at the Port Loko District’s Office. The meeting, as part of the Commission’s public education drive was convened as a result of several complaints and concerns from the general public on corrupt practices and levying of exorbitant fines in the Local Courts.
Addressing staff of the Port Loko District Office and CACs, the ACC Regional Manager emphasized that they are all public officers and by extension are covered by the ACC Act of 2008 and 2019 as amended. As a regulatory framework, he said, the 2011 Local Court Act created the Local Courts as a way of administering justice at the Local level wherein authorities are expected to be conversant with traditional and cultural practices that should be followed in adjudicating and dispensing justice in their various localities. He said the work of court chairmen and CACs should be seen as transparent and done in a fair manner which in turn will give hope and confidence to locals to seek justice redress in the local courts. “Justice at the Local Court should be dispensed fairly and not a burden on the community,” he emphasized.
Manager Sesay encouraged local authorities to be abreast with the dictates of the 2011 Local Court Act and work towards addressing matters within their jurisdiction as well as changing community mistrust and disenchantment prevalent among various local communities in the district. He went on to state that corruption at the local community is very enormous and warned local authorities to desist from hearing matters outside their jurisdiction and engaging on activities that amount to committing a corruption offence. He noted that all fines must be issued with the appropriate receipts and chiefdom funds appropriately accounted for. He called on local authorities to support the fight against corruption for a better Sierra Leone.
In his welcome remarks, the Assistant District Officer Port Loko, Alpha M Sowa expressed thanks to the ACC team for the engagement and described the meeting as a step in the right direction in guiding the conduct and activities of staff. He alluded to the fact that several reports have been made concerning corrupt practices and the levying of exorbitant fines by Court Chairmen, Clerks and CACs. He promised to work with the Commission in addressing corruption issues at the Local Courts.
In his explanation on the purpose of the meeting, the Senior Public Education Officer Sahid Mohamed Kamara said the meeting was convened to educate staff of the ministry on various corruption offences and numerous complaints from the public bordering on corrupt activities in the Local Court and to also solicit their support in combating graft at local level.
Public Education Officer Mohamed Thullah underscored the significance of the role of the public in combating corruption and highlighted various methods of reporting corruption to the commission. He encouraged local authorities to dispense justice fairly and reminded them that their activities are now closely watched by the ACC.